The Pole
Ear to the ground
“It’s like going to an auto mechanic who doesn’t own a car.”
– Local woman commenting on gender preference when seeking medical professionals for “down there.”

Area braces for hippie invasion
Lonely travelers look no further. The Four Corners made the cut for Lonely Planet’s “Top 10 Travel Destinations for 2012,” coming in at a respectable No. 4.

The consummate hippie backpacker’s guide, Lonely Planet referred to our underappreciated back yard as a “geologic, archeological wonderland.”
Among the must-see sites were the sandstone towers of Arizona’s Monument Valley, which were curiously described as “Hollywood stars in their own right, seen on a 17-mile loop or by Navajo-led walks.” Other main attractions include Utah’s national parks; Mesa Verde’s abandoned cliff dwellings; and the Four Corners Monument, where visitors can “straddle all four states at once.”

For more must-see destinations, go to:

Grander Traverse
For the least 14 years, the Grand Traverse, the annual 40-mile ski-slog from Crested Butte to Aspen, has been one of the epic adventures of the West. But as the popularity of extreme and punishing sporting events has risen, so has interest in the once mostly Colorado race, with registration selling out in a matter of hours.

However, organizers this year have made a little more wiggle room. Instead of the typical 100 two-person teams making the midnight trek along the historic mail route, 150 teams will be allowed.

“Ten or 15 years ago, this was an unbelievable event. But now there are more events around the U.S. that are like it, and there are more athletes interested in this kind of race,” co-director Julene Szuba told the Crested Butte News.

The course gains 7,800 feet in elevation through the Elk Mountains before descending Ajax Mountain. Using a wide variety of gear, from AT to telemark to lightweight cross country set ups, teams take between eight and 16 hours to complete the course. So far, there have been no major incidents in the event, in which people must rely on their own route-finding skills, although one year, avalanche conditions merited a reroute in what has become known as “The Grand Reverse.” Another year, a team got off course and had to spend the night in a cabin.

This year, the event begins an hour earlier, at 11 p.m. March 30. Next year’s race is already set for March 26, 2013. Registration opens Dec. 1.