Blumenthal: Hut trips and more council dysfunction |

Blumenthal: Hut trips and more council dysfunction

Mel Blumenthal

It was great to take a break from all the angst and dysfunction in the village. What with Aspen Skiing Co. pulling its plans to jumpstart the completion of Base Village and Related Colorado continuing to make big promises and deliver very little, several of us — traveling under our moniker and motto “The Muttering Mad Hutters: Our bark is way worse than our bite” — decided it was time to head for the backcountry and a few days of hutting and male bonding in the wilderness.

Since much of what I’ve been writing recently is considered a bit controversial, I think it best that I keep the names of my hutting mates under wraps in order to protect the innocent. But since my heart and mind are never far from our village, you can be assured that to the consternation of my mates I periodically plied them with nightmare tales of what was likely going on back home. It was a bit of torture for me to be isolated in the wilderness for two nights and three days without any lines of communication, wondering what might be going on back home — more on that following the highlights of this winter’s hutting adventure.

We set out with a new member of our group who had never traveled with us before on our winter backcountry adventures. The three of us, clearly not of Chris Davenport caliber but not bad for folks of our vintage, were a bit concerned how our novice mate would adapt to the rigors of snowshoe trekking (luckily mostly on hard-pack), no pure running water, limited solar power, outdoor toilet facilities, questionable dehydrated packaged food and lots of household chores some of us seldom perform.

After our traditional lunch at Mango’s Mountain Grill in Red Cliff, we headed up to Tennessee Pass (10 miles north of Leadville) and once again set up camp at the Point Breeze Cabin across the road from Ski Cooper and the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center.

Since my heart and mind are never far from our Village, you can be assured that to the consternation of my mates I periodically plied them with nightmare tales of what was likely going on back home.

Fortunately all three days were blue-sky, relatively snow/wind/rain-free days, allowing us to hike the surrounding terrain with relative ease. A couple of members of our group are more qualified than the rest of us in the technical aspects of identifying the local flora and fauna and navigational details, and thus our travels always include an educational component. Luckily no final exam has been instituted yet.

This year we spent a bit more time exploring the wilderness territory surrounding the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center, and in addition to the breathtaking terrain and mountain vistas, we discovered a fabulous cookhouse and series of relatively new, cozy sleep yurts furnished with handcrafted log beds, down comforters and soapstone woodstoves. This is all a bit more upscale than our normal accommodations, but likely we’ll reserve a yurt this summer for another of our annual treks and try to adjust to a more lavish lifestyle.

Our new mate as well as the rest of us made it to the finish line unscathed and feeling fortunate to have shared this fabulous bonding experience with one another in such glorious surroundings. Put it, or one like it, on your bucket list.

Upon returning to civilization, nothing much had changed, including the continued search for the missing Malaysian airliner, President Putin’s continued incursion into Ukraine and the ongoing travails of our dysfunctional Town Council.

The elected officials have decided to put items on their April 7 meeting agenda concerning whether the town should terminate its interim consulting agreement with Gary Suiter and continue its search for a qualified, permanent, full-time town manager. There will be an opportunity for the public to weigh in on this matter pro or con.

As I and others have been saying for some time, it’s very important that the town manager have the full support of the entire council; otherwise the work of the town’s chief operating officer will continue to be significantly hampered in dealing with the many critical issues facing our community. Unfortunately, it’s become clear that Suiter has become a lightening rod of discontent among our elected representatives, and there appears no way to repair this discontent except by moving forward to find a town manager who would be acceptable to all members of the council. Although this task is made a bit more difficult now that various council members have publicly expressed their anger and emotions at one another concerning the hiring of Suiter, I think if they all just start acting like responsible adults and consider as a priority the health and welfare of this community rather than their own personal agendas, we can get the job done in relatively short order and acquire a top-flight, experienced man or woman to manage the village.

As recently decided by the Town Council, there won’t be any retail pot stores in Snowmass Village anytime soon, but as many have said, it’s not necessary because there is a readily available supply nearby, and as proof, just take a look at one of our Town Council meetings — they must be smoking something.

Since I stopped smoking in all its forms many decades ago, my only drug of choice is caffeine. I look forward to sharing my thoughts over a cup at Fuel, Starbucks or Base Camp or at

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