Diana Lynn Rau: Nordic skiers can participate in Grand County’s Winter Carnival | SkyHiNews.com

Diana Lynn Rau: Nordic skiers can participate in Grand County’s Winter Carnival

Diana Lynn Rau / Grand Nordic Corner
Grand County, CO Colorado

This year is the 100th Anniversary of the first winter carnival west of the Mississippi. Dec. 30, 1911, two Norwegians Carl Howelson and Angell Schmidt got off the train at the Corona Pass Station atop Rollins Pass to ski down the mountains.

About 9 hours and 44 miles later, they showed up with 35-pound backpacks and rifles in Hot Sulphur Springs at the Opening Ball of the 1911 Winter Carnival. The next day, the Norwegians built a crude ski jump and, shortly after noon, they gave a jumping exhibition that amazed the spectators. To commemorate these events, The Grand County Historical Association is inviting everyone to come celebrate six weeks of Winter Carnival – come enjoy fun family events throughout Grand County where skiing as we know it in the West all began.

The opening event of the Grand Winter Sports Carnival is the Reenactment Trek on Dec. 30, 2011, exactly 100 years from the first trek. About six trekkers in period clothing and equipment will start at the top of Corona and ski down the old railroad grade past the old Trestle, Ranch Creek Y and Arrow to the Idlewild trails. They will ski into the town of Winter Park, past Cozens Ranch, through Fraser on the River Trail, cross Hwy 40 to the FVMRD Ballfields and take the Fraser to Granby Trail to Tabernash and on to the YMCA. The trekkers will be escorted by the Bryan Mountain Nordic Ski Patrol from Devil’s Thumb for most of the Trek. We anticipate that aid stations in each town will have food and drink for our trekkers and distribute information about the Carnival sponsors and events that are being held countywide for the next six weeks.

The ski route is all on public trails maintained for winter access by Grand Adventures and Fraser Valley Partnership for Trails/Headwaters Trails Alliance. We welcome the public to join us along the way, whether on skis or snowshoes or just walking along.

At the YMCA, everyone is invited to join the Citizens Trek starting from the YMCA Nordic Center and skiing behind Nine Mile Mountain on private lands to Cottonwood Pass and into Hot Sulphur Springs to light the torch for the Winter Carnival Celebration.

If you ever wondered about the terrain behind Nine Mile Mountain, this is your only chance to traverse this private land for the next 100 years. Headwaters Trails Alliance, Grand Nordic and the YMCA Nordic Center have teamed up to allow this one-time-only access to private lands and we ask everyone to respect their privacy and stay on the marked trail. The challenging trail will be rolled but not tracked and we recommend light back-country classic equipment for 12-plus miles of rarely seen beautiful Grand County scenery and wildlife at its finest.

For this private access, trekkers must register at http://www.HeadwatersTrails.org/events and are asked to make a donation of $25 or more toward HTA and grooming costs. Trekkers can start between noon and 1 p.m. with official start at 1 p.m. There will be an aid station en route, patrollers and a sweep to make sure that all participants make it to Hot Sulphur by 4 p.m. for the festivities and opening ceremony. We recommend parking in Hot Sulphur Springs and taking the free First Transit/Lift bus to the YMCA departing hourly 10 a.m.- noon. Then you can enjoy the festivities after the trek including the ice sculpture display, ice skating rink, food and fun fest, historic museum, opening ceremonies, fireworks and bonfire. Families will have lots to do while awaiting the arrival of their favorite trekker.

There will be ongoing events for the next six weeks, check out http://www.GrandWinterCarnival.com/events for the latest information or call 970-725-3939. These events are all presented by the Grand County Historical Association. Vendor and Sponsorship opportunities for locals and businesses are still available for many activities. Contact Tim Nicklas at Tim@GrandWinterCarnival.com.

The Closing Ceremony will be Feb 11, and will feature the Cottonwood Pass Mailbag Trek presented by Grand Nordic, starting at the historic Coulter Post Office off Highway 40 at the western base of Red Dirt Hill mid-morning. Everyone will be required to carry a backpack with weight representing the mail to be delivered. There will even be a division for trekkers in period costumes. Sign-up information will soon be posted at http://www.grandnordic.org with a donation to Grand Nordic requested.

Participants will ski over Cottonwood Pass into Hot Sulphur Springs, one of the most difficult sections of postal delivery in the early 1900s. Again, there will be an aid station enroute, patrollers and a sweep to make sure that all participants make it to Hot Sulphur in time for the festivities and closing ceremonies. The free First Transit/Lift bus to the Coulter House will also be available from Hot Sulphur so you can enjoy the festivities after the trek including the button Parade, three-legged ski race, tours of the museum and historic sites, snowshoe softball tournament and, of course, the Grand Snow Ball.

What a year to be in Grand County! Come join us for the fun where it all began…

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