Monthly Archives: December 2013

Recipes for the Gourmet Camper

Ever been starving-hungry on a backpacking trip and stuck with a bowl full of mushy yuck? Yeah, that sucks. In order to avoid such a fate, check out the Learnist board I just created: Recipes for the Gourmet Camper.”

recipes for the gourmet camper

When you’re roughing it on a camping trip, you don’t have to skimp on mealtime pleasure. This collection of gourmet recipes will keep all of your campers happyclick here to continue exploring

Skiing Triple Digits: Days 6-9, Backcountry Beginnings

Day 8-crestonDays 6-9 of the triple digits skiing quest involved two backcountry days, one slack-country day, and one resort opening. These have been my best ski days so far…for the friends I shared them with and, of course, for the fresh Thanksgiving powder.

Day 6: Skin up Paulie’s Plunge, ski down Cinch at Beaver Creek

I met up with my gal-pal Tarrie for this evening skin up to Beaver Creek from the Eagle-Vail trail, and Kai came along for some off-leash adventure. We skied from the top of Paulie’s down Cinch  into Beaver Creek village on some really rough track pack and then had drinks at the Coyote Cafe. Great vibe–World Cup crowd all packed in, gearing up for Raptor and Birds of Prey.

Day 7: Opening Day at Beaver Creek

I took a writing break to ski for a few hours with Antony at Beaver Creek for the season opener. Early-season-excellent snow in Rose Bowl, blue skies, light-fluffy stuff up high. Yee-haw! Happy day.

Day 8: Thanksgiving skiing on Uneva Peak (12,552)

Set off early on Thanksgiving morning with Bill, Kelly, and Kreston (above) to ski Uneva Peak. We parked at Vail Pass (10,662) and started skinning up the nearest trailhead on the north/east side of I-70. Kelly and Kreston brought along two dogs, including Otto, a gorgeous Malamute who belongs to a friend of theirs:

Day 8-otto

We skinned up to the summit of Uneva and checked things out. We decided to ski the east-facing bowl down to the lake, which was surprisingly good skiing! Kelly’s on her way down here:

Day 8-uneeva lines

We then skinned all the way back up to the summit ridge in order to ski back to our car, but because we felt some settling as we were skinning back up the bowl we skied down, we quickly changed our course and chose instead to ascend up a steep ridge, slick with sugary snow and icy rocks. We then had a little Thanksgiving celebration with sausage, cheese, crackers, and champagne. I like how this crew gets after it and knows how to celebrate, too!

Day 9: Resolution Mountain (11,911) and the Fowler-Hilliard Hut

The next morning, Tammy, Kai, and I set off from the freezing-cold Pando parking area (9,200) near Camp Hale in order to visit my friends from Boulder who had rented out the Fowler-Hilliard hut for a Thanksgiving hut trip. The adventure began pretty quickly out of the parking lot, as we needed to find a good place to cross the river in order to avoid adding an extra mile to our trip. We decided to trust a solid-looking beaver dam, but the crossing was delicate, and Kai (poor dog) was shaking as he followed us across. After a physical ascent, we stood on the summit of Resolution Mountain, Tammy here enjoying the blue skies:

Day 9-tammy on resolution

We took in the gorgeous mountain views and looked down on the hut where my friends were staying:

Day 9-view from resolution

Before we went over to the hut, however, we skied down a soft, buttery meadow until we hit treeline, and then we put back on our skins and hiked over to the hut. Some of the hut-trippers were on their way out for an exploratory hike:

day 9-hut hikers

Luckily, when we arrived, my friend Cathy was just heating up Thanksgiving dinner leftovers, so Tammy and I got to share in the lunchtime feast!

With full bellies, we hung out on the porch of the hut with everyone…

Day 9-hut hanging out

…until it was finally time for us to hike back up to the ridge and then rip off our skins for a full-on rodeo ski back out to the car. The beaver dam was much more tenuous this time, as the sun had softened the snow and ice–I think I was shaking as much as Kai was when I delicately slid my skis across. So…that’s it for Days 6-9!

Want more backstory? Read about the quest here:
Skiing Triple Digits: The Quest

Life-long Love and Good Snacks

A lot of things contribute to a good outdoor adventure, but two big things–LIFE-LONG LOVE and GOOD SNACKS help.

Life-long Love. By life-long love, I mean committing to something for the longterm. I’ve been thinking about that one a lot on my Skiing Triple Digits quest. I mean, this is only one season in my life. Sure, skiing a lot is the idea now, but I still want to be skiing when I’m a (really) old lady!

Snacks. Everything tastes better in the backcountry, especially when you’re starving and dehydrated, right? I’ve been trying not to get to the starving and dehydrated phase, though occasionally it still happens. My favorite backcountry skiing snacks include nuts (cashew and almonds mixed together) and nutty bars. Real food options are the best, and I like mixed nuts because they don’t seem to freeze as quickly as other things (like Cliff Bars).

I created the following Learnist boards to help inspire my life-long love of skiing and to help me get some better snack ideas. Leave comments to share your own! Click on the links (not the images) to access the boards:

“How to Ski for Your Entire Life”

Ski for Your Entire Life

“Energy-Packed Snacks for Winter Athletes”

Snacks for Winter Athletes

Skiing Triple Digits: Opening Days, 1-5

My skiing triple digits quest started on November 17, 2013, a week before Vail Mountain opened for the season. We had a big dump of snow, so the quest began:

Day 1: Skin and Ski Vail Mountain
I met my friend Tammy early in the morning at one of our secret parking places in Vail, and we suited up. In our lightweight-Dynafit-geek-race gear, we set off from Lionshead to skin up to Eagle’s Nest on Vail Mountain. We had to weave in and out of snow-making machines, and it was really crappy weather. Hence, no photographs. The ski down from Eagle’s Nest was also pretty crappy: breakable, variable snow. But that was it: Day 1. Gear sorted, legs warmed up.

Day 2:Downhill Ski Vail Mountain Opening Day

Day 2

On Day 2, I joined the masses and skied opening day at Vail Mountain. Low visibility, icy groomers, and not much snow. But…hey, sliding down snow slopes is fun, or I wouldn’t be doing it. I rode the gondola to warm up…check out the weeds!

Day 3: Double Duty, Backcountry Skin up Paulie’s and Downhill Ski at Vail

Day 3-1

Paulie’s Plunge is one of my favorite trails in the area. In the summer, it’s a nice mountain biking trail, and in the winter, it’s possible to skin up it and pop out on Cinch, a groomed ski trail at Beaver Creek. Paulie’s has become one of my comfort, go-to trails. It’s super quiet and beautiful, a forest full of aspen and pine trees.

Day 3-Tammy

Backcountry gal pal Tammy, above, joined me along the skin up Paulie’s, along with my dog Kai, a boxer-lab mix. Once we reached Cinch, we realized that things up high had been groomed, so we continued to the top of Beaver Creek’s Centennial lift and skied by ourselves down wide-open groomed trails, Kai running behind. Beaver Creek wasn’t open yet, so we had the mountain to ourselves.

Day 3 Blue Sky Vail

After a quick hot chocolate in Beaver Creek village, Tammy and I drove over to Vail and skied groomers for the afternoon. Superstar Vail blue-sky day.

Day 4: Downhill Skiing Vail Mountain w/ my man Antony

On Triple Digits Day 4, Antony and I went out for some downhill ski action on Vail Mountain.

Day 4 w Antony McCoy

Antony tore his ACL in March, and this day was his first back on skis. We skied some easy groomers, and he carved his first turns on that new, bomber cadaver tendon of his.

Day 5: Downhill Skiing Vail Mountain

On Day 5, I got up early and did all of my writing work for the day so that I could take off and ski in the late afternoon. It was basically a groomers day…no recent snow, dirt showing on the opposite side of the valley. I managed to cruise around on all of the Chair 2 groomers and came home from dinner, feeling happy, a bit more balanced with five days in my ski boots!

Day 5 Vail

Want more backstory? Read about the quest here:
Skiing Triple Digits: The Quest

Skiing Triple Digits: The Quest

I’m on a quest to do something I’ve never done before. The quest? To ski triple digits: to ski more than 100 days this season.

ski vailThe Backstory:
When I lived in the Front Range from 1998 to 2003, I thought that skiing more than 30 days in a season was a proud accomplishment. I snowboarded then, actually, and I lived a two-hour drive from Breckenridge. I worked full time, too, so it took a lot of dedication to drive up on the weekends, and even if I drove up every weekend for the entire season, I found that being on the mountain for more than 30 days in a season required serious dedication, effort, time, and money.

The Possibility:
I moved to Vail in the winter of 2007-2008, which is when I first wrapped my head around the idea that it was even possible to ski more than 100 days in a season. I lived in Town of Vail housing, and one of my neighbors, Sam, was a bus driver. But he was really a snowboarder. He snowboarded every day, and he found a way to adjust his work schedule so that he could either snowboard for a few hours in the morning before work or a few hours in the afternoon after work. He snowboarded all day on his days off.

west vail move

One April, I was skiing with Sam, and he told me while we were riding that lift that he’d had a great season.

“Yeah, today’s the day I break triple digits!” he said with a huge grin, his cute raccoon eyes sparkling.

“What? Triple digits?” I asked, confused.

“Yeah, today’s my 101st day on my board.” Holy hell, I thought, feeling lame for my personal best: breaking the 50-day limit that season. But he’d put the idea in my head. One day before I died, I’d ski triple digits.

skiing w sam

Triple Digits: The Time is Now.
So I’m still here in Vail, seven seasons later. And I’ve not yet skied triple digits, so I decided that this season is the one. I recently quit a full-time teaching job, and for work, I’m freelance writing and teaching part-time ski school. Like Sam, I’ll be able to work my work schedule so that I can ski. Maybe not every day. But hopefully more than 100 days this season.

Gore Range

Triple Digits: What Counts?
I don’t want to get too restrictive and obsessive about skiing triple digits this season. But my husband asked me a logical question: What counts? Could I just get on a ski lift and do one run and count that as a ski day? Legit question. Here’s what I decided:

1. Downhill skiing, on skis for 2 hours or more
2. Nordic skiing, on skis for 1.5 hours or more
3. Backcountry skiing, climbing more than 1000 feet, skiing down

As of today, I’ll be skiing Day 12. So read on to see where this quest has taken me so far, and thanks for sharing in the Triple Digits adventure!

Photo captions:
Ski lift in Vail | Moving into my shoebox apartment in West Vail | Skiing the aspens home with Sam | The Gore Range