Brighton’s drumstick trio: “Jers,” Elle & Betty

A rag-tag snowboarder with a ratty-looking mop of hair held the door open for me. Then he graciously acknowledged my thank you.

A staff wearing a headband with jiggling Thanksgiving drumsticks raced by to check on something. I burst out laughing.

A lodge cleaner guy pushing a vacuum around the locker room looked up to cheerily wish: “Happy Thanksgiving and have a great day out there.”

I’d been in the lodge less than 3 minutes, and the staff’s exuberance was already showing the flavor of this ski area – Brighton. It’s always been like that.

It was Thanksgiving day and my first day back in over 2 years. Health things have kept me away. The staff has changed a lot, and I scarcely knew anyone. But the flavor was still the same– unleashed happiness and fun.

At some ski areas, staff members are uniformed and groomed to perfection. At Brighton it’s often hard to identify the staff from the skiers and riders. Some ski areas are upscale. Brighton is down home.

Today, too weak from recent chemo to ski, I brought my computer to the lodge intending to get some work done. I went for a cup of coffee and the cashier noticed my season pass but my non-ski clothes, and she said the cup of coffee was on her. Only at Brighton. She was new. I’d never seen her before but she had the Brighton spirit. Her kindness brought tears to my eyes.

I was pounding away on my laptop when a long time ski patroller stopped by with a hug. Hugs are common. Brighton is family.

Looking back over the years, Brighton has become a snowboard haven with woods and cliffs and radical off-piste terrain. Some people hate snowboarders partly because they are often counter-culture with a rumpled and unsavory look. But when I crashed a few years ago, it was Brighton’s snowboarders who stopped and stayed with me. Several times it was Brighton’s snowboarders who dug my car out during a powder dump. And today, it was a snowboarder who held the door open.

Brighton, at the head of Big Cottonwood Canyon beyond Salt Lake City, Utah, is family. And whether you’re a skier or snowboarder, Brighton has a flavor that lasts.


  1. Harriet,
    I’ve been a cross country skier since the 1970s and started snowboarding too in 1990. It’s refreshing to read your insights about people at Brighton. Hope you can get back on snow soon and Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Bruce Boeder says:

    Harriet, I went through chemo in 2008-09 and only went skiing once….but it was to maintain my then 48 continuous years of skiing (now up to 62). As always, it put a smile on my face and reminded me of why I ski. During some of my toughest moments with chemo and the stem cell transplant I would close my eyes and my mind would go to my favorite ski run. Keep your obviously positive attitude. It’s the only thing you can control. And let’s hope you can get on your skis this winter

  3. I love your article Harriet!! Glad to hear your return to Brighton brought back good vibes and memories to you! I’d love to go with you for our first outing!!

  4. Kindness isn’t about the who, but the how.
    We are all brothers and sisters, especially true on the mountains.
    Heal strong and fast.

  5. Alicia Schilder says:

    Well Harriet, you did it again… made me choke up while reading your stories. 🙂

  6. Bob Phillips says:

    Inspiring. Often during difficult times I become glum and forget to appreciate and be grateful for the simple joys of life. Then, I read one of your insightful, touching stories. Gets me back on track. Thanks.

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