All in a day: the Butte Beauties of Crested Butte, Colorado summit Teocalli Mountain.
Each summer, I leave the comfort zone of sea level and ascend to roughly 9,000 feet for a few days. Sometimes to write. Sometimes to teach. But always to walk and ride on dirt. Crested Butte, Colorado is my favorite Rocky Mountain town just north of Gunnison, Colorado and thirteen miles south of Aspen‚ “as the crow flies.” In reality, it would take three hours to drive around the mountains to get to Aspen from here, or seven hours to hike across West Maroon Pass. To locals, this kind of endeavor is a familiar ritual, culminating in The Grand Traverse race for those hearty souls crazy enough to ski the same route. I have yet to do any of these feats, but marvel at the vigor of women at least twice my age who hike that stretch like it’s a Zumba class.
Meet the Butte Beauties, Phila Weatherly’s brainchild group that formed in 1986. Today, the group boasts more than 100 women, all over the age of 50, who ski together in the winter and bike, hike and camp in the summer. My best friend’s mother, Maureen Hall, has been a member for the last 17 years, and at the age of 67, completes seven hour hikes in a day, then returns to make dinner for her husband and houseguest (me) before she finishes a gazillion volunteer duties on the computer and confirms more guests at her son’s upcoming wedding. In other words, a hike this long is a normal day in the life of the average Butte Beauty.
No excuses to stop moving. A 75-year-old Butte Beauty navigates a boulder field toward the summit of Teocalli Mountain, after a knee replacement and shoulder surgery.
“The only rules are that we have no rules,” Maureen write in an email. “No by-laws, etc. Everyone in the group has had a past life that involved lots of work, raising kids, doing charity work, etc. and now it’s just time to play.”
I’m particularly awed upon arrival when Maureen returns f... Read More >