Saturday, January 26, 2008

Snowshoeing, more skiing and boarding

Since we last posted, we’ve been keeping busy. Let’s see…

After six straight days of skiing and snowboarding, we took a day off on Wednesday, January 16. An arctic front had come in, and high temperatures were in the low single digits, so it didn’t seem like a good day for skiing. Besides, we needed to take care of mundane details like laundry – we just don’t have enough ski clothing to go for a week straight without doing laundry, at least not if we want to smell OK.

The next day was still cold, so we went snowshoeing. It turns out that we’re surrounded by National Forest and wilderness, so there are dozens and dozens of hiking/snowshoeing/cross-country skiing trails within just a few miles of our house. We picked a short trail to Lily Pad Lake. Here’s Sarah, bundled up in the forest:

A short way into the hike, we discovered that we were entering the Eagles Nest Wilderness:

The trail was pretty packed down, but we tromped off into the woods several times to snowshoe on some fresh powder. Even with our snowshoes, we would occasionally sink so deep that the snow was up to our knees. “Cascade concrete” is what they call the snow in the Pacific Northwest – that’s not what we have here in Colorado! This stuff is light and fluffy, and in the forest, of course, not so evenly packed.

After 1.5 miles of alternately hiking along the trail and playing in the woods, we reached the lake.

When we arrived, a couple of cross-country skiers that we had passed were taking ski runs from the trail down into the lake basin and onto the frozen lake. Although it looked pretty solid, we weren’t confident to walk out onto the lake, so we made our own trail around the lake through the snow. Then we walked back to the car. It was a perfect activity for a cold day – we kept moving and didn’t have to brave the high winds on the ski lifts.

The next day, Friday, January 18, and every day since then, we’ve been back in the mountains. Let’s see…

  • Friday, 1/18: Skied at Breck
  • Saturday, 1/19: Skied at Keystone
  • Sunday, 1/20: Snowboarded at Breck
  • Monday, 1/21: Skied at Breck
  • Tuesday, 1/22: Skied at Breck
  • Wednesday, 1/23: Snowboarded at Breck
  • Thursday, 1/24: Sarah skied and Brian boarded at Keystone
  • Friday, 1/25: Skied at Breck

The best day of the week, and possibly of the year so far, was Tuesday, when Breck had three inches of new snow and we were the first ones to ride the 6 chair (it has no other name – just “6”) up to the upper part of Peak 8. We skied run after run, floating through soft fresh powder, jumping off snow drifts and plopping down into powder, meandering through the trees in powder. It was fantastic, and even two hours later, there was still fresh powder to be found! We explored, too, finding the route from the 6 chair to the Horseshoe Bowl and discovering a steep, powder-covered slope that drops down into a run called Psychopath.

Yesterday started out gray and windy and our legs were tired from seven straight days on the slopes, so we thought we’d make a short day of it. Then we discovered a set of double-black runs on the leeward side of Peak 10, and they were so much fun that we did four or five runs there, taking us to about 3:00 in the afternoon. After that, we headed to the Whale’s Tail for happy hour.

Happy hour has been one of the pleasant surprises of living here. Although most things are expensive in Breck, the happy hour specials are ridiculously cheap. A pint of beer costs anywhere from a dollar to two dollars. That’s mostly domestic beer (PBR, Bud), although the Breck Brewery, maker of Avalanche Ale, offers their microbrews for $2 a pint until 6 p.m. Appetizers are often half-price, too, and one place has huge slices of pizza for $1.25, so you can drink a quart of beer and fill up on bar food for five bucks around here. It’s fabulous!

Other activities… We saw “Juno” at the Skyline Cinema in Dillon and loved it – Ellen Page was fantastic. We’ve been watching the Winter X Games in Aspen on ESPN. We considered going to see the event in person until we realized that Aspen is 2.5 hours away from here – it looks so close on the map, but there’s no direct route. We went to a Breckenridge Heritage Alliance talk on the reconstruction of a mine. And we’ve been driving through downtown Breck daily to follow the progress of the contestants in the International Snow Sculpture Championships – more on that the next time we blog.

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