Gateway to Another World: The Story Behind the Bluebird Backcountry Portal
Somewhere between Steamboat Springs and Kremmling, Colorado, you’ll find an interdimensional portal. At over 10 feet tall it’s striking to look at, though you’d be forgiven if you mistook it for part of the mountain. After all, it’s made of native beetle-kill pine—as much a part of Colorado as the hills or the snow.
The portal is the bridge between two worlds: The comforting familiarity of the front-country, and the beckoning wilds of the backcountry. On the way out, it serves as a reminder for backcountry preparedness. And on the way back to the base, it welcomes skiers and riders home.
The portal sign, hand-painted by Megan Norton, welcomes backcountry skiers and riders home. Photo: Justin Wilhelm
It was built, as you might expect of an interdimensional portal, by craftspeople of the highest caliber: Jack and Megan Norton, of CrossCut Reclaimed in Kremmling, Colorado.
“When Bluebird Backcountry approached us to build the Mountain Portal we were instantly taken in with the idea,” Jack explains. “The figurative and physical symbolism was just too good to pass up.”
The Nortons are in the business of transferring and preserving the spirit of Old America—an artist and a woodworker by training, they find a new purpose for everything from historical industrial interiors, to old barn walls, to wood recovered from beetle-kill zones across the West.
“We chose beetle-kill lodgepole pine instead of reclaimed wood for the Portal structure because it’s native to the valley where Bluebird is located, and it’s totally Colorado,” Jack Norton says.
Jack built the wooden structure, and the sign, created from old reclaimed floor joist, was designed, laid out, hand-painted, and finished by Megan.
Jack Norton built the mountain portal from beetle-kill pine—a quintessentially Colorado material. Photo: Justin Wilhelm
“The goal of the overall design was to be sturdy and enduring and to age and weather to become part of its surroundings,” Jack says. “The next time you pass through the portal, give it some love because it has the potential to be more than a couple pieces of wood and metal. The Portal could represent the very beginnings for a badass mountain guide, or the starting point for a search and rescue volunteer who someday saves many lives. And it’s undoubtedly the beginning of many people’s lifelong backcountry journeys.”
Jack adds that he’s no wizard (though we certainly feel the magic of the Portal every time we pass through it).
“I’m just a guy who’s good at making sawdust,” he laughs. “But I believe that energy accumulates at locations, and I believe the Mountain Portal can be one of them with everyone’s help.”
Beware all ye who enter here: Tons of fun lie ahead. Photo: Justin Wilhelm
P.S. Jack and Megan have hidden a message on the Portal. If you find it, there’s a prize waiting for you. Contact Jack at jack(at)crosscutreclaimed.com and tell him what it is, and he’ll make “something (small) and cool” just for you.