Working For CKS – Good-Bye Tiff

Gear, Johnnie Kayaker

Click for Directions to CKS.

This is an inside story about a surely to-be-missed Colorado Kayak Supply team great.  Tiff Simpson interviewed and employed me this past February.  Although, I only worked with her for 3 days her persona is evident to the CKS Team. “Tiff’ll be here.  The store will be fine…,” a phrase I heard again and again just prior to training with her.  Confidence in the soon to depart manager was apparent as she accomplished closure on one task to the next.

Tiff Simpson will be missed by the Buena Vista community.


Seven years ago I was invited on a private June Grand Canyon trip where I met Tiff. There’s an undeniable energy that has existed for millions of years within the canyon walls.  It’s a place where the nature experience is equaled only by the life long bonds formed?

The canyon with an absence of technology and day-to-day distractions return us to a more primal state.  It’s this focus of enjoying life, exploration, and human interaction within the confines of geologic strata being cut by the waters torrent that makes the canyon a once in a life-timer.  There you can learn a lot about a person.

Tiff is my old Canyon friend I was excited to see annually as I made my kayak pilgrimage to the Arkansas River Valley.  Simply stated she’s one of the people in life who net-works, builds relations, a person who attracts.

“I can’t believe you’re moving to Crested Butte…”  Roommate Anna said as they packed her belongings.

Tiff extended her CKS stay because they needed her to help.  CKS is big.  Real Big.  And PaddleFest week is an aimed challenge for the team. As a PaddleFest rookie I could sense the determination and underlying stress to do a best job as a team effort.  It was not until after PaddleFest weekend while Tiff packed boyfriend Evan Ross’ truck and trailer for Crested Butte that I caught her for a couple of photos.


Tiff packed her life into plastic and cardboard boxes as I snapped photos asking questions.  “I’d like to do a piece on you working for CKS. Something that illustrates your character.”  That’s a challenge… it’s not easy to tell someone your character.  For that matter it’s not easy to illustrate with words either.  We walked back and forth between Evan’s truck and trailer loaded with clothes, adventure toys, and furniture.

Sometimes life tosses you decisions. Decisions that define your path.

Inside the BV house Tiff was packing kitchen supplies, “Well I don’t know what to say.”  I answer, “Just do your thing and talk with your roommates.  I’ll snap shots and do the rest.”

Roommate Anna helping pack opens a drawer listing the items, “Condoms, Teva duct tape…” Tiff embarrassingly smirks as we laugh and packing a series of boxes her sentences swiftly string along as fast as her packing pace, “I’m giving you my rum.  You can have my bed.  Do you have sheets?”

I repeat my notes to the room, “OK.  Condoms, duct tape, rum, have my bed, sheets… got it.”  Tiff laughs, “David don’t write the condoms.”  Tiff would later send me an email; “If you can put photos of yourself on a toilet on the net for CKS then I can be OK with condoms.”

Anna speaks,  “I think I’m in total denial I can’t believe you’re leaving, WTF. General Manager at Crested Butte Mountain Guides.”  Anna, looks at a box of yoga rabbit food (something I’d never eat unless trying to impress a girl 15 years ago),  “Does this make your gut smaller?”  Tiff answers, “No it makes your gut happy… anyone want this tapioca and corn starch?  David you’ll get these two cupboards.”

Life Decisions

Tiff has made one of those tough life choices, “Evan moved to Colorado from Wyoming for me (three years ago).  We’ve never lived together.  If he could move here for me then I can move to the Butte for him.”  It’s apparent Tiff loves her job and more so the people she works with and her community.

Tiff had a lot of food and emotions hard to contain.

Slowing for a breath she says, “I’m having a harder time with it than I thought I would.  I cried yesterday.  I don’t know if I’m getting sentimental with my old age.  I know if things don’t work out they’d let me come back with my tail between my legs.  OMG.  Why do I have so much food?”  As I watch her struggle with leaving her community I think what a great place to be in life.  To be surrounded by people who want the best for you.  And if your path does not work out then it too is great to further realize they’d openly receive you no matter the condition.

Tiff continues, “I’ve always been fortunate to work at places that don’t feel like jobs… more family like.”  Roommate interjects, “Inbred cousins family.”  Tiff’’s likable persona acknowledges the joke with a pleasant laugh, “Yeah we’re a bit dysfunctional… I love ‘em.”

Tiff wipes the stovetop, throws food in the trash and returns to the interview, “I don’t know.  I don’t know that I have anything super powerful to say.  Does anyone want this vegan chocolate?”

Did you enjoy this blog?  You might also enjoy, “Who is Johnnie Kayaker?”

When you need the best equipment… Choose CKS.

By David Hughes

CKS Content Media Specialist

Owner- Pucon Kayak Hostel, your economical Chile destination with beds, kayak rentals, and beginner to advanced rivers.  “Keep Kayaking.”

Director- Huge Experiences’ New River Academy, “And that has made all the difference.”

10 thoughts on “Working For CKS – Good-Bye Tiff

  1. Megan

    I’m not sure you can possibly capture Tiff’s character in a blog (or a 1,000 page book for that matter) but I think you’ve come damn close. Condoms, rum, yoga rabbit food and vegan chocolate, I think that tells a lot in itself.
    And to Tiff, who I am sure will read this, I can never imagine you going ANYWHERE with your tail between your legs! Love the adventure, and embrace it. You’re one of those girls that always lands on your feet.

  2. Jesse Becker

    Gonna miss seeing you when I walk thru those CKS doors…..I’ll just have to plan a trip to Butte into the sales trip next year. Best of luck to ya Tiff!

  3. Jr

    Is this really about some privileged Colorado hipsters “working” a new half ass job in a new, privileged mountain town some 40 or 50 miles away?? Yeah..big, major life decisions to be made…

    You people need a dose of the real world..


      Thanks for reading.
      CKS Admin


      Jr, I have to say this girl has character… good people. That’s what I was attempting to convey when I wrote you can learn a lot about people on the Grand.
      Being salary paid to work retail or being the general manager of any business is real. Long hours. And typically only offered to those deserving.
      I might have been the hipster you were referring to as daily I have the freedom to kayak after work. My summer freedom to play is pretty cool and a perk of both an education degree and a life choice to be here. CKS makes efforts to keep and encourage quality life experiences available to the employees.
      And yes it is a life decision to decide between leaving your job and your established community for a significant someone. That’s tough, painful and “real world.”
      This is a person of substance and character. This girl works hard and is real world. I have to say I’m bummed to read your response about such a great person and unique place of work.
      You’re invited to read along as I have a goal to write a weekly “Working for CKS” article that hopefully illustrates the character of CKS and the employees. You’ve made a point I should address. Descriptions have been about individuals and their character but have neglected illustrating the hard hours and infrastructure of CKS. Thus far these articles have shown a lighter playful side and in effect are not giving the whole picture. Of course, it’s typically more entertaining to show play of kayaking vs. work.
      The point is received and with some thought will improve the representation of Working for CKS.
      David Hughes

  4. steph allen

    TIFF !!! You are leaving ??? I swear if you stay I won’t let Luke ask “one more question” while in CKS. Honestly I owe you ALOT- that day my crazy husband with ZERO white water and kayak skills along side with my adrenial junkie teenage son came into CKS to purchase 2 kayaks and all the gear to go with it….you asked them of their experience. When Luke answered “none”….you said no way, not selling you anything. You sent them to rmoc for a class…they did and hands down I feel you saved their lives. Thanks a million and good luck on your new adventure. 🙂


    Crested Butte could use a good Cup Cake shop too.

    1. Dan Hamme

      You know it!!! We’ll miss you Tiff!


        we’ll have to shuttle over to CB next year to ski with those guys dan.

  6. Tiff Simpson

    Awwwww, you guys are making me feel all fuzzy inside; saying all these nice things that most people would save for a funeral. Makes a girl feel mighty humble.

    Working at CKS has been one of the best and most rewarding (and sometimes frustrating!) experiences of my life. So grateful I had the opportunity to be a part of the CKS family.

    I’m gonna miss you all (staff and customers alike) more than you’ll ever know, but don’t worry, you haven’t seen the last of Tiff Simpson. I’ll be over there to paddle often and, of course, y’all ALWAYS have a place to crash here in CB. Seriously, I could use some familiar faces over here while I adjust to my new surroundings.

    Take care and be well friends. xoxoTiff

    Oh and to Jr – Yes, you’re absolutely right, I AM privileged. Not in the monetary sense though like you’re insinuating; I’ve worked my ass off over the years in order to live in the amazing places I have. No, my “privilege” lies in the gift of having outstanding friends and getting to be a part of a truly special community like BV. My world is very real and everyday that I get to wake up and enjoy it again I consider to be a blessing. Best regards to you…

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