Rough day

Dear Editor:

It was a “Chamber of Commerce” day at Wolf Creek on Sunday. New snow, cloudless sky, perfect temperature, etc. Ski conditions we live here for.

The first day of spring break meant lots of folks from elsewhere filling the base area and lift lines. All good. As opposed to the many days when it is, “just us locals” with the mountain largely to ourselves, on days like this I am, in a strange way, more proud of our area. This annual tide of often flailing, but almost always smiling, perpetual vacation-novices are a reminder of how blessed we are to live in a place that other people save their money and wait all year just to visit.

The lifts were busy and I was skiing solo, so I spent the morning hiking out to Alberta Peak, Montezuma, Boundary, and Step Bowls, then out to Horseshoe Bowl, and in for lunch.

It was after lunch while loading onto the Treasure Chair that one of those nice folks from elsewhere, panicked in his confusion getting on the lift, crowded me off the rising chair onto the ground below. The 6- or 8-foot drop was not far, but caught off guard, I landed directly on my left shoulder, fracturing my collar bone in a couple of spots and cracking a rib.

Just seconds after I hit the ground, ski patroller Kyle Frye was there to help. Just seconds after that, ski patroller Dan Whitting was there to assist. The two quickly and methodically got me stable and up and walking with Kyle to the first aid station. Their handling of this painful, albeit minor incident was careful, caring, and highly professional. I thought, “These are the kind of guys you want handling scared, injured tourists.” Thank you guys.

Thank you to friends Ann and Ron Bubb who cut their ski day short to drive me to the emergency room at Pagosa Mountain Hospital, and delivered my pickup to my house. It’s good to be a local. It’s good to have friends. Welcome to living in Pagosa. Thanks you, guys.

Thank you to the folks in the ER at Pagosa Mountain Hospital. Apparently I was not the only one having a rough afternoon, because the place was full and busy. But the crew at PMH got me in quickly, had me feeling no pain and x-rayed in no time. I felt (and we are) lucky to have such a fine medical facility and staff in our county.

Even on a rough day, there are many reasons and people to be thankful for, and no place I’d rather be than here.

Michael Whiting

This story was posted on March 14, 2013.