February 18, 2019

Weekend Recap: Mountain Retreat and Super Bowl

Recap of February 1-3

I went into this weekend super stressed out. It had been a really busy week at work, and I had a packed weekend lined up ahead. Although I had been looking forward to this weekend for a long time, I now wished I could cancel my plans and just catch up on everything I was behind on! You know you’re not in a good place when the prospect of spending a fun weekend with friends sounds stressful. But I dutifully headed out for my original plans, and am so glad that I did 🙂

My good friends Sarah and Kelli both had birthdays this weekend, and along with our friend Cat, they had rented a condo at the foothills of Beaver Creek in Avon. They all headed up Friday morning, which I couldn’t do because of work… and that was part of my stress. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get up to Avon until 8pm, and I hated being the last to arrive and feeling like I had missed everything! I considered skipping a meetup on Friday night altogether, but when I called the girls on my drive, they excitedly told me to come whenever I got in. Funny how just that bit of reassurance turned things around.

I stopped at my house long enough to drop off my things for the weekend, then immediately headed over to the condo. Sarah assured me there was pizza if I was hungry, which was nice to not have to worry about dinner before joining the group. When I got there, everyone was just wrapping up a game of Catan, so I was able to grab a piece of pizza and then settle in for some Skip-Bo, which has been one of my new favorite games to play up in the mountains. Poor Sarah accidentally drew an extra card and didn’t notice for a hand, then was able to play a really long run as a result, and we teased her mercilessly the rest of the night for “cheating” – lots of laughs all around 🙂 That was just what I needed to relax and lean into the rest of the weekend!

Saturday morning, we all agreed to meet to head to the mountain around 8:30am, and my friend Chris was driving up from Denver to join me as well. However, when Chris and I got there, the rest of the group was still in bed! So we hit the mountain ourselves in the meantime. It was a gorgeous bluebird day, which is my favorite, and the snow was pretty good too.

Larkspur Bowl always has stunning views, and Chris has a great technique for ski pics – prop the phone up against a ski pole strategically placed on the mountain above you!

After Larkspur, Chris and I ended up hanging out for a while on Grouse Mountain, which is all expert terrain. However, instead of being scared, I was loving it, and begging to go down the mogul runs again and again! My skiing has really improved this year.

I loved this sunny run down Screech Owl on the side of Grouse – so fun!

But the big test came when we took the Birds of Prey lift up, and Chris convinced me to check out Golden Eagle – one of the steepest runs on the mountain, and home of the men’s super-G slalom course in the 1999 and 2015 World championships. We had to traverse a catwalk to get there, and on the way, I was looking to Chris for reassurance… but he was too much of a jokester to tell it to me straight, and instead terrified with me, “I mean, you might die, but it’ll be fun.” Not what I want to hear!

I was pretty nervous up until I got to the face, and saw… it really wasn’t that much steeper than other stuff I had skied. I still took it easy, making big wide turns as I went down, but by the time I got to the bottom, I was grinning ear-to-ear. “Can we do it again?!” I exclaimed. We did Golden Eagle once more, then headed up to the Red Buffalo area to meet my friends for some easier runs.

All smiles the second time!

After skiing, I headed home to Minturn for a quick shower, then went back to Avon. Kelli had made a reservation for all of us at Zach’s Cabin, an exclusive on-mountain dining option where you get to take a snowcat ride up to the restaurant from Bachelor Gulch! We met at the Ritz for a drink beforehand, and then jumped in the sleigh to head up the mountain. The resort provided warm robes for us to wear, but I used mine like a blanket and then used my scarf and coat for warmth – and it was so much fun to see the mountain from a different vantage point on the way up.

Cat and I sat right on the back of the snowcat, which made for a great pic looking back!

But as fun as the snowcat up was, the dinner itself was even more sublime. I was so impressed with the food (and the drinks), and my friends and I had a fabulous time both at dinner and also on the starry snowcat ride back down. While this was definitely pricey, it’s something I’d love to do again for a special occasion – I think it was worth every penny. Meanwhile, Heather and Kirk and I started discussing memberships to the various ski clubs up in Vail / Beaver Creek. They are similarly pricey, but could be worth it if I keep going up there as much as I have this year?? The Vail Mountain Club and Arrabelle Club have currently caught my eye…

Our night Saturday wrapped up at Sarah and Kelli’s condo, where we planned to play more games but ended up just listening to music, messing around with Sarah’s new vibrating foam roller (amazing for ski recovery!), and hanging out. Cat had made an incredibly impressive birthday cake for Sarah and Kelli that looked like a ski run, complete with a lift line and cardboard cuts of Sarah and Kelli, and it was adorable!

My cake decorating skills are nowhere near this elaborate.

While Sarah and Kelli had to get back to town on Sunday, and Cat and Mike decided not to ski after all, I still headed out for another full day at Beaver Creek along with Chris. The day started out sunny, but then a storm rolled in – bringing a lot of fresh powder, but also stealing most of the visibility. I know this is a terrible perspective for a skier, but personally, I’ll take sunny blue skies over fresh powder… I just love seeing the views too much!

In this case, though, the visibility was so low that Chris and I had to hug the treeline just to make sure we could see even a few feet in front of us. It was intense! But I was still loving every moguled bit 😉

After skiing, Chris decided to wait it out / avoid the holiday traffic, and instead stick around Minturn for the Superbowl, which I planned to hit at a local spot. While getting ready at my house, my roommates came home and told us they had the night off from work (Tyson is the executive chef at one of the resorts in Vail, and Michell is a bartender there), so we all decided to head together to Cowboy Bar down the street – and then Kirk and Heather came over to join us as well! Party in Minturn 🙂 The game itself was of course not that exciting, but it was fun to all hang out for a night, which I hadn’t had the opportunity to do with Tyson and Michell yet.

The Boulder Beer Chocolate Shake Porter was a delicious treat to enjoy during the game, even if the first one did come out a little bit foamy.

Finally, Monday morning I was able to get a bunch of calls done by 8am, then sneak out for a few turns on Vail before heading back to town. Knowing I only had an hour to ski, I quickly headed straight to the Back Bowls, and after a bit of time in Game Creek, headed over to Sun Down Bowl for a run down Forever – one of my favorite single blacks at Vail, which also is pretty close to the front side of the mountain and easy to access.

As the name implies, Forever is a pretty long run; I usually try to force myself to keep going and take breaks only when I get to the end of a song, so I’m pushing myself. Normally it probably takes me about 12 minutes (3 songs) to get down with those breaks. Today, though, I pushed it really hard, and told myself no breaks until I was all the way down. The top part of Forever is smooth but steep, but the bottom half is all moguls – and my legs were screaming by that last part! I was the only skier I could see on the run, though (hooray for weekday skiing!), and I literally yelled encouragement out loud at myself like a mantra (“don’t stop, you’ve got this!”) since there was no one around to hear what an idiot I was being. But I did it – made it all the way down to the lift without a single stop or even a slowdown to catch my breath! I was super proud of myself for that accomplishment… what a great way to wrap up the weekend feeling accomplished.

While I went into this weekend dreading the plans I had made, I felt totally silly by the end of it for feeling that way. Spending time with friends was exactly what I needed to de-stress, and this group was fabulous! I’m looking forward to more mountain weekends like this in the future.


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