Feds crack down on Colorado's storied ski bum

Charlie Toups at his camper in the CDOT lot.
Charlie Toups at his camper in the CDOT lot.

In the U.S., there is a rich tradition of "hoboing." Famed folk singer Utah Phillips wrote many a song about his years hopping trains. In the 1970s, ski bumming became a way of life for many avid skiers who wanted nothing more out of life than the next powder day. Some would camp in tents on public land and work odd jobs to support the life. The case of Charlie Toups shows that it may be more complicated than it used to be.

Toups has been living the ski bum life for over 30 years now. He's 63, and has averaged over a 100 days per ski season, living in campgrounds or out of his camper during the winter, working odd jobs here and there shoveling snow while skiing at places like Mt. Hood, Mammoth, Aspen Highlands, Loveland, and Arapahoe Basin.

Toups' streak may be coming to an end. He is currently in jail in Georgetown, and has been held there without bail since November, charged with illegal camping, possession of marijuana, and resisting arrest.


Toups' troubles began in 2007, when, after the Forest Service confronted him over camping at Loveland, he moved his dilapidated camper truck to the CDOT lot uphill from Arapahoe Basin. This past spring, Toups was issued a ticket for illegal camping.

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On November 14, a Forest Service cop, Jill Wick, and a Sheriff's deputy, arrested Toups while he was skiing. He had previously been mailed summonses, which he had never received, given that he lives out of his car.

Wick later claimed to suffer a "post traumatic condition," even though Toups never got violent when he was arrested.

There is currently a Facebook page and an online petition in support of Toups, who faces up to two years in jail and $250,000 in fines. Toups could escape with time served if he admits his guilt, but so far has refused to do so.

Regardless of how you view Toups' lifestyle, it would seem the government is being rather draconian about the issue, and surely has better things to deal with.


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