Get Outside On St. Paddy’s Day

Why you need to shamrock out in the hills and woods rather than the barroom.

First and foremost, HAPPY ST. PADDY’S, everybody! Man, I love this day. Most everyone, whether or not they’ve got an apostrophe or a “Mc” in their name, will dress in green, pin a Kiss Me, I’m Irish button on their collar, and generally smile and giggle all day. Somewhere in there, a big ol’ pile of corn beef, cabbage, and red potatoes will be consumed. Droning pipes will wail, parades will march with pomp, and entire rivers will be dyed green to celebrate the heritage of the Irish people, which has nothing to do with green beer and barfing in back alleys.

I get it, I guess. Saint Patrick’s Day was originally a religious holiday celebrating the advent of Christianity in Ireland. For one day, the church would lift the strict Lent restrictions on eating and drinking. No brainer, people partied and partied big time. And today, they still party. But St. Paddy’s today is mostly about drink specials, poor attempts at an Irish brogue, and misquoting The Boondock Saints. Every March 17th, the diasporas sons and daughters of Erin are joined by every other jackalope looking for an excuse to get loose and the day disintegrates into a kelly green puddle of yuck that’d give the New Year’s amateur hour a run for its money.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for letting my freak flag fly and am always up for all sorts of shamrock shenanigans. And back in my drinking days, I jumped hat, ass, and overcoat into St. Paddy’s Day revelry. Every year in Telluride, there is a Paddy’s Day softball game—on skis mind you—between ski patrol and lift ops. The story goes that ski school bowed out after years of getting trounced by the more attractive and far more athletically gifted patrollers (BURN!). I have been on both sides of that game, as a lifter and a patroller. It is, by far, one of the most hilarious, rip roaring, fun loving, smile inducing St. Paddy’s shindigs on this planet and a lovable mountain town event overflowing with high-fives, cackles, and debauchery. Put it on your bucket list.

Two years ago, I was back in Telluride for the spring, visiting friends and closing out the winter. But rather than attend my beloved March 17th softball game, a few buds and I decided to rent the Last Dollar Hut and celebrate Irishness deep in the hills and high above town. We loaded our packs with supplies and made the trudge uphill. My pal Luke volunteered to drag a sled weighed down by our corn beef dinner, beers for the fellas, coffee for me, plus bacon, eggs, and snacks upon snacks. It took us a handful of sweaty uphill hours to get to the hut. I spent most of that time ping ponging around in my brain, wondering why I decided to make the long skin rather than stay in town and laugh at over-served ski bums while they figured out how to swing a bat and run bases on skis. But when we reached the cabin and the setting sun laid its embers upon the San Juans, I knew I had made the right choice. I was in the mountains, on skis, with four of my best pals. It’s my favorite St. Paddy’s ever.

Friends, we can all agree that we love the mountains. And we can all agree that mountain folk love any excuse to party. I am not suggesting otherwise. But rather than use this St. Paddy’s to propagate drunken leprechaunness, get into them hills and do something rad. You’ll feel much better on March 18th having summited a peak, biked a trail, or skied a sick line than if you try to beat your 12-oz curl max on your way to the porcelain bowl of sorrow. Nobody ever in the history of anything has been psyched to wake up with a splitting hangover, gut rot, and green beer party butt. Remember, overindulgent, shamrock-induced emerald IBS doesn’t make you Irish. It makes you sad. And St. Paddy’s is about being happy.

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  • Patrick W.

    “In woods and on the mountain I’ve remained,
    And risen to prayer before daylight, through snow,
    Through frost, through rain, and yet I took no ill,
    Nor was there in me then aught slow as now,
    For then the Spirit of God within me burned.”

    St. Patrick’s Confessio

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