Another couple and my wife and I decided to go to Silverton for the Labor Day weekend. Why the government does not proclaim a "Entreprenuer's Day" rather than a labor day only proves that we live in a socialist country. Even the most basic understanding of economics instructs us that labor has no jobs if entrepreneurs do not create them. But entrepreneurs seek profits and profits are immoral in the religious system known as socialism so we celebrate the mindless slugs who perform manual labor instead. Go figure.
Silverton is in the magnificent San Juan mountains of southwestern Colorado. I was thinking it could be a big mistake to publicize the area with this blog post but then I remembered, my delusions of grandeur being shattered, that only a couple people read this blog. It really does not matter anyway as Silverton has been discovered by various groups, all of them disgusting in nature, and the Silverton I used to know and love no longer exists. They say that you can never go back. This past weekend I learned that lesson well.
Make no mistake, I am not complaining about the fact that the free market has determined Silverton should become another haven for Yuppies, biker gangs and homosexuals. People are free to do whatever they want to do. At the same time I am free to not like it. So all of the complaints that you read here today, if you manage to wade through them, should never be construed as calls for government to do something about the problems I perceive with the way Silverton has developed.
Our goal was to climb a couple of small 13,000 foot peaks in the mountains surrounding the town. These are peaks that I have looked at from other, higher and harder, summits in the area. I have saved them for some future date when I am either sick, old, dying or with people who are not particularly interested in a difficult day in the mountains. This past weekend I was with a family of relative neophytes who wanted to experience the alpine environment in a spectacular area. Mission accomplished. They completed their first "family summit" when all four family members arrived at the 13,000+ summit of Houghton Mountain, above the ghost town of Animas Forks. You may recognize the name "animas" in the aforementioned ghost town. The Animas river is the one the EPA dumped toxic waste into a couple of weeks ago. The river is fine, people are eating the fish and life goes on.
The mountains in the Silverton area never disappoint. It is what has happened to the town that ruined my weekend. In the old days Silverton was a sleepy little town that did little but entertain tourists for a couple of hours when they got off the train. Local businesses made their money from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and when the last train departed the town quieted down to nobody but the locals and a handful of people like me who like peace and quiet. For reasons that I do not understand, Silverton has been discovered. Several groups of rancid people visited town the three days we were there and it almost made me sick to my stomach to witness it.
Large gangs of motorcyclists routinely came into town, revving their engines loudly and looking around at the locals as if they wanted nothing more than to start a fight or a gang war with some rival biker group. They were all dressed in black, with lots of skulls and tattoos to prove just how amazingly insecure all of them were. Those that spent the night in town would ride their extraordinarily loud motorbikes up and down the street, apparently deriving great joy from making it impossible for people sitting outside to have a conversation until they passed by. I didn't dare make eye contact with any of them, including the women (if you can call them that), because I perceived that to do so would mean certain death.
I also saw something in Silverton that I had never seen before this past weekend. Two different flamingly homosexual couples made themselves publicly known while I was there. The first "couple" was walking down the street while I was sitting out enjoying the evening sunset. They were holding hands and talking as loudly as they could to ensure that everyone sitting out would look at them and praise them for their courage and love. They were not really saying anything of interest, it was mostly hoots and hollers to get people to notice them. It was impossible to not come to the conclusion that they were acting that way because their god, the federal government, had just granted them most privileged status. I longed for the days when gays fearfully hid in the closet. The second couple got out of a Jeep while I was strolling about downtown. One fellow was dressed in his best Freddie Mercury outfit, one sporting a feather boa. They too were shouting wildly and flailing their arms around so people would notice them. I silently wished there was an open season on feather boas. Sadly, there is not.
Even more disturbing than the roving gangs of motorcycle thugs and homosexuals was the complete takeover of the town by Yuppies driving ATVs. The bikers and gays would exclusively stick around town while they showed off. The Yuppies and their ATVs went everywhere, including into the high mountains. It was impossible to travel up any of the dozens of gulches around Silverton without hearing and seeing hoards of swarming ATVs. The morning we climbed Houghton Mountain we were the first to park at the ghost town of Animas Forks. By the time we returned to the road it had become a veritable parking lot, filled with ATVs. There had to be 20 of them parked there, each one with its owner sitting proudly beside it, talking to the other owners about their ATVs. They would pop open their lunch containers and gather around in large groups, munching on their lunches and talking about their ATVs. They were loud, smelly and downright obnoxious. I found the entire situation incredibly sad. I had stood at that very location just six years earlier, after carrying the remains of an old friend to the summit of an unnamed local peak, and had the moment to myself. Now I could not hear myself think.
Here is a picture of the down canyon view taken from the parking place.
On the way home I realized that I really can't go back. It is time to forge new memories and let old memories pass. What once was a beautiful town is now dead. It was a very sad Labor Day weekend for me, and not just because it is a national celebration of socialism.