Reporter’s Notebook: Colorado Christmas


Photos courtesy of Lyndsie Ferrell Perhaps brought on by a recent family gathering, Valley Publishing reporter Lyndsie Ferrell looks back at one of her fondest Christmas memories.

SAN LUIS VALLEY — When it comes to Christmas in Colorado there are a few things that stick out in my mind from having grown up in the Gunnison area. One of my fondest memories as a child was the day that we would head out into the great outdoors to get our Christmas tree. My parents were very festive during Christmas. They believed in the magic of the season and made sure that my brother and I felt it every year, whether there were presents under the tree or not.

One memory that sticks out from all the rest when I take the time to look back on those years and it was a Christmas I will never forget. At the time, my dad was working as a snowcat driver for Erwin Lodge which is located north of Crested Butte. Many of my mornings during Christmas break would find me, 11 years old, riding through a dense forest along snow covered trails at 5 o’clock in the morning.

Most children would have given anything to sleep in but I on the other hand, loved the sense of adventure and getting to spend the day with my dad grooming the many trails in the Erwin area. My dad is fearless and was fearless when it came to navigating those trails day after day through treacherous terrain. I was never afraid. I loved it.

Erwin Lodge was known for its black diamond runs and only the brave would venture to their remote slopes to ski some of the roughest terrain the Colorado Rockies could offer. There were no lines, or lifts. Only several feet of untouched powder and my dad hauling you up to the very top of the highest peaks to drop you off and wait for you at the bottom.

Often times, we would escort Navy Seals and Marines from the US military up into the very reaches of the Colorado wilderness for training. Some of them came back successfully, others, well, there were times when we had to wait until spring to retrieve them. The Colorado wilderness in the dead of winter is a force.

This particular Christmas was amazing. My parents gathered us up one chilly morning and we headed out to get our Christmas tree. During the time we were living in a home that had vaulted ceilings and my dad had every intention of filling that room with the biggest Christmas tree he could find.

After a day of searching, we found the perfect one and with the help of several friends, we hauled that 20-foot Christmas tree back to our house as our very own. The front room was stuffed full of nothing but this tree. We had to attach the top of the tree to the ceiling, cut the trunk about halfway down to add a bucket for water and then the rest of the tree filled the room.

My mom spent hours, days even making homemade Christmas ornaments that were as big as the tree itself. It was a magical year and one I will never forget. It ended with a night drive in the snowcat up to Erwin where we gathered the avalanche control team and went to the very top of the Elk Mountains.

There was a full moon that night and oh how the snow sparkled! The avalanche control team set off charges and the snow flew into the air like the finest glitter. It was the most magical time of my life. Thank you for letting me share it with you.

Happy Holidays from mine to yours! Merry Christmas!