Guest editorial: A story about the Park City community at its best
On Monday morning, July 12, I was on a familiar route hiking up Gotcha Cutoff at Park City Mountain with my former Basin Recreation co-worker, Senta Beyer.
On the approach to King Con Ridge, a healthy young moose stood up from its happy place bedded down in the cool grass on the south side of the trail. Naturally, we stopped in our tracks and slowly backed down to a respectable distance. It stripped a few leaves off a tree, then re-settled, camouflaged in the foliage. We gave up on our preferred loop and turned around.
On the descent, just around the bend, we met a fellow hiking up the hill: A visitor, working remotely on his cell phone.
We cautioned him on the moose around the next turn. He asked what a moose might do. We explained, worst case, he’d get stomped, that they are unpredictable and it’s best to respect their space and give them a wide berth, which is why we’d backtracked. In an odd moment, not wanting to be rude, he put us on speaker with the man on the other end of the phone, who happened to be the sheriff of Flint, Michigan. Introductions were made and the sheriff informed us our newfound friend, Richard Bernstein, is a Michigan Supreme Court Justice, and blind. He is also big on fitness, having completed over twenty marathons and an ironman triathlon.
Justice Bernstein recently returned from a trip to the Middle East. There, he kept up remotely with his official duties in Michigan, while taking on a noble task abroad to improve cultural understanding through a program that is part of the Abraham Accords, signed between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. It was Richard’s brother, a second-homeowner in Old Town, who offered his place for a several-week respite.
With his phone and cane, the judge set a firm intention to continue business as usual while navigating up the mountain, which is exactly what he was doing when we met up. The trick was this. A chairlift, to download, was key. Uphill is the direction best suited to use of his cane. On the downhill, a varying incline, loose dirt and rocks are problematic. When we convinced him that no lifts were running on “this part of the mountain,” he gratefully accepted our guidance on the descent.
It became a mission. At the resort activity center, we learned a person is permitted to download on a chair without a lift ticket, provided they sign a liability waiver at the top. To puzzle out an achievable uphill path, we were directed to Legacy Sports where expert staff advised on the mountain trails they know so well. Except for this. To blind-navigate to the top of the lift without taking a wrong turn stumped everyone. One staff member thought to escort us across the plaza to the ski patrol office. That’s where mountain patrolman, Shay Blackley, cracked the nut.
It didn’t take the patroller long, visualizing in his mind’s eye to suggest this: From the bottom of the hollow, Richard would listen to the cable vibration of Crescent Chair running on his right. He’d use his cane to hug the left side of the dirt service road until the sound of the moving lift faded. At that point, he would crossover, headed uphill on the right side of the access road. Higher up he would follow the sound of the Payday and Town Lift Chairs on his left.
Blackley entered his mobile contact into Richard’s phone so that, if needed, “Siri” could dial Park City Ski Patrol. Other patrollers and lift attendants on the mountain were made aware, to help if needed.
Forty-eight hours later, an exuberant Richard called me on his approach to the top of Payday Express, preparing to download. The plan worked. His is the kind of strength through energetic spirit we can all learn from. So is the can-do attitude of Park City patroller Shay Blackley.
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“This town cannot risk destroying this historic treasure by allowing a development that not only does not fit the environment but egregiously out-scales the entire town,” writes Nancy Lazenby.