Grand County Trails: Remembering Hal O’Leary and other bits along the way
Grand County Trails
The morning dawned full of mist after big rains cleared the air the day before. We headed for Winter Park Resort, where we greeted friends and co-workers of Hal O’Leary, one of the most influential men of our time in the ski industry and recreation as a whole.
Hal encouraged several generations to think beyond their disability and instead show their ability with what they still had. As a pioneer of adaptive skiing, a founder of National Sports Center for the Disabled and the Shining Stars Foundation, coach of the US Disabled Olympic Team and recipient of many awards, his impact on lives worldwide was tremendous.
Gary DeFrange presided over a tribute that Hal would have loved with people sharing stories, people that hadn’t seen each other in years, yet traveled miles and miles to pay loving tribute to this great man.
It was indeed old home week with everyone there with a purpose — to show their love of the man and the inspired world he left behind. Someday, the world will realize what it has lost.
Thank you Jan, Gigi, Kathy, NSCD, Shining Stars, and Grand Foundation and all the others for a remembrance that would have made Hal very happy.
Charlie and I walked down the mountain with Dixie, our golden retriever-shepherd mix dog that I am training for a therapy dog. She thinks everyone’s job is to pet her and will sit at your feet staring up at you with her big brown eyes until you do.
The weather was Colorado gorgeous, some sun and some shade. The hiking trail took us in and out of trees, through fields of flowers where winter ski runs would soon be, to awesome vistas looking out over the magnificent valley below.
Late summer flowers like asters, yarrow, Indian paintbrush, columbines, bluebells, fireweed, larkspur, sunflowers, scarlet gilia, and lupine, to name a few dot our trails, forests and meadows in July and August. Please, don’t pick the flowers; leave them for all to see.
Mushroom season is starting, but you should consult a knowledgeable person before picking and eating any of them. Knowing which varieties are safe can save your life, and little things, like cutting the stem a couple inches above the base and then covering that base with dirt, can allow the mushrooms to continue growing.
The ski resort trails, high alpine meadows, lush creekbeds, and other spots like the Aspen grove at the base of Nine Mile trail at the YMCA are perfect photo opportunities, so take pictures instead.
Since Colorado ski resorts send about $25 million in fees in exchange for being on Federal lands, wouldn’t it be great if a healthy portion of those fees were reallocated for things needed in the forest?
HTA has done a wonderful job securing funding to pay crews, youth corps and train volunteers to help maintain our extensive list of trails but think what a boost those funds would be. The latest bill is supported by both Colorado senators as well as Reps. Joe Neguse and Lauren Boebert.
Forest staff has been reduced drastically and forced counties to fund front country rangers — a partnership between the counties and Forest Service. HTA has created a Stewardship program to work with visitors and locals alike.
Keep an eye on the the Ski Hill Resources for Economic Development Act or SHRED Act that debuted in Congress in June allowing forests collecting various levels of fees to keep 60-75% to spend on staffing, trail improvements, or other ranger work. It could really make a difference.
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