A storm has come and settled in, blowing snow and strong winds. Reminding us if we had any doubt that summer is over. The last of the remaining leaves, brown and tired in the tucked away pockets of Aspen hidden along the hillsides, are stripped clear. Vehicles can be seen driving down river. Fewer and fewer drive up.
Despite the weather, not conditions one would choose to saddle up in, we hit the trail; ride up into the Utes to help a friend. It is times likes this I am grateful for friends and neighbors, not because they have given me the excuse to be out riding in the snow. Believe me, it’s cold and wet, and when the third pair of insulated gloves get frozen and soaked, we question our reasoning. Physical duress is not something I grew up with. Suburbia was all about comfort. Being cold and tired and sore and often injured for a living and a lifestyle was not something I considered. These were things to be avoided. I have learned to accept them. And often times, appreciate them. It is this physical discomfort which allows us to be here, to find the beauty so elusive to the mountain because it’s just a little further, just a little harder to get to, just out there in some nasty weather…
No, the reasoning, the importance, is much more. It’s that acceptance that you’re there to help out in a pinch. It’s that underlying knowledge that if it were your leg broken, you might be able to ask for help in turn… Hopefully that won’t happen. But you can be sure, it will be something someday. It always is.
In any case, it’s a sense of community, one that is precious to me, and essential to living and working in the mountains. Not just folks here to get away, but here to be a part. People who come here, stay here, commit to the land, to making it work and making a living. In these harsh conditions, that means helping each other out when need be. Riding up to help at camp in a moments notice. Lending a hand; lending a horse. Clearing a trail you know others have stumbled on. Little things, usually. These things don’t need thank yous or repayment or compensation. It’s part of the deal of community. Someday, perhaps, it will be you asking the favor, someday me. We both can help. We both can ask. And in the meanwhile, we don’t need to see each other for months if our lives get too busy or keep us tucked away for the winter. We don’t need to mention it, to fuss over it, to make it anything more than what it is. A simple sense of community.