Friday, March 27, 2009

Another Foot of Snow!

This was the webcam shot at Powderhorn ski resort this morning. It is an unparalled beautiful day up there! No fair that I am stuck at work! They've gotten 30 inches of snow this week according to the Powderhorn website. The BF is headed up there today to do some fabulous powder skiing--since I haven't quite mastered that yet I'm okay with just wishing I was there.

If you've never been up to Powderhorn let me just say it's a great little local ski resort! The instructors there are awesome and I can say that with certainty since I've taken classes there as have friends of mine and their children. There are 3 lifts--not including the very tame moving-sidewalk-like-lift called the "Magic Carpet." It's for beginners to practice and isn't even a lift at all...ANYWAY...the Take 4 is the main quad lift which leads you up to top of the mountain to blue and black runs. It has a midway stop as well. From the top of the quad you can head right to Equalizer (black) or Bill's or Maverick (blue). Bill's and Maverick are the main blue runs on this side of the mountain and they will lead you to others like Lower Equalizer, Dude, Whistle Pig, Looky-Looky and Lower Snowcloud. Taking Maverick over to Lower Snowcloud is the best way to get to the WEST END!

Going right off the quad lift takes you to other black runs like Yoo-Hoo, ShowDown, Wonderbump, Racer's Edge...

The West End has a 2 person lift and is home to a lot of black runs and a few steep blues. Tenderfoot is a blue run that will get you back over to the lodge and main lift, but it requires quite the cat walk to get to it! The other way to get back to the lodge from the west end is to go down Upper Snowcloud. It's a black run, but when it's groomed it's pretty sweet. I hate moguls myself so I stay away from it when it's NOT groomed...about 2/3 of the way down you'll be cruising and see up and to the right the sign for where you turned off to get to the west end in the first place. Head up that way and back down Lower Dude to the main lift area if you want. Otherwise, keep left and head back to the west end lift!

Red Eye is the other blue on the West End and it's pretty darn steep for a blue! Challenging, but fun if you can make it down without falling! There's a lot of tree skiing to be had over here plus some fun places to just play around and jump.

Powderhorn offers condos and such for overnight stays, a Sunday worship service at the top of the beginner/green run lift (easy rider) and great food at both the Wildwood Restaurant and the lodge bar/grill. It's a great little resort!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Where I"d Rather Be

Oh I'm in a snit today. I don't know why. Well, possibly because it's cloudy and cold and gross outside and I want warm summer weather! Here's one of the many places I'd rather be...Avalanche Lake...or at least on the Avalanche Creek trail headed up to the lake...and that's saying a lot because in the last 2.5 miles you gain about 2000 feet! Switchbacks...but it's worth it because look at the view!

To get there, head up to Carbondale to the Avalanche Creek Campgrounds. The trail head is there and then you just follow the signs for 11 miles up and up and up. There's some good camping around mile 6...a nice big meadow and a shady tree area near the creek.

Often there are a lot of people at the's best to get there as early in the day as possible. We ended up with a tiny campsite at the very head of the lake but it turned out to be worth it because we had a great little kitchen area and no one near us!

Here's a link to's description of the trail and directions.
This is the meadow we camped in the first night...there was better camping just up the trail past the grove of aspen trees...but we managed!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sunday at Lunch Loop

Until I find a better map, the one will have to do!
I hike out at Lunch Loop (Tabaguache) about 4 times a week. Until this weekend I had only biked there once. It's super technical and I felt it was over my head. This weekend I decided to try again. As John says, "You can ride anything as long as you're willing to walk some." So I was willing. Being familiar with the area, I felt a little better. We headed up the main trail west/southwest from the parking lot, and soon turned right onto Eagle's Tail. This soon makes a Y so you can head up Pet-Y-Kes. I've seen people go UP Eagle's Tail, but it doesn't look like much fun. This is a shot from about half way up Pet-Y-Kes looking back. It's single track and a little exposed, but there aren't many obstacles.

From here we headed over to Lemon Squeezer. You keep going down Pet-Y-Kes, take a right where the first "main trail" sign is. At the next junction, take a left. You'll end up at the base of Widowmaker Hill and you'll take the first left down a nice rolling single track for a few minutes. Then you'll get here:
From here the trail has some little ups and downs and takes you up onto the ridge above the canyon and parking lot.
There are a few hike-a-bike sections (or for me there were). This was not one of them :) Once on the ridge it's a super nice ride across and then down one rocky section before you come to a trail sign and junction. Take the right fork and head out Miramonte. This rolls you right along across another ridge, down some easy drops and then down into Miramonte Canyon. It's a nice pedal with the worst part being the sandy descent into the canyon itself. From here it's back up (you'll come to a fork and you can actually go either way. Left takes you back up to the ridge you came down and back down the main trail. This is what we did. If you go right, you come out further east on the original ridge and can go down some steep switchbacks--Kurt's Lane)
Even though I'm only a decent intermediate rider, I found this to be an awesome ride. You don't learn by only playing on the easy trails. You have to get out there and test yourself!
Here are some shots from Miramonte Canyon.

Looong dusty saturday ride

Saturday was beautiful. 70 degrees, sunny, not too we headed out to 18 Road in Fruita to try out Chutes and Ladders. This is the map the guys over at GJ Mountain Biking show. You can see Chutes and Ladders branching off of Prime Cut.

Prime Cut starts right across from the first parking lot. The lot itself is quite obvious. Right across the road you shoot down a hill and take a left to head up Prime Cut. Bear right at the Y junction. Left will take you up and across the road to Joe's Ridge. Follow the trail through the whoop-de-woos and watch out for the big ass boulder! After about 2.5 miles you come to a nice resting spot and another Y. To the left is the remainder of Prime Cut. This is a great way to go if you just want about an hour's ride. Go left, head across the road (angle left to the singletrack) and head down Kessel Run. Take a left back up the hill at the end and have a beer.

We went right at the Y. Right takes you up, up up. John was able to ride about half of the first three "ladders" but I walked it. Following this there's one more hill and then some nasty switchbacks...a few more hills...and I know, you're thinking, "This does NOT sound fun..." BUT soon it gets fun with a lot of super narrow single track, some ups and downs and finally...about a 2.5 mile bomb through a meadow filled with cows!

To be honest, some people don't like Chutes and Ladders. The "chutes" can sometimes be rutted from the cows walking down the trail in the rain or when it's wet. The ladders are quite dusty. But for me, I love the rolling downhill and I love Prime Cut, so I think that one mile of hell is worth it.