There Is A Trail Up In The Rocky Mountains That You Should Never Hike, And For Good Reason

Michael Chen
Michael Chen

Working at a museum could not be any more boring. I can’t believe I spent eight years in college to get a degree which granted me the honor of having a job where I sat around a dusty building all day and occasionally had to recommend restaurants to slack-jawed tourists.

The only saving grace of my job at the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum was Ezra. Ezra was a chew-spitting volunteer who said he was 105-years-old whenever you asked him. He probably wasn’t actually that far from that age and was the only person working in the museum who had ever actually been anywhere near a working mine.

Ezra spent his entire working life in the mines of rural Colorado and had the scars and stories to prove it. He technically was an unpaid volunteer at the museum, but he may have been the most valuable employee at the place, being the only person who truly knew what working in a mine was all about.

I always made sure to walk by Ezra’s usual post next to the entrance when I came in with my morning coffee each day in hopes he would jump into a conversation with me. He didn’t always bite. If he made a disparaging comment about my doctorate, it meant he was in the mood for talking, if he just nodded, it meant he wasn’t.

“The good doctor is in,” Ezra’s rustic drawl stopped me once I walked into the museum on a brisk Fall morning.
“You know you’re the only person who has ever called me doctor, Ezra? Even my parents don’t.”

“What cha got there in that paper cup ranch hand? Foam macchiato or somethin girly? Better if I call you ranch hand than doctor?”

“Ranch hand is fine, making fun of my Starbucks isn’t.”

Ezra let out a thick cackle.

“It’s okay, I drink coffee too, just take it screamin hot and black. I got a question for you though chief? You got any plans for lunch?”

“I just brought a sandwich, nothing too exciting.”

“Perfect, meet me on the back porch at noon, I got a surprise for you.”

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