Tom Ross' column appears Tuesdays and Saturdays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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I accomplished the impossible Saturday night and dressed inappropriately for the 10th annual Backcountry Ball.
The shindig is hosted by the Friends of the Routt Backcountry each year to raise funds for its efforts to preserve areas of nonmotorized winter recreation on public lands.
You certainly don't have to be a telemark skier to roll into the Depot Art Center and kick up your heels at the Backcountry Ball. I showed up under the mistaken impression that one did not need to dress up to attend the BCB.
I expected to see women wearing print dresses accessorized with ski goggles and hiking boots. Boy, was I confused.
I'm sure many of you have showed up at a party and come to the awkward realization that you were underdressed. But how many of you have shown up at a party wearing the same overalls you wear when you're snowblowing the driveway, and been stunned to see other guests in tuxedos and sequined cocktail dresses!
Now you understand how my spirits sank when I first walked into the Depot. I had committed a major faux pas. Or perhaps I should call it a major snaux pas. Whatever it was, it was damn embarrassing.
To make matters worse, as we were leaving the house, I strongly hinted to my wife that she go back upstairs and change out of her stunning outfit and wear something more organic.
"You're going to feel out of place," I cautioned.
Now I can look forward to hearing those words repeated back to me until the end of time, or possibly longer.
As I stood in the midst of the glamorous crowd Saturday night, I decided I had no choice but to conduct myself like a fashionista rebel and sell it.
Fortunately, I was among friends who were willing to overlook my snaux pas.
The Backcountry Ball is a party where longtime locals can let their hair down with a bunch of fellow locals. And in troubling times like these, if you show up at the Backcountry Ball, you automatically become an official local.
"It's a community celebration," tireless organizer Leslie Lovejoy said.
Gigi Walker amplified her point.
Even in these times of dismal news on the economic front, events like this remind us of how fortunate we are to live in the Yampa Valley, Walker said.
She might have added, "Yes, it's true. We've all lost 30 percent of our net worth this year. But hey, we still get to ski pristine powder. And at least on a spiritual level, it makes life worthwhile."
I've never attended the BCB when the dance floor wasn't packed.
This year, it was the get-up-and-shake-it music of the Blissfull Mayhem band that made the party a rousing success. The Mayhem - Tom Wood on lead vocals, piano and rhythm guitar; Carol Ives on bass; Joe King on drums; and John Kessler on lead guitar - threw down a mix of Allman Brothers Band and the Rolling Stones with a little Dead thrown in (you can catch them again at Old Town Pub on Dec. 3).
Thanks to the generosity of many local businesses, the Friends of the Routt Backcountry raised between $9,000 and $10,000 during the weekend. They'll put the money to work partnering with public land agencies and in a brand new visioning process. It's intended to set out a plan of work for the second decade of the 21st century.
Nothing has been decided, Lovejoy said. But if you want to dream, imagine a 30-mile Nordic trail wrapping around public lands on Emerald Mountain.
If that ever comes to pass, I'll ski it in my brown Carhartt overalls.
- To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail email@example.com