Barbara Lawlor, Peak to Peak
The small group gathered in Rollinsville reached for the hot coffee or the hot chocolate and wrapped their hands around the cup like hanging on to lifeline. It was bitter cold and the wind swept down the Tolland valley like a freight train, shrieking all the way.
It was the first run of The Climb, the new shuttle bus from Rollinsville to Ward. The group standing in the wind were the people responsible for making it happen. Bob D’Alessandro, the VIA Director of Customer and Community Services; Gilpin County Commissioner Gail Watson and Deputy Clerk to the Board Sharon Cate; Ralph Chacon, the mountain driver; and Cody Allen, the Gilpin County employee responsible for bringing the table that held the refreshments for the crowd.
But there was no crowd. No one in their right mind wanted to venture forth into the howling gale. Ralph Chacon, the driver, reported that he left from Rollinsville earlier, headed to Ward along the Peak to Peak Highway, and was turned back because of no visibility and drifts closing one traffic lane.
Chacon is no stranger to driving mountain roads. He drove the Gold Hill and Jamestown Climb bus and knows the Peak to Peak well, its beauty and its danger.
“I find the drive challenging,” he said, clutching his hot chocolate, “Especially with the weather like this. But I am glad to help the community and the people who need a ride.
Commissioner Watson and her fellow bus riders toasted with their paper cups, and they climbed on and took off heading north up the highway, disappearing into a large snow snake that enveloped the orange bus.
The first month of The Climb is free and the group is working on obtaining passes for students.