Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Week's End

Friday morning we decided to go on a short hike...hah! We walked to the back of the lodge's property onto the Betasso Preserve. We followed game paths up to the loop trail which as about 3 miles. It was a fun hike, but it wasn't a quick one. After three hours we finally were able to navigate our way back to the lodge. Those deer really need to mark their trails a bit better, let me tell you!

For lunch it was off to one of Boulder's main tourist attractions: The Dashanbe Tea House. Not only was it absolutely gorgeous, but we got to sit at a cool table where we needed to take off our shoes and sit cross-legged and the food was outstanding! This is definitely one of our new Boulder favorites. After dessert it was off to the movies to see In Bruges. We loved it!

Before heading back to the lodge for a quiet evening, we browsed the shops of Pearl Street and stopped in the chocolate and wine bar for some goodies.

On Saturday Laurel started the morning off with a run while Dan adjusted our flight and car rental plans. Before heading to the Denver Airport we hit Chatauqua Park for a quick hike at the base of the Flatirons. They were still awe-inspiring even after tackling one this summer. Our flight was uneventful and we arrived in Boston to lots of snow on the ground (and the car).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hiking in Eldorado State Park


We tried hiking the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail but it was too icy. We stayed on the Fowler Trail instead and kept going when it ended. Check out our path. We saw a train and an aqueduct on Eldorado Mountain. Saw some deer along the way too.

Dinner tonight was at Tandoori Grill, then we walked over to Neptune to hear Evan Ravitz talk about a gigante canyon in Mexico.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Thankfully, Dan was feeling better today so we got to ski in true alpine country. After a morning swim and a dip in the outdoor hot tub (What is it with outdoor hot tubs? I just don't get it.) we headed back up to Monarch Pass to ski. Now, the Pass is at nearly 11,000ft and can be treacherous to drive through. The mountain goes up from the Pass to 12,000ft. Fortunately, the weather was good this morning and actually quite warm--perfect for skiing.

Typically Monarch sees 350" of snow annually. We were told by several locals that they've already seen twice as much as normal for this time of year. There are no snow making machines and packed powder everywhere. Dan was skiing through the trees and making his own trails. However, the coolest part about this mountain was that the top of it, reached by the Panorama Lift, was on the Continental Divide. The views were breathtaking. We skied for almost 5 hours before we decided to call it quits.

Then we were back on the road, headed for Boulder. The drive took over three hours through more beautiful terrain. We checked into the Boulder Mountain Lodge and were assigned to the same room we stayed in this summer! Quelle coincidence! For dinner we went into town and tried Cafe Gondolier for homemade spaghetti and thin crust pizza. Tomorrow is Dan's pick for grub...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hip, hip, Ouray!


Day two of our ice climbing adventure started a little later this morning. We met Melanie and Ryan for a leisurely breakfast and then headed out for the ice park. Today we stuck to moderate, but long, climbs at the School House section and then below the lower bridge. The climbs were all a good 100 feet, my guess would be WI4 or so. We climbed until we couldn't climb any more and returned the gear around 3:30.

This picture shows the last two climbs we did (where the rope is and the climb to the left):

Back on the road we saw some amazing landscapes with the sun setting on the snow and the full moon lighting the white mountainsides. We finally got into Monarch at around 7:00. The Monarch Pass is the highest point on highway 50 at over 11,000ft. On the way out Sunday there was a veritable snow storm as we drove through. Tonight, though, it was clear and much easier to drive. We're saying at the Monarch Mountain Lodge and hope to get some swimming and skiing (downhill) in tomorrow based on how Dan feels. Poor guy is still fighting bronchitis and a wicked head cold.

We will post more pictures when we get a better wireless connection!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ice climbing in Ouray!


Yeah. Laurel talked me into it :)

So here's the story (for those who care to read it....)
So, we’re back! Colorado sure looks different in the snow (the parts that have snow, that is.) We flew into the Springs late Saturday night and stayed with Melanie and Ryan. Laurel went running in Pinon Park Sunday morning with Pike’s Peak in the background. Dan was sick when we left Saturday, so he spent Sunday morning in bed.

After some TheraFlu, we hit the road west for Ouray. Though it snowed in the Springs Sunday morning, the first half of the drive was dry and the evergreen-spotted hills and valleys looked the same as they did in August. However, once we got up to Monarch Pass (11,000 feet) the scenery changed drastically. Everything leading up to the pass and just about everything (150 miles) past the pass were drenched in white, fluffy snow. The draw to snowshoe or ski or even sled was unbelievable. For hours it looked as though we were driving through a postcard.

We stopped in Gunnison for some lunch at “The Bean.” A fun cafĂ© that we visited in August en route to Leadville and Mount Elbert. We arrived in Ouray at about 5:00 and walked around the very cute, old West-type Main Street. Ouray has a population of 600 people and is surrounded by mountains. Apparently, it is very popular in the summer with tourists and the winter it is a haven to ice climbers. The best place in town is a chocolate shop called Mouse’s. We’ve sampled a number of their tasty items! Dinner was at a bakery with Ryan and Melanie and some open-mic performers.


Ice climbing, here we come!

After a quick breakfast we met our guide, Kevin, at the San Juan Mountain Guides office on Main Street. Dan was complaining about how early 7:30 was. We got fit for boots, crampons, and ice axes and headed to the ice park. Ouray Ice Park is a not-for-profit outdoor ice climbing gym. Almost all the routes are bolted for top ropes and the ice is farmed every day. That’s right, ice farmers. There are people who have re-routed part of the river that goes through town and are able to open valves above each climb to create the ice. The ice is farmed almost every afternoon around 4:00 to create optimal conditions.

Kevin showed us the basics of ice climbing and set up a number of climbs. We started on what’s called WI3 (water ice 3, or say a 5.6 in rock climbing terms—beginner stuff). It was cold in the canyon in the morning but when the sun hit us, the temperature easily rose 15-20 degrees and warm us right up. We progressed to WI4s and moved into another part of the South Park region of the park. Laurel got to climb a mixed climb which means ice and rock in one route. The ice axe fits in rock crevices and offers amazing leverage, even with crampons attached to one’s boots.

At the end of the afternoon Kevin put us on a WI4+ and then Laurel successfully, but not cleanly, ascended a WI5 (5.10 equivalent) that had a number of overhanging sections. On the way out, we ran into Malcolm Daly (owner of Trango) before hitting the road. When we got back to the hotel we were brave enough to venture to the outdoor hot tubs for a dip. Crazy Dan ran barefoot back to the room when we were done.

Dinner with Melanie and Ryan was at an Irish Pub and then Mouse’s, of course! On the way back to the Vic we saw two deer on the sidewalk right in town. Then, they actually followed the cross walk signs and crossed the road at the crosswalk! What smart deer! It was an early night for all four of us.