Recap of January 4 and 5
My weekend started off busy on the Front Range, as I hosted the First Friday coffee chat with residents of my town, and then moved on to a ton of work for my regular job. But after stopping by a sick friend’s house to drop off a pot of this lemon rice and chicken soup (soooo amazing! Can’t recommend this recipe enough as comfort food that still really healthy), I headed out to Minturn for my first full weekend in the mountains.
I got to the house around 6:30pm, and after dashing off a few more work emails, headed out to Edwards where was I was meeting friends for dinner. My friends Heather and Kirk bought a place in Eagle County two years ago, and they were the driving factors pushing me to look at the Vail area rather than Breckenridge (my original plan)- they even recommended their realtor, who turned out to be amazingly in-the-know and found me my hundred-year-old Main Street cottage before it was even on the market! I was psyched to be able to meet up with Heather and Kirk now that we both have places out here – I predict we’ll be spending a lot more time together 🙂
Heather had two friends visiting for the weekend, so the six of us enjoyed a fabulous kick off dinner at The Rose. Heather and Kirk had spent New Year’s Eve there, and after trying the food and the drinks, I kind of wished I had joined them! (Though definitely don’t regret the amazing Sounds of Simon house concert that kicked off my 2019.) I had heard that the fried chicken was fantastic, so we got that, avocado fries, and pork belly bites to share, and for my entree, I got a warming ramen bowl made with miso bone broth. Not a single dish was a disappointment, and I also loved the extensive cocktail list and unique cocktail I tried (though can’t find a drink menu online to remember what it was). I definitely want to come back here… preferably when someone else is driving so I can try more unique drinks 😉
Saturday morning, Heather and the crew were off to Copper (which is on a different ski pass), so I headed over to Vail solo. I arrived at Lionshead gondola to find that they were doing free ski demos all day, so I eagerly picked up a pair to try. I am really proud of how good I’ve gotten at skiing, but I still know nothing about equipment, so demos are a great opportunity for me to start learning what I like in a ski. I think my current skis are fine, but perhaps I will learn better!
The first pair I tried, I hated – I felt like I couldn’t turn in them, and when I tried to go over moguls, I found myself cruising laterally across them, unable to carve at the right moment to head down instead of just over. After about an hour, I took them back and exchanged them for a different pair, and these seemed much better. However, they also seemed about the same as my regular skis… so I’m sticking with those and not looking to upgrade.
On the other hand, though, the technicians told me that part of why I might be having turning issues is that my boots looked to be too big. They pointed out that the ankle of my boots was pretty large, and based on my bone structure, was probably bigger than I needed. I’ve been dreaming of getting heated boots, since my feet get so cold when I ski, so we talked for a while about the best boot fitters on the Front Range, and I left with a recommendation for Boot Mechanics in Golden – supposedly as good as the famed “Larry the bootfitter” in Boulder, but more organized / Type A. I like that!
With my new demo skis, I headed for the Back Bowls – a place I had never before this season had the confidence to explore. But now, I’m loving it, and learning my way around Sun Down and Sun Up Bowls! (I have yet to venture over to Tea Cup, Mongolia, or Blue Sky Basin.) I ended up trying to take runs down each one of the trails in Sun Down Bowl (even though in a bowl it’s hard to tell where one trail stops and another begins), and doing pretty well until I found myself on Windows. Windows is a trail I had always seen signs for on the front side of the mountain, but never explored, since it’s a black diamond and I was scared. Going down that made me feel like I “made it” as a skier! 🙂
But as confident as I was feeling, I soon ran into trouble. The top of Windows was pretty bumpy, and I did fine with the moguls. But as it funnelled down, there was a gully on the right (downhill) side, and as I neared the bottom, I discovered that there was a giant patch of dirt / rocks with just a few sporadic patches of snow running through it. Too low on the hill to really avoid it, I followed a set of tracks that led into a tree stand just above it, hoping I could continue cruising sideways past the dirt patch… only to discover a cliff on the other side of the tree stand! Yikes.
I stood in the tree stand for several minutes trying to figure out what to do. Below me, I could see a skier climbing out of the gully after a fall, and I didn’t want that to be me! With very few options, I visually mapped my path through the dirt patch (“Okay, if I turn there and then take a quick right there, I can maybe stay in the snow?”), and even started skiing down through the trees toward it, only to freak out and grab onto a tree to stop me, knowing I was out of my depth. Finally, I side stepped down the steep slope until I got to the magical spot where the cliff ended but the dirt / rock patch hadn’t yet begun, and blessedly skied my way out and away from the gully. Phew! I was breathing hard after that scare, and ended up commiserating with a snowboarder who had bravely navigated the dirt patch and made it through unscathed. Both of us agreed we would never do Windows again 🙂 I skied some easier stuff after that, then called it a day.
While I had originally been planning to finally stick around Vail for the apres scene (which I still haven’t hit this year!), I instead decided to head home and shower, then go for a drink at one of the local bars in Minturn. But Heather texted me and tried to convince me to instead come to Eagle Brewing Company, which was on the same street as my house, just 3 miles down the road in Eagle. Although I had been looking forward to a night by myself (and catching up on emails after apres), I agreed to go… but then took so long showering and getting over there that I didn’t arrive till everyone was leaving! Oops.
Not to worry, though, because Heather and the gang had other ideas. They were going back to Heather and Kirk’s condo to cook dinner, and insisted that I join them for that. This was a bit of a harder sell, but I finally agreed – and am so glad I did!
I had a fabulous night eating amazing food (thanks for the delicious cooking, Heather and Kirk!), trying some phenomenal wine, and enjoying a game night… featuring Skip Bo, which I hadn’t played since I was a kid!
I woke up Sunday morning to a ton of snow falling – yippee! I took my time getting ready in the morning, knocking out a bunch of work and emails, and finally headed to the mountain around 10am. This time, though, I went to Beaver Creek rather than Vail. Beaver Creek was my favorite mountain last season, but this season I hadn’t been there yet!
Heather and Kirk had told me about some secret free parking, and it turned out to be pretty easy to then catch the bus to Beaver Creek Village. Up through December, I have been pretty guilty of splurging on parking at various resorts; I’m trying to now turn over a new leaf and save that money for other things. (Like a steam shower for my bathroom in the mountain house – would be amazing after a long day of skiing!) I was on the mountain by 11am, and while the fresh powder was really nice, the visibility was pretty low and the humidity made it feel really cold, so I wasn’t loving it. I know – can’t make me happy! I set a goal of skiing 10,000 feet, and figured I’d get off the mountain shortly thereafter.
But while I was grabbing a quick hot cocoa in the lodge to warm up, I got a text from Heather and Kirk that they were at Beaver Creek, and over on the lift line I had been planning to ski next! I headed over to meet them, and ended up following them on some (relatively easy) adventures in the trees. This is the first year I’ve done any tree skiing, and I’m actually kind of liking it on occasion! I’m still learning the best technique for moguls (which I have learned are all over the place in glades), but I can get through them okay and think I don’t look like a complete idiot doing them 🙂
Finally, though, I succumbed to the cold and called it a day. But to my surprise, when I looked at my watch, I saw it was 3pm – I had been out there more than 4 hours! That was a lot longer than I anticipated, which just goes to show that with friends, you can do anything.
And speaking of which… after I headed home to shower and get warm, Kirk and Heather ended up joining me in Minturn to close out the weekend with beer and wings at Cowboy Bar. I loved this rustic spot, and can see it becoming another one of my regular haunts in Minturn! There were a lot of TVs, and while none of us had any idea what was going on, we half-watched the Golden Globes while we ate. I was pretty psyched that they had boneless wings (yes, I know that is just a fancy name for chicken fingers) – I like them better than bone-in, especially when they come in lots of yummy flavors. We all tried a few of each other’s flavors, and the winner was Heather’s mango habanero – I am definitely getting that myself next time!
While I headed to bed early on Sunday, the weekend wasn’t quite over yet, as I mixed a little bit of skiing into my Monday. I worked from 6am-8am, skied 8:30am-10:30am, then took a call from the lodge before heading down the mountain and driving home to finish working the rest of the day. It is so nice to have a place up in the mountains so that I can ski just a few hours as a workout without having to deal with the drive for that short of a period! This was my first full weekend in the mountains, and I loved every bit of it – looking forward to many more.