February 15, 2020

Weekend Recap: Zach’s Cabin Birthday Tradition

This weekend kicked off pretty late, as I was at my company’s Advisory Leadership conference in San Diego Wednesday through Friday, and didn’t get home until 6:30 p.m. on Friday. Unfortunately, due to some delayed flights, that meant I was late for dinner with my friends Chris and Mark. Plus, although it had been sunny and beautiful in San Diego (enough where I got to go yachting with some coworkers!), I landed in Denver to find a snowy mess that made for a slow and arduous drive home 🙁

I raced into Gordon Biersch feeling terrible I had made everyone wait for me, but Chris assured me they had only ordered 5 minutes before, and I quickly ordered and settled in. It had been a while since I had been to dinner with Chris and Mark and their kids, and I was really thrilled I didn’t have to cancel!

We had a great time catching up, and while I had originally thought I would drive to Minturn as soon as I got in on Friday, I was really glad I had chosen to meet them for dinner instead. Due to the storm (which was even worse in the mountains), CDOT closed I-70, and I was grateful to not be halfway out there and having to either turn around or wait hours for them to lift the closure. It seemed like a much better idea to skip that craziness and just go up on Saturday.

I could have gone up super early Saturday morning, in order to get a ski day in… but I knew that’s what most of Denver would be doing, and that the roads would be packed. I decided I’d rather sleep late, relax at home for a little while, and go up in the afternoon when traffic would have hopefully died down. That plan worked like a charm!

Starting with… more than ten hours of sleep catch up.

I didn’t set my alarm till 8am, and after that longest night of sleep I’d had in a while, I didn’t have time to get a workout in first thing. Instead, I took care of some errands first thing in the morning, had my friend Heather over for coffee and catch up, and then got in a quick 30 minute Peloton ride before showering, packing up, and heading out. My only regret was that my workout hadn’t been longer, and that I had done a run instead of a bike. However, my calves were surprisingly sore from the short run I had done the day before (first time I’ve had this kind of tightness in a while!), so I wanted to baby them.

Although I didn’t leave home until 2:00 p.m., traffic still wasn’t clear from all the shutdowns over the last 24 hours. I hit an extra half hour of backup coming up to the Tunnel, and that standstill made me pretty nervous about what time I’d finally make it to Vail. I had big plans that night for my friend Kirk’s birthday, and with our reservation at 5:30, I knew I’d be cutting it close! Luckily, the traffic subsided, and I ended up pulling up to the Ritz at 5:00 p.m. I hadn’t had time to stop back at my house to drop off my stuff, but at least I had made it!

Last year, a big group of us made a reservation at Zach’s Cabin to celebrate several birthdays. Zach’s is a large cabin that is right on Beaver Creek mountain (i.e., on the mountain, not at the base), with amazing gourmet food, and only reachable via snowcat pulling a sleigh. We had a wonderful time last year, so when Heather told me they were doing it again, I jumped at the opportunity!

This year, our group was much smaller: Heather and Kirk, their friends Laura and Evie (visiting from Atlanta), and me.

As I mentioned, the only way to get to Zach’s Cabin is on a sleigh pulled by a snowcat. Our reservation was at 5:30pm, which we originally thought was too early to be ideal. But then we realized that meant our ride up the mountain would be right at sunset – and now we want to reserve this time every year!

Up the mountain we go…
Look at that stunning sky!
I meant to head out to the porch and get some more sunset shots from there, but got too distracted by the delicious food and wine 🙂

Dinner was absolutely divine. I was a little worried that I had hyped up how good the food was, and that it would be a disappointment this year, but it was truly wonderful. I started with appetizer of ricotta cavatelli with slow roasted suckling pig, green apple, and cherry balsamic glaze…

I firmly believe you can never go wrong with pasta, and this appetizer certainly proved that true.

Then enjoyed an entree of smoked Colorado lamb loin with lamb ravioli and roasted cauliflower…

Aren’t these colors just stunning? I also desperately wanted to lick my plate clean of this sauce, but refrained 😉

And we closed with four desserts for the table to share:

Two each of the apple fritters and chocolate pudding cake! I may have had more of my share of the fritters… yum.

The snowcats back down to Bachelor Gulch leave every fifteen minutes, and once we had paid, a concierge came by periodically to let us know when the new shuttle would be heading out. But unlike our night at Trapper’s Cabin, our server encouraged us to stick around as long as we wanted to. It was nice to not be hurried out! But we finally headed back down the mountain, thrilled with how the night had gone, and vowing that we’d make this our annual tradition. Zach’s Cabin isn’t cheap, by any means, but it’s an amazing experience!

At the end of the red carpet, our chariot awaits! I love the snowcat ride down in the dark, which is always magical.

And when we got back to the Ritz, I decided to hang out in the lounge for a while to listen to the guitarist playing cover songs before I headed home in the snow.

Good music, a roaring fire… the perfect relaxing end to the evening 🙂

The next morning, I woke up far too early (ughhhh insomnia strikes again), but then got so caught up in work that I ended up not making it to the mountain till 10am anyway. That was okay, as I wasn’t meeting my friend Kevin till 11am, but I had hoped to get more than one run in before I met him! Unfortunately, while there was a ridiculous amount of fresh powder (yay!), I was skiing really poorly, and couldn’t figure out why (boo!). It felt like my ankles were really weak for some reason, and I kept slipping when I turned. When I met up with Kevin and shared my observation, he pointed out that my skis were really narrow for the heavy powder, and I realized it’s probably finally time for me to get multiple pairs of skis for different conditions.

View from the lift with fat flakes falling

Kevin had to cut out early, and after finishing all the Birds of Prey runs I did the same, figuring I’d get a jump start on both the traffic going back to Denver and the storm rolling in. Unfortunately, while I beat the latter, I didn’t actually get on the road as quickly as I wanted, so I hit a huge backup by the tunnel, and it took me three hours to get home from Minturn. Yuck!

I stopped at the grocery on my way home for a few missing ingredients, then commenced cooking Rachael Ray’s black bean stoup as soon as I got home – a recipe I’ve made a hundred times and had been craving all day. It didn’t disappoint! And while I ate, I browsed Facebook Marketplace…

…and ended up finding a pair of powder skis in my size, in a cute design, just a few miles away. I called the seller to get more details on them and negotiate the price, and ended up driving to her house an hour later to buy them for only $175 total. What a steal!! I can’t wait to try these out when the next big storm rolls in.

I was looking for function over fashion, but I LOVE the way these look, too!

Which… will hopefully be all this week?! Fingers crossed that the storm extends to Friday, so I can put my new skis to the test Saturday! Only two more weeks till the Talons Challenge at Beaver Creek, and I’m excited to see what I’ll be able to do.


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