Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Spring Skiing, Part II

This is a much-belated recollection of the wonderful time that Faith, Jennifer, and I had in the Colorado Rockies over Memorial Day weekend. We skied at Arapahoe Basin (or A-Basin), which was the only major ski area in Colorado still open at the time. They are often open well into June and this year kept the lifts turning a couple weeks after our trip. Most ski resorts quit at set dates when the contracts of most of their seasonal workers end or when the skier visits decline too much. The highlight of the weekend was the annual Festival of the Brewpubs, during which several local Summit County brewers offer unlimited samples of their tasty wares for a $20 cover charge.

With a herd of buffalo on the way up to Summit County

We enjoyed visiting with friends Dave "Red Rocket" Garner and Tanya "Viper" Muller. The Rocket, who has worked as a professional ski instructor and racing coach, provided some invaluable instruction to Faith, whose skiing form continued to improve. "Turn up the hill to go down the hill!"

Taking a break with Coach Dave

The weather on the mountain varied considerably as we experienced three different seasons in three days. I skied a half day upon our arrival on Friday and captured a few runs with my GPS. When I started shortly after noon, the sun was out and conditions were seasonably spring-like. By about 2:30, the clouds had socked in and brought near white-out conditions with wintery winds and temperatures. I was wearing my spring gloves and only a light base layer under my coat, but things were not so bad to prompt a return to my locker at the base. I had also left my boot heaters at home and remember riding the chair and thinking "summer officially starts in three weeks, and my toes are cold!" I felt a little warmer when I spotted a yahoo wearing nothing on his top section. Spring skiing usually brings out several characters in interesting get-ups. We also spied a sumo wrestler in a ruffly tutu and the obligatory chicks in bikinis among others.

Spring was back in season on Saturday, with mostly sunny skies and mild temperatures. Jenny dropped Faith and I at the hill in the morning and we met Dave and Tanya for a few runs, while Jenny went shopping. Though I took Faith up to A-Basin and Loveland resorts a year ago, she has otherwise not skied much over about 1200 feet in altitude. The runs were also about four times longer than the midwestern norm. Faith was pretty tired after lunch, so Jenny picked her up and I skied out the afternoon.

Winding down Humbug at almost 12,500 feet!

Making our way to mid-mountain for a break at the Black Mountain Lodge

Sunday brought near-summertime temperatures and full sun for most of the day to round out our three-season adventure. The conditions at the base were perfect for the Festival of the Brewpubs and the live musical entertainment by That 80's Band. Jenny, Faith, and I all skied with Dave and Tanya until about noon. Faith skied her first big-mountain blue square run, which fell away from the very top of the lift-serviced terrain at A-basin at an altitude of about 12,500 feet. After lunch on the hill, Jenny and Faith changed clothes and grabbed some seats at the base area for the afternoon fun. Dave, Tanya, and I grabbed a few more runs to close out our seasons on snow before joining them.

Top of the world!

The brewfest offered many excellent beers to sample. Jenny was the designated driver and took only a few sips from each mug. That 80's Band played two long sets well into the afternoon with only one short break. We met Cal, a mohawk-coifed boy from Wyoming about Faith's age. He seemed very interested in talking with her, but she was pretty shy initially. By the end of the afternoon, she opened up a bit and they even danced a little to the Tommy Tutone classic 867-5309! I missed most of it because I went inside to get a beer after the brewpubs' taps went dry - a really stupid move that I vow to never repeat. The extra beer was certainly not worth missing the family fun.

The excitement did not end when we packed up the rental car on Monday morning. On the way to airport, we were surprised to see a large brown bear in the median of I-70 just east of Silverthorne. He appeared to be trapped with a high wall on the other side of our lanes. We hoped that he could find his way back or that animal control could help him, but there was certainly nothing we could do. When you see a dangerous wild animal that weighs almost as much as your car, you keep driving!

All and all it was a fantastic weekend that I would like to repeat next year if time and budget allow. We'll even bring Zachy if he takes to skiing next season.


LuLu said...

I'm so impressed with Faith's skiing and so glad she loves it. When Zack gets on skiis you guys are going to have such fun together. Jenny will be at the lodge scrapbooking! Would have loved to see Faith with Cody - how sweet!

Anne said...

Ian's sitting in my lap saying, "MORE!" Harrison says, "hey, no fair...she's better than me!"

Faith is doing great!