If you’re lucky enough to be in the mountains, you’re lucky enough!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Welcome to Winter" Getaway

For the last month or so we have been trying to figure out a way to use some vacation time - Kathleen had some "Use it or Lose it" time looming, so we certainly didn't want to waste any of those days.  While we have not been huge winter sports enthusiasts the last few years, we have had some desire for a little change of pace - maybe a short break from running.  So we decided to get away for a while and partake of a few "cold" activities.
Last Sunday morning we were up early and headed off to Winter Park, Colorado - one of our favorite summer time areas - and cruised out to Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center for some cross country skiing.  Snow Mountain Ranch is a YMCA facility with several large lodges and campsites that cater to summer and winter activities.  Their Nordic center is nationally known and, when the snow season is in full swing, they generally groom about 100 km of trails for Classic and Skate skiing.  Even this early in the season, they had between 50 and 60 km groomed when we rolled into town.
It was very gray and spitting snow off and on when we arrived on Sunday.  With the temp around 30 and no sun to "soften" the track, it was perfect conditions for XC ski.  In the distance, you can barely make out part of the Continental Divide through the clouds.
Kathleen concentrates on her skate ski technique ... and staying upright!
I like the grooves - track skiing suits my un-coordination just fine!

As near as we can remember, it has been 7 or 8 years since we last did some cross country skiing. There is a reason that the skinny ski crowd are anaerobic wonders - this is hard work.  Bjorn, Sven, and all their Nordic buddies grow up on these skis and have lungs the size of hot air balloons!  Kathleen enjoys the grace of skate skiing, while I prefer the classic "in-track" method - it keeps me out of the hospital!
Camp Chief Ouray Livery
"Snowy" Trails - taking a break on the Blue Ridge
The Trapper's Cabin on the Homestead Trail

We were able to ski about 17 km on Sunday - yeah, that doesn't sound like much until you go try it...  Needless to say, the legs were quite tired but it was a great change of pace and helped us develop more layers on our "winter skin"!
Shoes - (Well, sort of...)  K Madshus Ultrasonic Skate
S Rossignol Evo Action

We got to check out some Christmas lights in Winter Park Sunday evening.  They were out hanging lights in Cooper Creek Square, pictured above, when we got back from a feeding frenzy at Hernando's Pizza.  The XC Ski action builds quite an appetite ;-)
Clear view of the Divide - Awesome!

Monday morning dawned bright and sunny - and a chilly 14 degrees.  Actually, considering that the Fraser Valley is usually one of the colder spots in the nation, that was pretty balmy.  We decided that we had not endured enough punishment, and would swing out to SMR again for some more torture recreation.
Frosty and his dog...
Going track today

Kathleen's legs were a little wobbly after the many years' hiatus from skate skiing, so she joined me on the classic tracks on Monday.  While we were enjoying the brilliant sunshine start to the day, our legs were weeping from pretty early on as a result of Sunday's beatdown - discovering all those muscles we don't use much when trail running or cycling!  There is no way we could waste a day like this, so we took our time and enjoyed great trails and fresh scenery.
Heading out Blue Ridge - some clouds rolling back in
Track along Blue Ridge Rd
We made another 10 km of trails before calling it a day.  We were pretty tired but really enjoyed refreshing our cross country ski "skills" and doing some totally different workouts.  We said goodbye to SMR and the Fraser Valley and headed off to Estes Park to spend a little time at Rocky Mountain National Park ... Stay Tuned!

Shoes - (or skis...)  K Rossignol Evo Action
S Rossignol Evo Action


GZ said...

I'd stick to the tracks too ... otherwise I'd be falling with that skate stuff!

Jennifer said...

I have never done x-country, just a bunch of downhill, years ago, while the pics make me instantly cold, it sure does look like you are having a blast! Cheers!

Julie said...

OMG! You guys are so lucky to get out and have a fun winter getaway with skiing:) I used to do the cross country skiing when I was a teenager. It is such a great workout...feel the burn in the thighs:) Kathleen, you look great and make it look so easy! Fun report with beautiful pictures as always:)

Jill said...

I "heard" you two were up in the high country for a little adventure :). Looks burrrr cold, but oh so fun!!! Can't wait to see what sort of shenanigans you two were up the rest of the week :).

Sitting here waiting for it to warm up a bit...19 degrees?? I guess we should be grateful there's not 4' of snow like our friends out east!

Have a great Sunday!!!

ajh said...

17 KM sounds like a ton! I haven't cross country skied recently either but hope to do some this year. We have good trails around here and I like the grooves too! When I lived in Quebec there were awesome trails. They went miles and miles around lakes. Just lakes, fir trees, white snow and blue sky. It was fantastic. Loved the pics as always.

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

The start of your vacation looks fun, but so tiring, too, but then who wants to sit around while on vacation?! Like the snowdog and the red barn pics especially!

I'll try shortening my shoulder straps to reduce the sway on my Camelbak tomorrow. Thanks for the advice!

Anonymous said...

I'm pumped to try skate skis. Seems like you'd have more control with them as opposed to the traditional xcountry skiing.

Looks like you two had a great time!

Look forward to running with you soon.

HappyTrails said...

Tim - Since you are on a training schedule (and we are not, so much!), let us know when you are ready for a mellower paced running day with us - that would be good. Also, skate skiing looks to be a bit more tricky than traditional 'kick-n-glide'. Just sayin.....

Laura@Run_Eat_Date said...

You two find the best Colorado places to have fun! Great pictures - especially your header photo! Looks like I need to head West to see snow up close...

Meg said...

I had so much fun reading this post, I haven't x-country skied in so long and you both look so at ease and peaceful on snow! It made me want to try it again. It sounds like you had a fun get away, just in time for the FUN of the holidays.
K, you do look awesome, fit and beautiful, as always.

Glenn Jones said...

Wow. I haven't XC skiied in years. I had so much fun when I last did though. And that took a lot for me to admit it when I was such an alpine skiier.

Seeing these pictures makes me want t move to Colorado...

Johann said...

Everything lovely about this! I think I'll have to plan some snow/skiing type vacation in another country one day. But before that I'll do an ultra run vacation in another country first.:)

Ace said...

Awesomeness. Great idea for a vacation. I was at the YMCA many moons ago, I love that part of the world. /agree on the XC workouts, brutal stuff!

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

That looks like a tough, tough, tough workout. I have downhill skied a few times, VERY BADLY. Not sure if I could keep moving forward for X-country.

Love your adventures.

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