I was one of Christine’s outdoor leaders on the Mountain O trip. She had just moved out from Connecticut to begin college at CMC. I am from the Roaring Fork Valley and was a “multi-year” student at CMC when we met. We both felt a friendship connection on that trip as we did with most of our trip members. It was a few months into the school year that our friendship began to deepen.
In addition to her other studies, Christine also became an outdoor leader. For the next two years, CMC became the foundation to not only our relationship but it fostered our love and understanding of our natural and wild places.
Bob Kelley, Gary Zabel, Jay Zarr, and Len Trusedale were all incredibly influential and highly talented teachers and mentors to both of us. These staff members showed they were at CMC because they LOVED what they taught and it showed in their classes and actions. It is because of these individuals, educational stewards, that Christine and myself developed such an intrinsic passion for science and wild places.
We finish our studies at CMC and both enrolled and began classes at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Christine began her pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology, and I embarked on a path that would lead to a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sport science with an emphasis on sports medicine.
During the summer break, Christine became involved with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and she landed a summer internship with the Ranger Naturalists of Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana. This became a regular summer gig for her except it mutated into a paid seasonal position with the National Park Service as a Ranger Naturalist.
I remained in Fort Collins for the most part, except for the occasional 2,000 mile round trip to visit her in Glacier! But during one of my summertime rambles around Fort Collins, I came upon a home brew supply store and wandered in. The home brewing bug bit me, hard! Soon I was home brewing almost every weekend. In Christine’s words “stinking up the entire apartment!”
I was fortunate enough to land a job at a small microbrewery in Fort Collins, the H.C. Berger Brewing Company. I started as the weekend keg washer and, a few years later, left as their gold-medal winning head brewer. Christine, all the while was continuing her career with the Park Service at Glacier National Park as well as being a Ranger Naturalist in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.
We married in 1996, moved to Windsor, Colorado, and had our first daughter. I was taking a break from the brewing world and working with an old brewing buddy at his residential and commercial remodeling company while Christine was a stay-at-home mom. The remodeling work was financially rewarding, but we both began to feel more and more like strangers in a flat land. We knew we had to get back into the mountains.
An opportunity dropped from the skies in the form of a job offer to brew for a small brewpub in Telluride, Colorado. We jumped at the chance and, a handful of weeks later, we had our town home on the market, moving van loaded up and we headed to our new home, Norwood, west of Telluride.
The three of us settled into a happy life in our 110-year-old miner’s house above 7,000 feet, feeling very much like the characters from the novel “Tom Boy Bride”. I was brewing away and Christine was working as an executive assistant to a high-end property developer. We both, however, continued to feel the pull northward from Montana.
Years before, during one of those road trips to Glacier when I would drive Christine up for the summer, I experienced an epiphany in broad daylight between Rock Springs and Pinedale, Wyoming. “The Glacier Brewing Company”.
In a flash, I knew the brewery’s look, the beer names, location, everything! I filed this away until one fateful day in Telluride when Christine and I were having lunch with her brother Bob. Bob was stopping by on his way out of Colorado to move to Flathead Lake, Montana. He knew about the “Glacier Brewing Idea” from previous discussions and we began to talk about it again at this lunch. One of us finally said “We should either build this brewery or never speak about it again!”. A hush fell over our table; we all knew we were going to build this brewery.
That was in 2002. Since, we have had a second daughter and have moved to Polson, Montana, on the southern shores of Flathead Lake. It was also in late 2002 that we did, in fact, open the Glacier Brewing Company.
Christine has become a well-respected, much-loved, fourth-grade teacher at our local elementary school. I am currently guiding our brewing company through its 15th year in operation. Our oldest daughter is heading off to Washington State University in the fall (we pushed HARD for CMC with her!) and our youngest will be rocking her high school as a sophomore.
From our formative years at CMC to the present, the two of us had sought out the wild lands to explore and have raised our daughters to recognize and appreciate the beauty and importance of these places. The four of us roaming over, around, and through enchanted places like Zion, Arches, Hunter/Fryingpan Wilderness, Glacier National Park, Arcadia National Park, and hundreds and hundreds of similar places. Including just last week when the four of us awoke at 12:30am to climb the glacial moraine behind our house so we could watch the Aurora Borealis dance across Flathead Lake!
It truly has been our experiences at CMC that have shaped our life decisions and directions as well as forged us into the people we are today. Our love for the wild places, our respect for our natural world, and our commitment to one another all began with our lives at Colorado Mountain College.