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
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