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Illegals on Skate Skis with Dogs

by Ladd Stevens

“Get up!”


“We’re going skiing.”

“Why? Where?”

“Mineral Belt. We leave in fifteen minutes.”

Late morning my wife found me on the sofa relaxing after a breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast. I just needed to lie down a bit before I started thinking about lunch.

“You’re not exercising enough and you’re getting a beer belly. And if you’re going to spend all day and night lying on our new sofa, at least change positions so you don’t create a permanent groove.”

Ah yes, the new sofa, color eggplant. It used to be you’d buy a sofa or chair in a couple of colors like white, brown, green, but now you’re staring at an armchair in the furniture store listening to the salesman saying: “Yes sir, this comes in cabernet, milk chocolate and espresso.” Why not fenugreek and licorice root, two favorite colors of mine? But I digress.

Fifteen minutes later, we’re in the car heading up to Leadville.

My wife: “From now on, I think we need to stay on the main roads.”


“In case your water breaks.” Now I thought this was a cheap shot, although a funny one, but figured that discretion is the better part of valor, so I kept my mouth shut and took it like a man. And my waistline did seem to be getting larger, but I didn’t think it had anything to do with drinking too much beer.

We pull into the lot by the sledding hill, unload the skis, suit up, step into our bindings and head up the groomed trail. Shortly my wife is well ahead of me and I don’t care, because she is after all, younger. I’ll take my time and enjoy the day, and it’s not healthy to be too fit.

I ski on and then spot my wife standing next to one of the several mile markers along the length of the Mineral Belt. Yes, they have posts that allow you to see how far you’ve gone just so there’s no fibbing.

My wife: “There you are, I thought I was going to have to send for Search and Rescue.” She’s a member. “I’m going to see how fast I can ski from this milepost to the next one.”

Me: “Okay, I’ll catch up with you along the trail.” Needless to say, I had no interest in seeing how fast I could ski for a mile, and damn these mile markers anyway.

She’s off in a shot, and I continue with my leisurely pace up the trail. A couple of hundred yards later, I see a guy coming down the trail. An older gentleman, he slows down as he approaches and then stops along side me.

Friendly, I ask, “Do I know you?”

“Everyone around here knows me – I’ve been skiing this terrain for six decades. I go way back up there in the mountains.” He waves up the trail towards the peaks to the north. “Know this place like the back of my hand. If you don’t know me, you must be new around here.”

“Moved here year and half ago, and I think it’s great that Leadville provides this trail.”

“Well since you’re new, you don’t know about the problems we’re having up here. These darn mountain bikers have taken to skate-skiing with their dogs. The dogs run through the groomed tracks, ruining them, and they don’t even clean up the dog poop either. It’s a damned shame all the work we did to get this trail put in and now it’s being spoiled for the rest of us. No respect for the hard work by the people who made this all happen.”

I thought I better head this rant off at the pass: “Well, I did see some dog poop, but the tracks seem in pretty good condition.”

Didn’t work. “The government can’t stop the illegals from coming across the border, but you’d think we’d be able to sit down with these mountain biking youngsters and talk some sense into them. We can’t have this go on.”

One more try. “I can imagine something even worse up here.”

“What’s that?”

“Illegals on skate skis with dogs.”

He looks at me, his mouth opens, then shuts as if he wants to say something but can’t get the words out. He does it one more time, then turns to ski down the trail. Goes a few feet, stops, looks back at me, and then shakes his head. I smile back at him and happily ski up the trail to find my wife.

A raconteur and rogue retiree with too much time on his hands, Ladd roams the Arkansas River Valley looking for stories that need to be written. If you run into him, you might just end up in one!

One Comment

  1. Craig of the Highlands Craig of the Highlands April 13, 2011

    You saw Don Q. no doubt. A close encounter with the arch skimeister. And then there’s the ruckus skateboarders lined up for ‘plow’ day in May. Glad you saw some of the diversity here Ladd. It is always something. Usually smiles and greetings – if you see anyone.

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