The risks of mountain living |

The risks of mountain living

April E. Clark
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
April in Glenwood

Somebody explain this one.

Boulders as large as tractor-trailers fall from Glenwood Canyon onto I-70 near Hanging Lake early Monday morning. And the damage is done. The largest boulder is a ridiculous 66 tons. That’s a lot of elephants. Unbelievably, there were no injuries or damaged automobiles.

What are the chances?

They seem slim, but then again it was midnight. So those chances go up a bit when the canyon goes dark in March. I’ve driven Glenwood Canyon many times late at night, and early in the morning, returning from Vail or Denver. When I think about the boulders smashing down on the interstate and no cars involved, I am mystified. As of Monday, this wondrous 17-mile stretch of I-70 is now a disaster emergency. Still, no one injured.

What are the chances?

Call me neurotic, but these are the type of odds I contemplate as a Midwest transplant to the Rocky Mountains. Falling rocks aren’t really a problem where I grew up in eastern Indiana. Neither are mountain lions and mountain men with commitment issues. But here, in a place I love calling home, those are the kind of thoughts that streak through my mind.

Luckily I have a short attention span.

So I can easily forget about boulders falling from high places and a mountain lion turning me into lunch.

What are the chances?

I can easily forget what scares me the most about mountain living with a float through the canyon or a hike with my dog. My surroundings are so spectacular I’m driven by what I can do next – instead of what I’m too afraid not to try next. Although I probably won’t be kayaking Shoshone any time soon.

That’s not because the canyon’s closed, either.

If you would’ve met me 10 years ago, I wasn’t that fearless. I was actually quite the fearful person. I worried about things like getting stuck in the elevators at Eli Lilly or locked in a Target superstore overnight.

Slamming my Jeep into a 66-ton boulder, not so much.

Ten years later, I come to terms with the fact that no matter how great – or minute – the chances of something bad happening in life, sometimes there’s nothing I can do about it. Even with the mind-control capabilities I like to claim I have. Like a rockslide in Glenwood Canyon, life’s disasters happen. Believe me, something that incomprehensible is hard not to fear. Just driving over McClure Pass this morning had my mind racing like the Busch brothers in Atlanta over the weekend. Which leads me to a racing thought. Imagine if a NASCAR race ran through the canyon.

That gives that “rubbin’, son, is racin'” line from “Days of Thunder” new meaning.

Life drops gigantic boulders from the tops of canyons. I’ve been known to drop F-bombs when riding a roller coaster. And sledding. It’s my natural reaction to fear. To those parents of children who have been in my presence while riding roller coasters or sledding, I apologize.

I can’t promise I wouldn’t do the same if a 66-ton boulder came barreling down the canyon at me.

What are the chances?

Probably less than being locked in a Target superstore overnight.

April E. Clark is thankful no one was hurt in Monday’s slide and wishes the Colorado Dept. of Transportation Godspeed. She can be reached at

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