Saying goodbye to Colorado: 3/7 & 3/8

Time is winding down for my Colorado Experience.  Wednesday the 6th was a bright, sun-shiny day.  I had plans to take kitesurfing lessons, but they were postponed to Thursday.  So, I decided to complete my second class, rather than go out to the mountain.  Thursday, however, was a good day spent kite surfing on Lake Dillon.  Though the winds were bad I was able to learn how to navigate the kite  and traverse the lake on my snowboard.  There is a picture of it out there, somewhere, but it hasn’t surfaced yet.  When it does, I’ll post it.  I did take a pre-lesson photo of sun-washed Lake Dillon.  IMAG0349

After Kite Boarding I packed my bags and ventured to the “metropolis”  Grand Junction, CO where I was picking a friend up at the airport.  We had a busy upcoming weekend planned, with a pending storm rolling-in, as well.


On Friday Morning, we were able to get up early and make the 90 minute drive to Hanging Lake.  The day started off beautifully and the storm held-off for the duration of the hike.  I discovered Hanging Lake exactly one year ago.  It is  quite a beautiful place, but what a difference between the two years.  The ice-enhanced aesthetic is quite different.

Last Year:


This Year


Last year:


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Last Year:

Hanging Lake

This Year:


If you ever make the hike to Hanging Lake during a snowy season, I strongly suggest bring a set of yaktrax and trekking poles.  I got my yaktrax at Marshalls for like 10 bucks.  I think I got my spare set of trekking poles there, too.  We encountered people attempting this in Chuck Taylors (yup Converse) and using tree branches as hiking sticks.  Definitely have to come prepared.

DSC01498But if you do, it is an enjoyable experience.

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As we left Hanging Lake the weather started to roll-in.  Rain started coming down so we stopped in Palisade, CO which, apparently, is Colorado Wine Country. (Yeah, I didn’t know Colorado had a wine country either!)  We grabbed a bottle of wine for dinner at the hotel, and went to check-out the Colorado National Monument.  There were some beautiful views surprisingly close to Grand Junction, CO.

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Life is Good!


ASPEN 3/3-3/5

I was in Aspen once before in March of 2012, actually Snowmass, but whatever. Last year, a 4-6 inch snowfall was a big deal and Aspen had been doing better than forecasts.   I grabbed a room, settled-in for a 4-6 inch snowfall and went to sleep super early.   Hearing the ruckus over at Zane’s Tavern, I fought my intrigue because I wanted to be up early for the snow.  Oh boy, when I woke-up all saw was blue skies!!!!……and absolutely no snow, not even a dusting.  The only thing I can take from this experience was that I took a hike to Hanging Lake in Glenwood springs as I had passed signs about it the day before.  I was so glad I checked it out!

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This year was a different story.  I had a room pre-booked and had purchased a 2-day pass through Liftopia’s Mountain Collective.  Snow was on its way and life was all good!



When I got into town I felt drawn to go to the cliche’  Apres’ spot, 39 Degrees.  I felt like I stepped from the slopes to Rittenhouse Square.  The DJ was playing house beats, people were drinking bubbly, and there was definitely a LaLa feel to it.  Actually after talking to someone for a few minutes she said “You have a very LA vibe.”  Ha.  Oiy  Aspen is a great town with a lot going-on.  After 39 Degrees I went to Justice Snows (Great Labor-intensive Cocktails!) and Belly-Up (Aspen’s renowned live music venue.)  I wandered into my room and settled-in for a sure-thing snowfall!  When I woke-up, I was disappointed.  It had snowed about 6 inches overnight.  Unfortunately, (usually fortunately) it was still snowing.   Off To Aspen Highlands  I went where the winds were ripping and the snow was dense.  It was Brutal.

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The storm lasted till last chair, then all done!


Tuesday proved to be much better.  I had been told by many to go to Snowmass.  (However, I also had someone tell me Snowmass was a Mini Vail.  WTF? Rubbish! )



Snowmass has it all!  Steeps, Snow, Trees, and Bowls!  The snow was still dense, but the sun was high above, the winds were calm, and the views were outstanding!

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I think I’ll be back to Aspen.




Vail Weekend March 1 & 2

A wonderful weekend was on-tap at Vail.  The Burton U.S. Open was scheduled to take place on Friday and Saturday, all sorts of silly events were associated…..oh, and it was snowing!


I got to the hill in typical late fashion, allowing everyone to slay the open terrain.  That late arrival did secure me a cozy parking spot along Frontage Road!  Not bad considering crowds of people in town for the competition.  I also happened to park in-front of a young lady from Denver.  I promptly stalked her to the top of the Gondola and sparked-up a conversation.  She adopted my sorry-self for a few hours.


We wandered out to Blue Sky Basin where we played in the trees, the bowls, and the snow.  It was pretty splendid.

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One thing about getting to the mountain at 11:00, the end of the day comes quickly!  I took a final run down some set of trees and, as per-usual, I got stuck in a ravine.  It was pretty, though.





After changing into warm clothes I grabbed a beverage with S before she made her way back meet her friends.  I wandered out to the Macklemore show for a little “What What.”  That song still makes me laugh! “Ohh he got the velcros!”

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Saturday was a typical bluebird day.  The snow got beat-up pretty badly, but there was still plenty of fresh to be found.



Ohh,  apparently there was still some half-pipe competition taking place.  Arielle Gold, Hannah Teter, and Kelly Clark.

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The day ended with a great connection back to PA.  I met-up with a friend of a friend and discussed life, happiness, and snow for a few hours.   Before the night ended, I had the opportunity to wander-upon two lovely sisters who currently live in Pittsburg, yet were born and raised about 5 miles from my back-home apartment in Washington Crossing.  Good Life, Good People.  Let it Snow!


Arapahoe Basin 2/28/13

Why?  Just because.  That being said, I asked myself the same question!  After the silliness at Steamboat, I wasn’t expecting much of a comparison.  A-Basin was No Comparison as its snowfall has been very unreliable.



Apparently when I went to A-Basin on Thursday it was snowing like a champ at Vail.  It is amazing the different weather patterns that exist in the mountains.


I drove to A-Basin at 2:00, took one run, and called it a day.  The overcast made it very difficult to see the contours of the slope and the trails were all sorts of skied-off.  One run was all that was necessary.  I suppose that explains why there were so few people on the hill.


Overall, A-Basin is a beautiful mountain with grand views and, when the snow is deep, there is excellent hike-to terrain.


Not so much, this time.


Steamboat Powder Day! 2/27/2013

Today was a rare early rising for me. but with a two-hour drive in-store it had to be done.

So there is this thing about Steamboat Springs just getting stellar powder.  I’ve seen travel shows that highlight Steamboat and Powder was a theme.  I’ve been here for a week, during a decent storm cycle, and Steamboat has been getting 50-100% more snow than the Summit County Resorts (Vail/Breck/Copper.)  The morning report, today, was 10 inches….(Breckenridge reported 4)…so it seemed like a good idea to make the drive.

I haven’t seen a highway snowblower in Summit County.

The drive from Breckenridge to Steamboat Springs is a solid 90 miles through a beautiful mountain-hugged valley, over the Continental Divide at Rabbit Ears Pass,

and down to the northern foothills of the rockies.  Did I happen to use the word beautiful?!?  My god, this snow-covered drive was amazing.  It totally made me forget that I originally missed an exit, 20 minutes into the drive, that took me 40 minutes out of my way.  No Worries, off to Steamboat.




I arrived at Steamboat Springs well after first chair.

During my first gondola ride up I started chatting up a couple of locals and asked if I could tag-along.  One asked if I would be able to keep-up.  I suggested that if they lost me, they wouldn’t have to worry about waiting-up.  Having already told them my story of where I’m going over the next 2 months, they considered me legit and adopted me for a few hours.

PERFECT!  From 10:00- 1:00 we took every possible tree run we could find.

Though there were a few tracks in the trees, there was POWDER EVERYWHERE.  I’m not talking nice carving 6 inches of thick poo!

N0, we were making turns  in nearly knee-deep pockets of fluffy champagne blower.

Everytime I giggled or woo-hoo’d I got a mouth-full of snow.  Ohh it was soo nice!  Finally!!

The locals wanted to go grab a bite, so I joined them.  I had to get back on the mountain, so I thanked them for their hospitality and went back to the hill.

Two more hours of investigating the hill with a few hikes and more powder to be found! (With the Rockies looking over)


Snow makes the simplest of things absolutely beautiful.
While the runout from Morningside was long, the sights were goooood.

My last stop was to the Strawberry Park Hot Springs.  Outside Temperature was 10 degrees, but the water temp was 100 degrees.  I arrived as the sun was setting and, after paying my $10 entrance fee, Iu was informed that it becomes clothing optional “about now.”  I had my swim shorts on, so no worries.  The soak was relaxing, nobody was neked, and being 8 miles from Steamboat lights, the stars were BRILLIANT!  Strangely, there were about 20 other people in the springs and people were chatting-up.  Of the 20 people, I met a woman from West Chester, a group of four from Lock Haven, a couple from Greensburg, and a guy from Ardmore.  Small world, for sure! No pictures!

The two hour drive back to Breck was a little rough, but the moonlight illumination of the mountains made it very entertaining. Two hours gives plenty of time for reflection.
I have to say it was a good day!

Keystone, Colorado 2/26/2013

Woke-up to frigid Temps and an unproductive cloud-cover today.  Original considerations were to go to Copper Mountain.  Unfortunately, despite weather reports hinting at some sort of snowfall over Colorado, radar wasn’t showing any love for the upper-elevations.  I bailed on Copper and made a mid-day trek to Keystone.  This was a good opportunity to use my Epic pass.  I have a tendency to be a little lackadaisical when it comes to getting to resorts where I don’t have to pay for the day.  I did need to check out Keystone as it is the only Vail resort that I haven’t experienced, so I made for a 1:00 arrival.


The conditions were less than perfect, but having had 115 inches of snow for the year and a snow base that rivals big bad Blue Knob, PA, I knew what I was getting myself into.  After taking the Gondola to the Top I decided to jump right into the trees off of the Mozart Trail.  Ugh! Silly silly silly mistake.  The lack of coverage provided plenty of opportunities for the trees, branches, and rocks to make their presence known.  Eventually I made my way to the Outback and took a few laps.  Conditions were a little healthier back there, but I wasn’t content.  I am missing my grand Powder Day.

Keystone, as a resort is a decent little place.  It is a full-on, family oriented resort.  The Village is very Vail-esque; tourist-based in the middle of nowhere.  The mountain does have some good sections of fun in the Outback, but unless the snow is healthy, its just not entertaining.  With an annual snowfall average of 235, the snow isn’t too healthy too often.  However, if you’re looking for a laid-back family get-away, Keystone is something to consider.  The mountain is surprisingly large.  With 3100 feet of elevation and 3100 acres of play-area, Keystone is a much less crowded option than her bigger sister, Breckenridge.  Shopping and Dining options were plenty.

Tomorrow=Steamboat !

Another day in alpine bliss. Sunday February 24th. Vail, Co.

On Saturday night another storm rolled-in with more snow potential.


Being a good boy, I went to bed early with the intention of getting up early. Well, I woke up late as always.  Those who know me….I’m not selective with my tardiness, it follows me everywhere.

I left the house at 645 and there was no traffic on the road….”wait, I forgot my backpack!”  Turned around to grab it.  Back on the road and 5 mins later “argh, I forgot my gloves!  Wait, no worries I have a spare pair in the pack I just grabbed. Look at me being prepared”. Another 5 minutes later “Damnit! My pass is in my other jacket!”. So I turned around, again, to retrieve my pass.

Just a little FYI.  Day passes at Vail and Breckenridge are $119 per day!  However, if ya buy an Epic Pass in April for the following year, it costs about $600.  That’s good for 8 resorts between here and Lake Tahoe, CA.   So, those of you who ask “How does he afford this?” That is how.  Driving a 10 year old car with 184000 miles helps, too.

So, 45 minutes later, I’m on my way to Vail. Again, not wanting to pay parking prices, I googled a great piece of insider knowledge.  There is free parking at Donovan Park.  On a Sunday, the mountain can be very busy, so the lift lines at the base of the mountain in the AM are a long mess.  However, Donovan Park is a quarter mile walk (along a pretty stream) to the Cascade Valley Lift.


Those of you who have been to any number of ski resorts at opening on a weekend powder day know of the long lift lines.  (Working on the Video Upload Parameters. Sorry about this Poor Load)

This lift takes ya to the top and one lift later, you’re at the top of the Lionshead Gondola.  From there I trekked across the resort (quite an endeavor) to Blue Sky Basin. Plenty of fresh lines to be had.  Trees


Apparently Vail has some drops.


The place is just Massive!




Going through the trees, we often have to be careful of the toll-collecting trees. Apparently this one wanted my pack, eventhough it was strapped to my back.


Notice the abrupt stop to my track. At least Geigrrig is durable. Withstood the force of my 200 lbs with ease.



Life is good, but I’m needn more snow!



Settled in. Feb 21-22

Leaving Altoona, PA on Monday afternoon meant I got to drive two long days. 9 hours on Monday and 15 hours on Tuesday got me to Denver, close enough. I arrived at destination #1, Breckenridge, CO on Wednesday evening with a storm rolling it.


The storm eventually dropped 22 in the Midwest.  At Breckenridge, it dropped 5 inches. 


Nevertheless, I drove into town, paid the 12$ parking fee at the gondola, and ventured straight to the T-bar figuring good lines could be had.  Being one of the first 20 in line, I was a little excited.  I should have known better. The bowls were full of rocks, wind-blown crunch, and not much snow. My board took a beating, and so did my demeanor. The mountain was crowded and got skied off relatively fast. Grumble.

Friday morning I woke up in my home for 2 weeks with little motivation to go play in the snow.


Upon checking the report on and Joel (no, I don’t know Joel, but he provides a narrative of weather forecasts) suggested a day on the hill. So, I wandered to Vail.
Vail immediately made me happy because I was able to park on Frontage Road, saving my the 25$ parking garage fee. The snow was fluffy and after hiking a bit. Fresh tracks could be found.

My demeanor was much more pleasant.