During previous “Out West” adventures, (Grand Canyon and Mt. St. Helens), we connected-up with another couple Scott and Mary, who happen to live in Silverthorne, Colorado. Under the philosophy that “no authentic invite shall go unfilled”, we arranged a week trip to visit them during the Colorado winter! On Thursday, January 11th, we flew to Denver, where we rented a car and drove the 90 minutes up the mountains, through the Eisenhower Tunnel, to their house in Silverthorne. Scott and Mary have a beautiful 3-story log cabin, at 9000’ altitude, high on the side of a mountain in the Williams Fork Range, overlooking the Blue River Valley and the town of Silverthorne. The house is built on the 1.7 billion-year-old, thrusted Dakota meta-sediments, and we spent the first afternoon marveling at the views from their house of the Gore Range, with stands of Lodgepole Pine trees visited by ospreys, bald eagles, ravens, magpies and red-tailed hawks. Scott and Mary told us about their personal sightings and local encounters with foxes, brown bears, elk, deer and mountain lions! That night, we watched the sun set behind the mountains across the valley while we ate lasagna & salad and sipped nightcaps in front of the stone fireplace.
Thursday night, a light snow fell, and we awoke Friday morning to continued flurries and a new, white blanket covering the hillsides. After a leisurely breakfast, we set off on a gentle hike 800ft up to the top of Scott and Mary’s community, admiring the views and uniquely-constructed houses along the way. That afternoon, we headed into Frisco where we had appetizers and drinks at the Outer Range Brewing Company – a busy local brewery frequented by locals and their families, which had a style reminiscent of old English Pubs. From there, we went to the Pioneer Ski Shop to pick up Roc’s ski equipment for Saturday, and then went to the Red Mountain Grill in Silverthorne for dinner. It was then, while observing the crowd that we had realized that we had forgotten that this was a Holiday Weekend, since Monday would be MLK Day! After an excellent salmon dinner, we headed back to welcome Bill and Sandy, friends of Scott and Mary from Denver, who came up for the night to ski with us on Saturday. We all drank wine, and then socialized until we finally called it a night and went to bed content.
Saturday morning, we were up, had breakfast and coffee, and then the “boys” set off for Keystone Ski Resort “Foursquare” area, for a day of downhill skiing. Scott and Mary also own a rental condo across from the lifts at Keystone and can therefore use their condo’s parking garage to stage for skiing. After dressing, we three headed to the lift-ticket office so that Rocky could get a “Buddy Pass” lift ticket, (which, unfortunately took almost an hour), and then proceeded together to the “River Run Gondola” up to the start of “School Marm Run” – a 3.5-mile long “green” run, 2040’ down from the 11.640’ start. Since Rocky had not been skiing for nearly 40 years, Scott and Bill kept a watchful eye on him, but the old skills slowly returned, and Rocky executed a careful, but successful, run down the mountain. While the boys were skiing, the women made their way to the ski route’s finish and greeted the boys when they arrived from their first run. After that, the women, Mary, Sandy and Julie, checked out the Keystone villages and shops, of which Julie particularly liked the Gorsuch Shop which had unique gifts and interesting lines of clothing. After shopping, the girls headed to the bar for drinks and snacks, and to wait for the boys. Meanwhile, Scott, Bill and Rocky made there way back up the hill on the “Summit Express Chair Lift” to the top again, where they stopped for a quick beer at the Summit House Food Court, before again skiing “School Marm Run” – this time much faster and with fewer rest stops along the way. With 2 runs under his wings, Rocky called the day “finished” while Bill and Scott headed up for one final run of the day. All finally assembled with the girls for final drinks, before we headed back to Frisco to drop off Rocky’s skis, and then back to Scott and Mary’s for a few rounds of cosmopolitans, and a fantastic dinner of grilled steak and buffet potatoes, with rum cake for dessert. After dinner, Bill and Sandy needed to head back to Denver, and so, after goodbyes, the rest of us collected our wineglasses, and moved out onto the patio in 15-degree weather for a soak in the hot tub, while looking for satellites and watching the stars above. Once completely relaxed, we exited the tub, gathered in front of the fireplace before finally heading off to bed.
Sunday, after breakfast, we headed out to the Breckenridge Nordic Center. It was a beautiful sunny day, and for very little cost, we equipped ourselves with snowshoes and boots, and began our “hike” along the “Red Trail”. The snowshoeing trail wound its way through the valley floor and up into the mountain-side’s trees, before we veered-off onto the “Yellow Trail” that took us up and under Breckenridge’s gondola. From there, we headed back down through the snow-strewn trees and beside moose meadow before returning to the Nordic Center – a fun-filled, 2-hour hiking adventure! From there, we headed to the gondola to ride up and visit Breckenridge’s Peaks 7 & 8, where the Holiday Weekend and recent snow had generated considerable crowds. We stopped for drinks and appetizers in a local restaurant, before heading back to the car, and back to Scott and Mary’s to get ready to go out to dinner. Tonight, we had planned to meet and have dinner with Nancy, the acting Society of Exploration Geophysicists President, who was planning to drive down from Denver. We met at Uptown’s in Frisco, where Nancy’s daughter, Haley, also joined us. Dinner was spent with excellent food and lively discussions of nursing and geophysics.
Monday morning, we took a leisurely approach to breakfast, before Julie and Rocky bundled up and put on Scott and Mary’s snowshoes, and went out for a hike around their countryside. We hiked through the adjacent woods down to near the valley floor, before returning in a roundabout way over an hour later. After a quick warm-me-up, we took out our rental car for a bit of a drive-about, and to give it a “warm up.” We drove through some of the local neighborhoods and around the growing condominium and townhouse communities. The rest of that afternoon was spent lazily before a dinner of grilled salmon and veggies. Again, we spent part of the cold, crisp evening in the hot tub with our wine, and searching for satellites in the heavens above – (Julie says she saw one!)
Tuesday morning was spent packing our belongings, before the 4 of us went outside for a 2-hr. walk along the roads, into some of the newly developing communities nearby – Hamilton Creek & Angler Mountain Subdivisions! Along the way, in addition to the majestic views, we sighted a falcon, and 3 deer! After saying our heartfelt “Thank You’s” and goodbyes, we headed off to get a hotel in Denver for one night, to be better prepared for our very early morning flight back to Florida. Along the way, we passed the ever-present Buffalo Herd – our classic reminder of the whirlwind adventure we just had.