Monday, March 14, 2011

Skiing is almost out and 14er Hiking Season is In

This past winter I haven't had much time for outdoor activities mostly because I've been indoors completing my yoga teacher training. After two years of the practice I decided I wanted to take it further so in December I signed up for the winter yoga teacher training which began in January. This meant every other weekend, for three months I would be participating in lectures and teaching clinics from 11am until 6pm on Saturdays and Sunday's in addition to weekly two hour Friday night posture clinics and taking at least 4 classes a week. Needless to say between that, the reading, and the small group meetings I haven't had much time for else even on my free weekends.

I have did manage however, to get two weekends of skiing in - one at Monarch and one at Loveland. Both are smaller resorts with a little less terrain than say, Aspen, but they are both affordable and accessible. We bought our tickets before Monarch opened so they were cheaper and made a trip out of it when we went to visit my brother in-law in Gunnison. Lift tickets are only about $45 a piece so even though the drive is longer, you are paying less and dealing with minimal lift lines and of course free parking. Plus Monarch's snow is all natural so you don't have the icy runs that you experience at say, Keystone.

A gas station on the drive up to Gunnison had a promotion where if you bought ten gallons or more of gas you got a free lift ticket coupon (you just had to buy another ticket to get the free one hence more of a buy one get one free deal but still a great promotion) so we knew we'd at least get one more day in skiing this season. The deal was good at Loveland (as well as a few other mountains) so when Chad's parents came to town this past weekend we decided to venture up to the resort. I have never skied Loveland and it's one of my goals to ski at every resort in the state so this was the perfect opportunity for me to try some place new. Loveland is fantastic because it's right off I-70 West before you reach the Eisenhower Tunnel which makes it easily accessible. While it's known to be windy and cold, especially on top of the divide, we ended up having a beautiful day once the snow clouds cleared around noon. We decided to sleep in to avoid the early morning ski traffic so we arrived right around 10:30 or so and there was still plenty of parking. The trick is to park at the lower lot, ski a few runs on that part of the mountain which has a 4 person chair lift, then take the free bus over so you can ski the rest of the terrain. There is actually so much open space that we didn't even get to ski it all, but there was lots of fresh powder as well as groomed terrain and it wasn't too busy so you weren't running into people all over the place.

(chad with his parents before the clouds lifted)

Loveland and Monarch are both excellent mountains for those looking for a great ski experience without the hefty price tag. You'll find hardly any lift lines, uncrowded mountains and even your lunch will be cheaper ($50 for a family of 4 with drinks at Loveland which is unheard of trust me).

While I love skiing, what I really enjoy is hiking up mountains and the recent warm weather has put me in the mood to work on my 14er list for the summer. I plan to hike all of them, but realistically I know I can't conquer them all in a few months so I put together a list of those I hope to achieve the summits of (in no particular order):
Mt. Of the holy cross
Mt eolus
San Luis
And if I'm really ambitious Capitol!
Plus longs but not via the keyhole

I know this list is ambitious and long but at the very least I hope I can knock out the Collegiate peaks and those near Gunnison. It really all depends on the weather, how much I can get away, and most of all who's willing to come with me. I think I have pretty much hiked the only ones I can by myself already so I'll need companions for all of these. While I am sure I can drag Chad up over half of these, I have friends who are willing to help me complete my goal and for that I am grateful. I realize not everyone is as passionate about hiking as me so I have to hope I can conquer as many as I can with the people lucky enough to go with me ;)

Since I plan to hike Mt. Everest in my lifetime it's really important I gain all the experience I can now. Colorado is such an amazing state and I know I have more than a few mountains left to challenge me that stand in my way of achieving my dreams. But perhaps this is why I find hiking mountains such an incredible experience because they represent everything in life that you can let dominate you if you are a weak person. There's only one way to reach the top - one foot in front of another - and mountains are a great equalizer. It doesn't matter who you are or where you come from, if you want to stand at the top you have to work for that privilege...and what a privilege it is.