Grand County Blog: Outdoor Adventures by Kristen Lodge | SkyHiNews.com

Grand County Blog: Outdoor Adventures by Kristen Lodge

It was the hardest physical thing I’ve ever done. I finished the Steamboat Marathon on Sunday. The day started at 5am when I had to wake up and eat then get on the 6:15am bus to Hahn’s Peak Village. I got to the start at 6:45am and had 45 minutes to stretch, warm up, and try to get warm.

The first five miles into the race were great. I felt strong; even going up the first pass. Training on the hills in Granby was key to feeling so great on the first hills. The next five miles were more challenging. At mile 18 my legs were feeling heavy. The sun was intense and the aid stations seemed too far apart. I said to myself it’s only 70 degrees, it can’t be that bad. (It was really 80 and I trained in 30 degree temperatures). I had to walk, off and on, between mile 20 and 22. It was Mile 23 that I knew I’d finish.

Mile 25 and 26 were on Route 40 so I forced myself to run the rest of the way; no more walking. Then, I saw the crowd and heard the cheering. The three best things are the event: scenery, volunteers, and the people who came out to cheer on the racers; these things kept me going. The scenery was spectacular; there was a runner in front of me who stopped and took a picture of the ranches and mountains. I looked over to what she was shooting and wished I had my camera as well. The volunteers at the aid stations were great. They passed out water and Gatorade and told me I was looking great; who doesn’t love that affirmation. The spectators lining the race course with bells and cheers were the best ever. Thank you to all of them.

On the way home I sat in the Fraser River; a substitute ice bath. I think it helped my recovery. Today I’m sore but I can still walk. It’s a good kind of sore; the kind of sore that makes you realize you have accomplished something tough. It’s the same feeling after a long backpacking trip with a heavy load.

I’m ready for the next race; The Habitat Hobble.

The Habitat Hobble is June 15th and starts at the Fraser Visitor Center. It’s a 5K (3.1 miles) and ends at Cooper Creek Square in Winter Park. Dogs are welcome. Sign up at the Fraser Visitor Center or online at http://playwinterpark.com/events/habitat-hobble

Recommended Stories For You

I went rafting on the Colorado River this week with a group from Destinations West. Our rafting outfit was Colorado River Run in Radium. This outfit doesn’t shuttle from town so we drove out to Trough Road to Radium; it was a spectacular drive. After all the snow I wasn’t sure what conditions to expect so I brought more that I needed: wool hat, gloves, soft shell, and long pants. I would have brought my wetsuit but no one else had one so if everyone in the group was cold, I would be too.

By the time the group arrived in Radium the sky was a perfect blue and the light breeze wasn’t too cold; a perfect day to float down the river. The vans shuttled us to Pump House and we would raft back to Radium

Joe Kelso was our guide. Our group divided into two rafts. I got to be on the “kid” raft which was very exciting at age 37. The other raft members: Ami 38, Jackie 15, Heather 15. The “adults” were in Ian’s raft; I won’t tell you their ages. There was a third raft of trainees who we met up with later at the lunch stop. This was the first river trip where the guide told us what to do if we were ejected from the raft. He said to float feet first into the oncoming rock. I started to get scared that if we did fall out of the raft that the water would kills me, first because of the temperature and second because I wouldn’t be able to get my feet pointed toward the rock and went head first into the “magnetic rock” that Joe warned us about. More later on the “magnetic rock”.

The water was calm which gave our group time to talk. We didn’t have to paddle so we all just looked around admiring the view. Joe told us about his donkeys and dogs. He lives in Radium and guides raft trips all summer. He is a former runner and recently got into Yoga. He says “Yoga helps be at one with the river”. Awesome! Since the water was calm Joe had to create some excitement and told us the “magnetic rocks” at the side of the river. Our raft seemed to gravitate towards it. Somehow he managed to maneuver us away from it at the last minute so we didn’t jar our bodies by hitting the rock. We got wet from the rapids a few times but the river was a bit calm.

Joe told us about the railroad tracks that followed the river. and the drop off into the river was steep. I couldn’t imagine the working conditions these railroad workers endured; one mistake and instant death from falling into a cold and formidable river.

We passed the hot springs on the way to Radium but the river was too high and it overflowed the sitting area. Shortly after passing the hot spring we stopped for a delicious lunch on the shore. There were remnants of a small shack and what looked like an old mine shaft but we all agreed it must have been cold storage or something similar. Rafting is living history and fun.

We got back to Radium after two hours. It was a fun way to spend a few leisurely hours on a Sunday afternoon. Joe guides longer raft trips as well. Check out his website: http://www.coloradoriverruns.com .

On Saturday I ran the Coyote Creek 8 Mile race in Kremmling. This race is 1 of 4 trails runs that are part of the Center of the Universe Trail Running Series in Kremmling. (www.runkremmling.com) The race started at Ceriani Park where I have never been. It was great to see a part of Kremmling I’ve never been to and it was incredibly beautiful.

The conditions were perfect conditions for an 8 mile run: cool temperatures and a few clouds. There was a gentle, cool wind. At the start I noticed many triathletes wearing event shirts and I talked to a few runners I knew from Steamboat. This race was filled with great athletes; I was intimidated. I ran by myself for the first 4 miles. The trail began on pavement, then changed to single track, then to a dirt road. I even saw a bunch of cactus on the ground. The sage in the foreground and white capped mountains in the background kept me mesmerized for most of the race.

The trail was rolling terrain and rarely flat. The most interesting part of the trail was when it went down into a gulley. It was fun to navigate through it, looking for shoe marks in the dirt to make sure I was going the right way. It kept my mind off how out of breath I was. That is the beauty of trail running; the terrain distracts and entertains runners as opposed to the sometimes-monotony of road running. In this race the views distract me, as well. Then, in the last 2 miles I ran with John. He had fallen a few miles earlier when a rock reached out and grabbed his foot. He was now running at my pace so we joined forces and finished the race together. We talked about our lives and why we moved to Grand County. Although my finish time translated to 11 minute miles, I would have walked more of the race if John wasn’t there and my overall time would’ve been slower. I finished 1:32:00 and wished I was faster. Next time.

The next trail run in Kremmling is June 21 with the Kremmling Classic. The race directors are offering a 10, 5, and 3 mile r. This race starts at the Town Park.

I’m finally able to run on trails on SolVista. It feels great to be off the pavement. I have just over 4 weeks until my marathon and the trails around the mountain are great training. I have to run for 2 hours as part of my mileage buildup and try to break the time up to prevent boredom. This morning I ran with my friend Tina for an hour then ran back to my house to get the dogs and take them on the trails.

My dog, Daisy, is just about a year old now and she’s never played in a river or lake. I’m not sure if she’s going to be a swimmer so I’m gradually introducing her to water. On the side of the trails are little streams of water that Daisy gets to practice playing in. She drinks the water and sometimes walks in it but it’s like she doesn’t know exactly what to do. It’s fun to watch her try to figure it out by watching what Abbey, my oldest dog, does. Watching them is a great excuse to take a short break from running.

During all this running and walking with the dogs my mind is running, too. I think about how yesterday I got a letter in the mail that my insurance rates are going up. I think about how expensive food is getting. I think about how gas prices keep going up. As my mind races I start to obsess and worry about all of this. I force myself to look around me, and being on the trails in the woods brings back the simplicity I need. I hear the birds chirping in the trees, squirrels racing across the trail ahead of me, the water current rushing under the snow and my hearts stops racing and I breathe easier. The natural world has always had a calming influence on me. I can’t always escape the bad news going on in the world but getting outside makes me remember all the wonderful things in the world.

When I first moved to Grand County last year people asked me how I liked living here and I told them I loved it. Then they said, wait until winter, I wasn’t quite sure what that meant.

Now I know. This winter was tough; windy, snowy, cold.

I made through my first winter in Grand County and all I can say is I need a garage. I don’t mind the sub zero temperatures during the majority of the winter but my car’s carpet froze from the snow melting on the driver side and then there were times my doors wouldn’t open all the way most days due to water freezing in the door. My car, also, made noises it shouldn’t have to when starting in the morning.

I’m glad winter is over and mud season is here. This is my first spring in Grand County. And while I can’t wait for the snow to melt on the hiking and biking trails so I can get hike with my dogs and mountain bike, I love the process of spring; the melt during the day, the freeze over night, and occasional snow flurries. This morning I am able to hike to the top of SolVista without snowshoes. Due to the cold temperatures last night I can stay on top of the snow. The view east from the peak is a bit foggy but beautiful and not a soul around.

This past week I’ve been walking the same trails over and over. I get to watch the scenery change a little each day from white, rolling hills to a brown, sage filled landscape. As the sun continues to melt the snow piles I watch the earth reveal itself. Sometimes what appears is not great; like garbage and dog poop. I see the sage, sagging and dead. There is bent hay and grass that will slowly come to life in the next few weeks.

I smell the earth and pine as I walk among the trees. I hear the birds chirp and watch Abbey and Daisy, my dogs, chasing birds.

I’m looking forward to running on the trails once the snow is gone and working on the hiking trail I’ve adopted – Vasquez Trail in Winter Park. I can’t wait to get out my mountain biking and ride Winter Park Resort and SolVista. It’s just around the corner; hopefully.

I’m reading “A Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion. Well, I’m actually listening to it on CD while driving my car. Didion is a non fiction writer/reporter/screenwriter who writes the story of the death of her husband (and writing collaborator). They were married for over 40 years. Simultaneously, her twenty-something daughter is very ill and is in and out of hospitals in California and New York during the year after John’s death. She talks about his death in a detached, medical, way. She details the medical documents, outlines statistics, quotes medical books and advice from others on how grieve. She tells the story of how she deals with his death daily and compares each day to last year by what she and John died.

But how is the related to Outdoor Adventures? This story reminds me that at any moment our life can be over. I’ve never thought about death much but I am the same age as Didion’s daughter and her illness came completely out of the blue.

Every time I go out on a skiing, mountain bike or hiking trail I acknowledge the risks. Then my best friend, Scott, who I met six years ago in Vermont, calls to tell me Jack died. Jack was his black lab that played with my yellow lab Abbey when we lived down the street from each other in Killington. I dog-sat for Jack many times, he was almost my dog for all the times I took care of him. Jack was a typical lab; loved to eat food that he wasn’t suppose to and ran away any time he had the chance. He taught Abbey everything he knew.

Scott had to put Jack down after fighting Lyme disease for two years. As a single person with dogs, and my closest friend are single with dogs, losing a dog is emotional and difficult. No, dogs are not humans, but they are our companions and to lose your closest companion is hard, much like Didion’s story of her constant companion and collaborator.

Abbey will be seven years old this summer. She limps a bit after a hike longer than an hour. I will always think of her as the puppy that needs many, many walks and hikes each day to get the energy out of her system. These days she just needs one long walk and is content to be on the sofa hanging out.

I don’t know how I will deal with losing Abbey, my constant companion. But for now, she will go on every Outdoor Adventure while she is still with me.

I left the valley for the first time in two months last weekend to participate in the Steamboat Pentathlon; it may be the only winter pentathlon in the country. I couldn’t find another outdoor winter pentathlon when I gooogled “winter pentathlon” but I did discover that in 1948, the Winter Olympics in St. Moritz had a Winter Pentathlon demonstration but it never became a formal Olympic sports. The five events were: Cross Country Skiing, Shooting, Downhill Skiing, Fencing, and Horse Riding.

Steamboat’s Winter Pentathlon includes these events: Alpine Skiing 400 vertical feet, Snowshoeing approx. 3 miles, Cross Country Skiing approx. 4 miles, Mountain Biking 12 miles, Running 5 miles.

I was the team captain and our team’s name: Mission Improbable. After substitutions dues to injuries, we had our team. I one knew our biker teammate: Randy Howie, a friend, photographer http://www.randyhowie.com , and accomplished biker completing 4 Ride The Rockies, 1 Bicycle Tour of Colorado and 1 solo 24-hour Challenge. Steve Palmquist joined the team to complete the Alpine ski, originally from Fraser but now living in Steamboat. Will replaced Grant Fenton on the Nordic ski. And I did the snowshoe and run.

The blue bird day made for very warm conditions for each event; everyone need to peel off layers as the day went on. I came into the race with positive mental attitude, training on the hills in my neighborhood at 8,000 feet. I thought that racing at 6,729 feet would produce fast race results; that was not the case. The snowshoe was slow as I walked up some of the steep hills on the course. I caught a tooth on my snowshoes and tumbled down the last hill. Will was fast on the Cross Country leg, and Randy took off fast on the Mountain Bike. I had an hour to rest for the 5 mile run and get psyched for the run. The 5 mile run was flat and fast and our team came in 7th of 9 in the Team Coed Standard Course. Time: 2:39:50. Not Bad.

Next year, I hope to do the entire course solo but I have to learn how to skate ski. This is the 3rd Winter Pentathlon I’ve competed in and it is a great way to stay fit and have a goal in the winter.

My friend Sharon Schoenberger is the Director of the Grand County Council on Aging. The other day she was telling me about their sleigh ride the seniors in Grand County went on at Winding River Resort. Owner Wes House offered the seniors a free sleigh ride.

There were 13 people who went on the sleigh ride and Sharon said a good time was had by all. There were 3 seniors from Kremmling, 4 from Granby and 4 from Grand Lake, Sharon and their driver. Transportation was provided by GCCA.

The sleigh ride was 45 minutes on the resort’s property. After the ride, Winding River provided a campfire and they roasted hot dogs for lunch. Winding River also provided chili, hot chocolate, chips and brownies.

Sharon’s husband, Ron, took these photos. Thanks for sharing and thank you to Winding River, giving back to the community by way of sleigh rides for these seniors.

http://www.windingriverresort.com

It’s beginning to feel like spring. I hear birds chirping that I haven’t heard all winter. The air seems warmer even though the temperatures aren’t much different. The snow piles have a contorted look of half melt prior to the sun setting. The windy winter may be behind us now, but since it’s my first winter in Grand County I’m going to assume the worst and be prepared for more wind and sub zero temperatures.

When I first moved to Grand County people kept asking me if I liked living here. I told them I loved it. Then they said, “Wait until winter.” I wasn’t quite sure what that meant. Now I know. But it’s only February 23rd and I’m sure there is more to come.

The wind. The wind has been unbelievable. I’ve asked people who have lived here awhile if the wind is normal, “Yes, this is normal.” I was stuck in Fraser one night when the flats closed and I was prevented from driving to Winter Park one morning since the wind was creating white out conditions at my house. (Although Route 40 was open).

One night coming home from work the wind inspired a poem. The snow floats across the road in slow motion and alternatively in whirling circling motions. Poetry is about the common place events in our life that are mesmerizing and repeating. The snow coming across the road was poetry in its movement. Once I was safely home I couldn’t forget about the wind and snow and wrote this poem, Mountain Wind:

It’s windy again and I feel less vibrant

As I drive over the flats and up the pass

The snow squalls drift over the black top

In twirls of snowy whiteness

At times in slow motion

And times a whirling dervish

It occupies my mind as I drive north at night

Occasionally a home, lighted, sits on the hill

As headlights approach I ease to the right

afraid

I cannot see cars in front

And no lights behind

Kenny Chesney plays on the radio

Reminding me of

Easier times

Summer time

I skied SolVista Basin this morning. What a cool mountain. The trails are mellow and well groomed. I just cruised the mountain and saw very little people and no lift lines. The lift attendants were friendly and even wished me, a single skier, a Happy Valentine’s Day.

As I was skiing the groomed trails I tried to figure out where I hiked and biked this summer. I want to know this mountain so well that I am completely oriented no matter where I wonder off to. As much as I hiked all over these trails during the summer, I still felt confused as to where I was and where I hiked.

This is why I live here, and why I choose to live in ski resort towns: To know a mountain in every season; hiking, skiing, and biking its trail system and truly know every section of a trail. When I moved to Granby I wanted to live near a mountain with a great trail system and I wanted to live close to a wilderness area. I got both.

I remember Trail 17 in Killington, VT. I knew every twist and turn on that trail because I took my six month old puppy Abbey there to get rid of her energy. We hiked that trail every day; in rain and humidity. I knew exactly where the murky water hole was that turned my dog grey and tried to avoid it. I knew where the mountain bikers would enter the trail and tried to avoid that area, too.

I want to know SolVista and Winter Park Resort’s mountain trail systems just as well.

This mountain lifestyle is why most of us live here. It’s why I do.

I like taking photos of trail signs when I’m hiking, skiing, or snowshoeing. Not only are these photos a reminder of trails I’ve been on, but they tell a story of a good day in the woods. They also serve as a reminder of where I chose not go. And, perhaps I’ll try that trail another time. All these photos are cool places I’ve been:

– The Great Gulf trail in the Great Gulf Wilderness, White Mountains New Hampshire. I’ve hiked and backpacked all around this small wilderness area including the 4,000 footers that surround the gulf. This photo is over ten years old.

– The Caribou Trail on the Maine/New Hampshire border. This trail sign reminds me of a hike with my friend Jeff Pengel who hikes a 4,000 footer every week; even during the winter season. It was a hike on this trail that made me realize that bagging peaks is not my first priority; safety is because during this hike I decided against driving on to the peak due to snow and ice. I wasn’t prepared for the drastic temperature difference and turned back to the trail head.

– The Devil’s Thumb Trail. This was my first major ascent to a mountain in Grand County. My trail partner was Gary Armstead, Fraser local for ten years. The weather changed from sunny at the start, to hail and then thunder and lightening. It was a great hike with a good friend.

– Fraser Experimental Forest – trail closure signs. This summer I mountain biked on these trails and am so bummed that they are closed for winter travel.

I emailed my friends at the Granby National Forest Service Office to inquire about these good looking wooden trail signs. The most important questions I wanted to ask “What do they do with the signs when they become too old to use” because I wanted one. Trail signs have such sentimental value for me because trails and climbing mountains with friends has so much meaning to me. You get to know someone very well on a mountain trail because there are no distractions; just walking.

I was referred to Vicky Burton who installs the majority of signs on Grand County’s Trails, Forest Roads, Highways, and Forest Boundaries. Vicky has been doing this for 6 years.

She says that the majority of the signs including size, shape, and color are dictated by the national regulation books called the EM-7100-15. Vicky does most of her sign installation in the summer months (June through September) – about 100 signs a year. She works with volunteer organizations to make this happen. However, she is mandated by Forest Regulation to dispose of all old signs and recycles these as much as possible. She even refurbishes a bunch of old signs from the Fraser Experimental Forest and are now on display in the Supervisor’s Office in Fort Collins.

I guess photos will have to do for now. Thanks Vicky. Vicky can be reached at vjburton@fs.fed.us for additional information about trail signs or if you’d like to volunteer installing them.

I just got this month’s Backpacker magazine in the mail and I’m so excited to read it and get motivated for hiking and backpacking. This month’s issue is the Gear Guide, and while I’m not a gear head, I do like to see the new styles and day dream about gear I hope to have some day. I would love to be a gear tester however any jacket or tent I test is going to be amazing compared to my current gear. But I’m really okay with what I have right now; for the most part.

Boots:

I remember hiking part of the Long Trail in Vermont in 2002. Mark and I were going to be out four days starting at the highest mountain in Vermont, Mount Mansfield at 4,393 feet. I was determined to wear my red rag wool socks and Dunham leather boots with red laces bought in 1988. I was old school and confident; they’ve never let me down in the four years I’ve owned them, hiking several 4,000 foot peaks. However, after slopping through wet, boggy low lying areas on the trails I was ready to throw them out. The morning of day Four, I was ready to try new technology and back in civilization I bought light weight hiking boots with Gore-Tex. Now, many years later all my sock are SmartWool and my boots are Goretex.

Packs:

I have the same backpack my parents bought me for my high school graduation present in 1988. It’s an internal pack red, with yellow straps, first introduced to the market in 1987: The North Face Snow Leopard. It doesn’t have compartments; it’s all one space. But, there are two side zippers that are the length of the pack that are handy. This pack has been backpacking and camping in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. This pack is durable. Would I buy a new one? There were so many great looking packs in Backpacker Gear Guide, but I’m going to stand by this one for a few more years. I can’t wait to get out this summer on the Continental Divide and see if it can withstand a Grand County summer of backpacking.

Jacket:

Here is where I struggle. I don’t have the perfect all around jacket for all my activities. I would love to have one for each activity and season. I’ll take one of each in the Gear Guide (Mountain Hard Wear, REI, North Face, anything) and ditch all that I currently have.

Tent:

Again,1988 gear comes through. I have a Green A-Frame Eureka 2 person tent purchased in 1988. I still have all the original stakes and poles. No leaks, no holes. Amazing. Would I buy one in the Gear Guide? Yes, I’d buy any tent from Big Agnes because it’s a local company (Steamboat Springs) that makes a great product and both owners of the company are Ironmen man times over. http://www.bigagnes.com

Even though the Gear Guide doesn’t review hats and pants, I’m adding them to my list.

Hats:

I have a pink, lycra-like running hat that is perfect for running and hiking. It doesn’t keep my head warm enough for downhill skiing or really cold temperatures, but I love it.

Pants: I own one great pair of hiking pants. They are Patagonia and are stretchy and perfect for snowshoeing, hiking, and just very comfortable. They are the most expensive clothing item I own. I bought them for $100. I don’t own a pair of pants, shirt, or shoes that cost more than $100 but it was worth it.

One really fun part of getting any new Gear Guide magazine is reading the outdoor equipment company’s marketing slogan. The best one so far is REI’s: “Out is In.”

Grand County Multisport Club Update:

It’s official. We have a club. The first meeting was held last Thursday at the Granby Library. We’ve decided on a name: Grand County Multisport Club. We will have a website and logo; coming soon. I hope that all members will create a blog that will link to the main website and we will create a blogroll (definition: a listing of websites that often appear as links on weblogs. This list of links is used to relate the site owner’s interest in or affiliation with other webloggers) of all member’s blogs so everyone can see what other athletes are up to.

All you need to do to join is send me your email address (lodgek@gmail.com) and I’ll add you to the club’s distribution list. I will be sending out updates and meeting times. We are going to try to meet once a month.

A quick summary on what the club is about:

We are a non-profit and non-intimidating organization whose mission is to provide an outlet for Grand County athletes to grow their athletic abilities and develop friendships through multi-sport endeavors. Our goal is to promote and develop a multi-sport community by bringing together new and experienced athletes in Grand County who share a love of sport.

Last night I went for a moonlight run in my neighborhood with my dogs. I wasn’t able to get a run in during the day so I was thrilled driving home at 8 pm and the moon just lighting up the night; I wouldn’t need a headlamp for my run. The temperature was warmer at 8pm than it was at 10am this morning so the stars were aligned for a good run. My temperature requirement is now officially 10 degrees for running. Since I don’t have a membership to any club where I could run on a treadmill, I have to run outside. It’s okay; it’s making me stronger, I hope.

I started out up the hill with the dogs on leash, and I hate to admit it, but they helped pull me up just a little. About 1/2 a mile into the run, a critter ran across the street and despite being on the road with potential cars, I had to let go of the leashes. The dogs chased what I think was a snowshoe hare. But, of course, they would never get it. That’s when a thick layer of clouds covered the moon and I couldn’t see. I finally caught up to them and kept running up to a new neighborhood where there are roads but no people or houses yet. That’s where the dogs get to run free.

A few full moons ago, at this time of night, I heard coyotes howling at the moon. They sounded so close and they were coming from the direction I was now running in. I was a bit nervous running here but it was so quite. The clouds continued their movement and it was bright once again. I got to the end of the plowed road, stopped to listen for howling coyotes or deer stomping through the snow pack in the rolling fields. The dogs, taking my lead, suddenly stop, too. We didn’t hear anything for one solid minute and continue our run back home.

There is something poetic and happiness-inducing, watching two dogs running free, stopping suddenly at a smell or sound, and racing back to make sure I’m still coming. They are so happy, ears flopping, and tails wagging. Abbey, my yellow lab, will raise one leg and point in a direction like she is a hunting dog. Whenever I see her in that pose I get nervous that there is wild life around and I try to distract her and run in the opposite direction of her pointing. Watching my puppy trying to razz my older dog by chewing on her ears is a constant joy. Some times Abbey will get into it and play and other times a short growl is enough to say, leave me alone. Then they run off is separate directions.

More clouds come in and out and alternatively I am able to not see and see what I am running on: snow, pavement, a pot hole, or ice. My eyes try to stay adjusted as I keep running. As I run I think of the Pentathlon I’m signed up for on March 1st. I’m going to run up the mountain (400 yards) and ski down, then snowshoeing 1.5 miles, one teammate will Nordic ski, my other teammate will mountain bikes, then I finish with a 2 mile run. This is my 3rd pentathlon and every time I enter I really want to do all the events myself but every year I am not prepared for the Nordic ski. I could wing it, but once I’m out there racing my competitive side takes over and I could really hurt myself. So, again, this year, it’s a team effort. I’ve done the snowshoe and run leg but never the run up Howelsen Hill and ski down. But it’s the next logical step before doing all the entire event as an individual. Next Year.

It’s just one more step toward Ironman “Anything is Possible”

Grand Lake is the snowmobile capital of Colorado. I’ve heard stories of the snowmobiling life in Grand Lake: mainly how people can snowmobile down the main street. I wanted to experience this and fortunately I know Ami Frutchey, President of the Grand Lake Trail Groomers. She offered a guided tour of the Grand Lake trail system.

Ami has lived in Grand Lake for seven years. She came to the valley as a ski instructor at Winter Park Resort. As soon as she purchased a snowmobile she never strapped on skis again. As the president of the Grand Lake Trail Grooming organization, she makes sure that all 120 miles of trails are groomed. This non-profit organization has a volunteer staff and 2 paid trail groomers who work full time from Thanksgiving to the end of March. They own 3 grooming machines that were purchased through grants and trails are primary groomed at night.

The Grand Lake Trail Groomer started in the 70s by a group of locals in Grand County who wanted to maintain the trail system in Grand Lake. The primary goal of the organization: to keep trails safe.

Ami and I started our ride at the Idleglenn staging area off County Road 4. It was -10 degrees when we started but the views made it worthwhile. We didn’t see any other snowmobiles, most likely due to the temperature. We did see wildlife, most likely a coyote. I got the “stop” hand signal from Ami while we waited a few minutes for the animal to move off the trail. We didn’t see it again.

The views continued to be spectacular and I stopped a few times to take some photos. I love the Colorado bluebird sky days when the sky is that perfect hue of blue and the peaks in the distance are blue-grey.

I was anxious to get to town because I really wanted to ride through downtown and park my snowmobile in a parking spot. We decide to warm up at The Village Hub. Sarah Markel made us the best latte’s and told us about her spin class. She takes out the tables in the coffee house/bike shop and transforms the space into a spin class. Classes are held on Mondays and Fridays at 6pm. If you bring your own trainer and bike it’s only $5.

Once we warmed up we headed back to the trails. Due to the weather we didn’t stay out long, but long enough to see a part of Grand Lake I’ve never seen. And, I got to fulfill my dream of riding a snowmobile through Grand Lake! The Grand Lake Trail Groomers have Trail Host who serve as “information vessels” to trail riders. If you love to ride and share information to other riders, they are always looking for volunteers. If interested email trailgroomers@yahoo.com

Thanks Ami for a great day in Grand Lake.

Now that it is mid-January, there is talk on the radio and television about people getting the Winter Blues. When I lived in Maine and New Hampshire it was easy to get the Winter Blues since the sun is never out much but becoming more active in the winter is great way to combat the blue. I started skiing and snowshoeing and the blue went away. Living in a ski town with all the outdoor activities and people help too.

So I posed a question of the day to my friends who live in ski towns: Do you still get the Winter Blues when you live in a ski town, the skiing is awesome, and if it’s not snowing everyday, it’s sunny?

Killington, VT: “No, I don’t get the blues – although it’s been a long time since we have had snowfall every day – pouring and freezing rain today and the lifts have ALL just closed because of icing”

Steamboat, CO “When I can find an hour to ski knee-deep powder each day I am happy as a clam”

Winter Park, CO “If the sun shines in between I don’t get the blues. I love the fresh snow – it makes everything look so pretty.”

Here is a great way to prevent the Winter Blues this season:

Come to the organizational meeting on January 24th to discuss forming a Triathlon or Multi-Sport Club in Grand County. You don’t have to be a triathlete or multi-sport athlete to attend. Anyone interested in meeting new people with similar interests and organizing group runs, hikes, bike rides, or skiing is invited to attend. 5:30 at the Community Meeting Room at the Granby Library.

If you have any questions you can email me lodgek@gmail.com or call me 970-819-0316.

Go back to article