Heroes are not just on the cover of romance novels where I live. These guys live and work right next to us, and I, for one, appreciate the heck out of them. Mountain men could give those cover models a run for their money any day of the week.
Last night, a big wind on Lake Dillon got the best of me when I had a boatload of tourists. The motor swamped in big waves and a 30-knot wind shoved me steadily toward a rocky point. Dilemma: Should I call for help? Or ... hope for the best and not bother the lake cops? One look at the midwesterners in the cockpit with me and I decided - yep, better safe than sorry.
So I called for help. Felt really stupid and apologized in advance, but the dispatch lady was encouraging. She said at least I knew where I was. Most callers don't. The officers who patrol the lake go home at the end of the day but stay on call later. He called and reassured me it was OK. He was on the way to the patrol boat.
Meanwhile, I fought the gusts and wrestled the sail up a little way. My passengers took turns helping. Later, when we were safely back in the slip, they admitted they'd enjoyed the "adventure."
It took me a half hour to get past the rocks, about 10 feet away from us, limping along with a small handkerchief of the main sail up. When the wind let up for a few minutes, I managed to get more of the sail up, and we shot away from the point. I called the officer back and told him he could stand down. We could make it back with the full sail. He again assured me it was all right to have made the call.
Just knowing he was on his way alleviated the sheer terror of not knowing whether or not we'd run aground and possibly sink against the rocks.
When I worked for Copper Mountain Ski Patrol, embarrassing gaffs like that on the job required reparation with appropriate beverages all around for fellow patrollers, as well as lifties, if one of them witnessed said gaff.
So, have to find out the name of the hero who would have helped me and make sure reparation is made.
While we're on the subject of heroes, those of you who come to the mountains to enjoy our trails, beautiful vistas, and cool temps, please be aware of those heroes (both men and women) in the background. They make your visit not only pleasant, but S-A-F-E.
Kudos to our firefighters, ski patrollers, search and rescue volunteers, rescue dog handlers, community police officers, sheriff's deputies, all mountain medics, 911 dispatchers, and those brave souls who fly Flight for Life for St. Anthony's out of Summit County.
We're glad you're here.