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The magic mountain

Paul E. Anna

So here’s a theory.Let’s make the assumption that all of us who live in this valley know how lucky we are. How our lives, minus the obvious distractions and unavoidable complications that afflict everyone, are largely cake. How we are in a space and a place in time where our lot in life is somewhat better than, oh, say 98 percent of all people who have walked this earth since the beginning of mankind.If you skied these last few weeks, you probably are quick to agree with that assumption. If you don’t agree, then perhaps you should stop reading now and start by reassessing what’s bothering you.OK, so for those of you who agree with this positively Pollyanna-ish assumption, the big question has to be: Why? Why are we so lucky? What did we do to deserve this? What great karmic joke is at play here, and are we in the middle of it or are we ultimately destined to be the punch line?Some will turn to religion for an explanation. Some will suggest that “God is Great” and that he/she or Jehovah or Brigham Young or Buddha or Allah or … someone or something created this perfect little valley and placed us here for a reason. Maybe. Maybe not. So here is another theory.Sopris.That’s right Mount Sopris. Maybe the mountain that reigns supreme as the sentinel of our valley is also the force that creates the balance in our lives. Perhaps as it hangs high over the rivers and streams and animals and houses and highways, it projects, through the strength of its stone, an offer of peace, protection and prosperity to all who live in its shadow.Sound absurd? Maybe. But driving ’round the base earlier this week from Highway 82 to Highway 133, the soft shoulder and rounded peaks of the mountaintop made it look to be an absolute deity. The wind gusts atop the mountain gave it a halo that conveyed wisdom, domination and control. It looked alive.Here are the facts. At 12,953 feet Mount Sopris is the signature mountain in the Roaring Fork Valley. Not even a thirteener, Sopris offers trekkers a moderately easy climb to not just one but two nurturing summits. It was named for an adventurer, Richard Sopris, who came to Colorado in search of gold in 1859. While he found no gold, the future mayor of Denver did leave his mark on the world when his traveling party named the twin-peaked mountain after their erstwhile leader.But none of that has to do with the mystical and magical nature of the mountain. No doubt the Ute Indians recognized the power of the hill and looked to its summit for inspiration long before we Anglos ever considered giving it a name.As I said, it’s just a theory. But it’s as good any other.


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