"When I get a
day off I go by myself to climb or pack. I see too many people in this job, so
I want to be alone. Usually I go to a national forest rather than a park. There
aren't so many people and not so many rules. I know there have to be
regulations, to keep people from wrecking what's left of the Park, but it seems
that all the rules get between the people and the Park. I don't know what the
answer is and that depresses me, too."
recreational philosophies, cultures in a sense, meet head on in the mountain
playgrounds of northern Colorado. On the one hand there is the
horse-rodeo-hunting-and-shooting crowd, and on the other the climbing-white
watering-backpacking-ecology set. A good place to observe the differences
between the two is in outfitting stores. Steamboat Springs has a lot of them
catering to both sets of customers. "Western" stores sell hard-type
goods, lots of leather boots, belts, tack, things made out of stainless steel
and gunmetal. In contrast, "recreational suppliers" push softer and
lighter items made from aluminum, nylon, and especially feathers. (Only in hats
do Westerns go soft and Recreationists hard.) For working purposes,
representatives of the first culture can be called Leather people and those of
the second, Feather people.
are birthright Westerners, or at least pretend they are. The region has great
mystique for them and they are proud provincials. Feather people come from all
over and like to brag about being cosmopolitans, catching the Green River
rapids in July and the Great Barrier Reef surf in January.
tote steaks and beer to the back country on pack horses, trail bikes or in
pickups. Feather folk walk, paddle or rappel in by rope with freeze-dried
vegetables and surprising white wines. Leathers listen to Marty Robbins and
watch John Wayne while Feathers go for Bob Dylan and Peter Fonda.
In Leather stores
there are usually posters advertising turkey shoots, rodeos and ox roasts.
Feather merchants advertise raft trips, rugby games and edible-weed walks.
"Is there a
jackpot rodeo going on around here anyplace this weekend?"
man. I don't pay much attention to what the rednecks do."
"Who do you
see about a raft trip?"
say, pardner, but anybody you smell smoking dope could probably tell you. You
all hurry back."