April 13, 2019

Weekend Recap: Meandering in Vail / Beaver Creek

Weekend of April 6-7

This weekend was fairly quiet, as I canceled most of my plans to get extra “me” time instead. Selfish, I know, but I think I needed it – and I finished the weekend so happy!

Friday night after work was spent in my favorite way: with a drive up to the mountains, a little bit of cooking while I watched Sex and the City, and then a book and a glass of wine. Pure bliss! There’s something about getting away to my mountain house that’s much more relaxing than doing the same thing in Superior… I think because there are always things I could / should be doing at home, while in Vail, there are rarely chores or obligations.

Saturday morning, though, I did have an obligation… a good for me one 🙂 My friend Chelsea is opening a yoga studio in Minturn in a few weeks, and she was hosting a free flow class at Lolë in Vail Village. So after a great night’s sleep and waking up with no alarm, I grabbed my yoga mat and headed there.

Here we go!

I so rarely practice yoga, and even when I do it, I don’t love it… but I also know how good it is for me, so I don’t regret it afterward. This was the case here! Chelsea was a great teacher, and it was really lovely to have a slower Saturday morning than usual in the mountains. Usually I’m trying to hustle out the door for first chair at 8:30am, but with spring skiing conditions (icy in the morning from the melt the day before), I can take it easy and meander to the mountain around noon.

And meander I did – after class, I decided to grab a coffee and wander around Vail Village for a little while, before finally heading home to tackle some emails before skiing. After my inbox was cleared out, I found myself still wanting to stay in bed, and I surfed the internet a little aimlessly for a bit. Just like wandering Vail Village and my Friday night, it felt great to do whatever I felt like rather than feeling obligated to get something done. I absolutely love going out to the mountains for this!

But when I realized it was approaching 1pm, I realized I’d better hit the actual ski mountain or I’d miss my window of opportunity. I threw together a quick lunch, then headed out the door, pulling into Lionshead around 1:15pm. I figured I’d try to just do a few quick runs and wrap up by 3:15pm, to keep my parking under two hours and free. However, when I got onto the mountain, I realized the conditions were much better than I expected – so I wanted to just keep going and going. It was beautifully warm out, but the snow wasn’t super slushy, so I was able to just enjoy the spring skiing but also take a few pictures.

I also stopped for a tank top pic with the Vail photographer at the top of the gondola. Spring skiing at its finest!

I was taking what I thought would be my last lift ride up High Noon Express, at 3:35pm… when I saw there were still skiers coming down. And when I got to the top, I realized why – the lifties had posted a sign at the top saying that today only, Forever (the run right under the lift) would be Forever, and they were keeping it open till 4pm instead of 3:30pm! I was thrilled to get a few more turns in before closing 🙂

Thank you, lifties!!!

That morning, I had made plans to go over to my friend Heather’s house for dinner, so I stopped at the grocery to pick up ingredients for a cheese board to bring. On my way out, I texted Heather to ask what time to come over – and she said that she and her husband were having a drink at Vail Brewing, just down the road from my house! Perfect timing – I headed to join them there for a quick apres-ski beer, then popped home to shower before heading over to their house in Edwards.

Dinner at Heather and Kirk’s is always fun, and Saturday night was no exception. We totally demolished the cheese board I put together (with me responsible for a lot of that cheese… oops), and then moved onto the warm spinach salad and steaks that Kirk and Heather prepared. While often we play board games, tonight we just sat around the living room and chatted, which was lovely! The perfect low-key end to a low-key day.

Sunday morning, I got a bunch of work / emails done in the morning, then prepared to get out on the mountain sooner rather than later. Although Saturday had been lovely, I wished I had more time to ski, so didn’t want to make that mistake Sunday! I got to the mountain around 10:30am, which I figured was probably a little bit early for the snow to have really softened up, but I decided to err on the side of harder snow but getting to ski more.

So happy to be here, and the mountain was totally empty! Pure bliss 🙂

To my surprise, the front of the mountain was already pretty soft – President Ford’s was downright slushy at the bottom! So I headed up Strawberry Park and over to Larkspur, then onto Grouse Mountain – my favorite part of Beaver Creek. I was cautious at first, making sure to stay on the “flat” run rather than moguls (is flat the right word when they’re still steep black diamonds?), but my confidence grew after having a blast on Screech Owl, and I decided to go big and head for Bald Eagle – the steepest run on Grouse Mountain, which also has the biggest moguls.

Screech Owl was really lovely, but it’s always one of the softer runs on Grouse… I hoped Bald Eagle would be the same.

Before starting down the run, I stopped to chat with two older gentlemen who told me they hadn’t been down Bald Eagle yet today and were instead going to hit one of the easier runs (“easier” being relative, since Grouse is all expert terrain). I took my time at the top, knowing that there were a few points where I could bail out if I decided early enough to do so, but the bumps seemed fine – not too hard. And the sun was shining and it was just a beautiful day!

I was all alone on this trail, until I finally saw another skier about halfway down. I stopped for a break to catch my breath, and the other skier did too, so I took the opportunity to query him to see if he knew what conditions were like further down the trail. The very end of Bald Eagle is really steep and bumpy, and I was worried it would be icier down there. The guy said it was his first time on the trail today too, so he couldn’t provide any intel, but that was okay – we were both grinning ear-to-ear at the beautiful day and peacefulness of the trail.

The rest of the run ended up being fabulous – I loved every bit of it, even though it was a little harder toward the bottom. But wow, how far I’ve come – from being terrified of Bald Eagle on a good snow day, to loving it even when conditions weren’t perfect! This year has definitely been the season of moguls for me – I’m still not sure I’m doing them by-the-book properly, but I can get down them pretty fast and strong, and I absolutely love them… to the point where I haven’t yet found friends to ski with who want to do bumps as much as I do 🙂

But on that note, I got down to the lift at the same time as the guy I had chatted with on the trail. Even though there were no lines whatsoever and we could have easily grabbed our own chairs, he invited me to share a chair – and we had fun chatting more the whole way up. Both of us were skiing alone, and since we seemed to be close to the same skill level (or close – he’s definitely better than me), we decided to stick together for another run. We ended up skiing the entire day together and having a blast in the process!

While I had started skiing fairly early in the day, I was having so much fun that I didn’t call it a day until I absolutely had to – when we raced down Grouse Mountain to get to Larkspur Lift just seconds before the liftie put up the rope to close it. I was really proud of myself for getting down Grouse fast enough to make that happen – making it from top to bottom (on a mogul run) in less than five minutes. That speed definitely showed throughout the day, as my Epic Mix app told me that I closed out the day with my second highest number of vertical feet skied that season – over 32,000 feet! Not bad considering I was taking some pretty challenging bump runs all day and not just bombing down blue groomers 🙂

Although I had originally planned to head back to Denver Sunday night, I was leaving the mountain much later than expected, and I also saw there was some traffic on I-70. So instead, I decided to stick around for the night and grab dinner in Minturn with my new ski buddy. We planned to head to our respective homes to shower, then meet up for dinner at the Minturn Saloon. However, before I showered, I decided to sneak one more thing into my weekend to make it a truly phenomenal day – and headed out for a run.

Last week, I set a goal of running at least 15 miles a week. I know that’s not an impressive total, but it’s where I am right now with running, having abandoned running for skiing most of this winter. This week, I had 1.5 miles left to hit that total, and after chatting with Theodora in the car on the way back to my house, we made a pact with each other to get our miles in as soon as we hung up.

I planned to do just two miles, but ended up enjoying it so much that I couldn’t resist going further – and ended up doing a lovely four miles along the Eagle River. I was definitely a little bit slower due to the altitude, but I didn’t care about pace at all, and just focused on enjoying the views. I can’t wait to run more out here in the summer! This run made me realize that perhaps the end of ski season won’t be so bad; I always forget how much I love running 🙂

How lovely is the Eagle River at my turnaround spot for this run?! I can’t wait for a bluebird day rather than the late afternoon clouds – it’s going to be spectacular.

Finally, after my run and a shower, I closed out my weekend with a long and relaxing dinner and drinks at the Saloon. The perfect end to a really perfect weekend!


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