Rau: Stagecoach Classic draws 500 skiers | SkyHiNews.com

Rau: Stagecoach Classic draws 500 skiers

Diana Lynn Rau
Grand County Nordic

Diana Lynn Rau

Last weekend over 500 people enjoyed the trail that for many years connected Devil's Thumb Ranch with the old Idlewild ski area next to the town of Winter Park. Last year was the inaugural event opening this trail again after many years closed off by new landowners in the valley. With the cooperation of the U.S. Forest Service and some creative rerouting among private landowners, Devil's Thumb and the Winter Park-Fraser Chamber groomed a 15 km trail that is only open once a year.

The day was typical Colorado starting cold and warming up to low 20s and somewhat cloudy. The organization was great with racers for the 30km (involving an additional loop at Devil's Thumb), then racers for the 15km and finally trekkers and a few snowshoers for the 15km course taking off on a well marked course to end at Hideaway Park with all its Chamber and Town facilities to claim their lunch, beer and commemorative glass amid music and hundreds of their friends enjoying the rest of the facilities.

Floats, parades, sledding, and music were all part of the festivities. Hats off to another great event! And the best part is that parts of this trail can be used by locals and visitors alike year round. The Idlewild area with trails connecting into Rendezvous is a gem of trails right next to town and easily accessible by hikers with their dogs, XC skiers, and snowshoers alike. The Towns of Fraser and Winter Park have teamed up with Mountain States Snocats this year to cat groom from Winter Park Resort to Beavers Resort in Winter Park and around the Fraser River Trail. The result has been incredible, with great surface for Nordic skiing, fat biking, walkers and every winter use imaginable. Try it and, if you like it, tell your town representatives that this is money well spent. It is a huge addition to services available to draw back the visitor who isn't Alpine skiing the mountain. And the locals love it!

Ranch2Ranch

For more Trekking in the Fraser Valley, register for the Grand Nordic Ranch2Ranch Trek Feb. 7 – a 12-13k groomed course from Granby Ranch to Snow Mountain Ranch with aid stations and a barbecue available at the finish. Another way to discover Nordic skiing possibilities in our Valley! http://www.GrandNordic.org

Fat Biking

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Fat biking is increasing in popularity and the equipment is becoming readily available. Nordic Centers like Snow Mountain Ranch at the YMCA and Devil's Thumb are at the front of the movement even grooming trails specifically for these monster bikes. GIMBA even has organized several community rides in the Idlewild area. Watch Keith's column for more details. Just remember, if your bike leaves a track more than an inch or two deep, you need to lower your tire pressure to 3-4 psi or wait till the snow is more packed. Once you sink in and start falling over, there's no recovery – at least for this old gal!

Ski for Light

The 40th Anniversary of Ski for Light in the USA has been ongoing at the Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center with both blind and mobility impaired skiers coming from all over the U.S. Some brought their own guides with them and some were paired with volunteers recruited locally. Their final event is Saturday at 10 a.m. at the SMR Nordic Center in the form of a race rally. The skiers anticipate their time to ski the course and the winner is who comes closest – no watches allowed! Come see these amazing individuals navigate the course with verbal signals only. So inspirational!

Full Moon Ski

Grand Lake has a full moon ski this Saturday, Jan. 31, from 5-9 p.m. and their Grand County Pet Pals fundraiser on Sunday, Feb. 8, to benefit the Grand County Animal Shelter. And get romantic on Valentines Day – two for one trail passes on Saturday, Fe.b 14. New this year is the Foxy Freestyle Nordic Race, 15 km to benefit the National sports Center for the Disabled Competitive Nordic Program. There is also a 5km adaptive race and Children's 2km race. Call 970-627-8008 for details.

Do a snow dance

Time for snow dances. The great Colorado sunshine is eating at the snowpack so get your best dance moves revved up. Keep the white stuff coming!

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