Want to know what it’s like to live in a mountain town? Longtime Elevation Outdoors contributor Eugene Buchanan paints the perfect picture with his latest book, Tales From a Mountain Town, Musings From 25 years of Living in the Colorado Rockies. From rescuing dogs via canoe and dealing with the dreaded driveway berm to escaping “urban” avalanches and housing more urban-oriented friends, the book chronicles the adventures and misadventures of living in the quintessential mountain town of Steamboat Springs, creating some of the best bathroom reading you’ll find west of the Mississippi. “Unfortunately, that’s where a lot of people seem to be reading it,” says Buchanan, the award-winning author of several books, including Outdoor Parents Outdoor Kids, Brothers on the Bashkaus and newly released Comrades on the Colca. “But they’re all short, so they kind lend themselves to that.” We caught up with him for his take on his latest tome.
How did you decide which stories to include?
It came about pretty naturally. It’s a hodgepodge of stories, many of which have appeared elsewhere—in such magazines as Outside, Powder, Skiing, Paddler, Elevation Outdoors and others. I just went through them all and decided which ones had that same sort of “mountain town” flavor, capturing the essence of what living here is all about.
What’s allowed you to have all these mountain town adventures?
I grew up in Boulder, lived in Telluride for a few years, and then moved to Steamboat in 1992 as the editor of Paddler magazine. We needed a mountain town with a vibrant river community and Steamboat, with the Yampa River flowing through town, fit the bill perfectly. The fact that it has a great ski area was just an added bonus. Steamboat has pretty good everything, all out your back door. You can ski, fish, climb, bike, hike, kayak, sup and more, all during your lunch break. It’s pretty awesome in that regard. It’s also an awesome community of like-minded people who all do the same. It’s pretty easy to find someone to do something with.
Who or what were some of your most significant inspirations for the book?
I always loved Outside magazine writer Tim Cahill’s books like Jaguars Ripped My Flesh and Pecked to Death By Ducks. While not in the same league, these are some of my own misadventures. There are a lot of people living here who inspire me, from bike racers to business owners to mountain climbers. But what they’ll share is the zip code they’ve decided to make their home. Steamboat might not offer the best of any one particular activity (and that’s only if you’re a snob), but it tops the list in having a great community.
The stories are pretty varied…any favorites?
That’s a hard one; they’re all so different, from a freak frozen rainstorm completely wrecking three feet of powder one year to the plight of tearing my ACL and skiing local “dorky” lines. And the stories aren’t all about getting after it. One’s about our roof somehow getting electrified, and another’s about coaching kids soccer. They’re just the situations you find yourself in in small, mountain town living, encapsulating what it’s like to live here.
You’ve done a lot up there…is there still more for you to do as a local?
Oh yeah, quite a bit. I’m actually pretty soft compared to a lot of folks out there. I haven’t climbed as many of the local routes around here as I’d like to, or backpacked enough, or summited enough peaks, or caught big enough fish, or biked far enough, or skied new lines, the list goes on and on. There’s always something else to do here, even after 25 yeas, which is great.
What do you hope readers will learn from the stories?
Hopefully, to take life a little less seriously, to celebrate and laugh at the day-to-day predicaments we find ourselves in, and to appreciate everything we all have living in a great state like Colorado, and especially those of us lucky enough to live in an awesome mountain town like Steamboat Springs. It’s not meant to inspire people to get outside or anything; it’s more to take advantage of everything living here offers, whether it’s enacting the powder clause at work or the ritualistic transferring of garage gear that comes with the changing seasons.
For more info and to get the book head to: eugenebuchanan.com