Calamity Pass Trading Co: Skulls, Cabins, Fairytales / by chris miele

The internet is neat kids.  So neat that while driving across the country my girlfriend and I were able to make some new friends through the power of our little iPhones.  Via Instagram, Calamity Pass Trading Co. and its rustic mountain creations have been providing daily inspiration for my girlfriend and her business, Eldorado General Store.  When we learned that the owner Amy Symonds and her Colorado workshop were a reachable destination on our journey, we couldn't help but reach out.   Upon connecting with Amy, she countered our offer of chatting over a drink and instead, invited us to stay in one of her two rustic Colorado cabins.  With that kind of invite, there was no way we could pass up a chance to rest and recalibrate at her mountain ranch. 

The Trapper Cabin.  Quaint and complete with a family of foxes living underneath. 

Layers leading south to Walden, CO.

During our stay we were treated to dinner, drinks, and tours of the property.  Situated just 5 miles south of the Wyoming border, Calamity Pass Trading Co. sits on a magical swath of Rocky Mountain land.  Rimmed by the Medicine Bow National Forest to the north and the Never Summer Mountains to the south and east, this pocket of Colorado is an artist's playground.  The man of the house, Big John, delighted us with a personal tour of sand dunes just a few miles away.  Piled into a Yamaha Wolverine side by side, we blasted down dirt roads while viewing Colorado scenery and wildlife at 50 mph.

The dude himself, Big John. 


Exposed sides and no regrets.

47 MPH.

Amy's home serves as her studio, or gallery depending on how you view it.  Upon entering their log home it's immediately evident the caliber of creativity she possesses.  Every wall, floor, and nook were perfectly and authentically decorated.  Hand-painted skulls, salvaged glass bottles, vintage knives, and a myriad of mountain trinkets and talismans adorned her home.  Her handmade jewelry and handbags are perfect reflections of the space she occupies and the life she lives, all authentically and honestly American Western.

Master loft.  Master workshop. 

Calamity Pass Trading Co. purses in their natural habitat.

No bottle left behind. 

Our time at Amy's ranch can't be accurately recounted without describing how amazing her guest cabins are.  At over 100 years old, these rustic walls were the highlight of our 2 weeks spent traveling the country.  Amy took extra care in preparing these spaces, adorning them with all the same comforts of her own home, right down to the wood-burning stove and pillowtop mattresses.  Typical words like cozy and rustic do no justice to these spaces.  Instead these cabins offered a transportational experience to a time when life was much more whimsical, real, and simple.

Colorado backyards, aspens included. 

Rocky Mountain sanctuary.

Skull game strong.

What began as a chance to meet a similar creator turned into an amazing experience of sharing, learning, and gratitude.  Getting the chance to see how a true artist lives and works in a place removed from much of today's society was truly rewarding and inspiring.  The hospitality we received from Amy and John was larger than life.  Two days of sharing food, advice, and stories amidst the wild mountain air was something our souls will be forever thankful for.  One final thing I learned from our stay at Calamity Pass Trading Co; while my girlfriend searches the country high and low for treasures to share in her store and I scan the land for meaningful images to capture, it's now clear that a bigger part of our mission is to seek out human experiences like this.  Getting to make new friends and experience the way they live, that's what a travel lifestyle is really about.