Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Winter Park Ski - Jim Creek Trail

Winter Park "Springtopia" Downhill Ski
Jim Creek Trail - Winter Park
~6 Miles RT, XC Ski

This winter was a rude guest that showed up late, and then looked like it would never leave.  On a vague personal note, it felt like it also pushed us down, and gave us a few kidney punches for good measure.  But you know what?  It's almost over, I think.  For the first time in months, I feel rested and recovered mentally, so with the return of Spring, I expect and insist my energy, enthusiasm, and optimism to return as well.

The biggest part of that, metaphorically, is not fighting what you don't have, or perhaps expected -- but making the most of what you're given.  This year, we were given lots of snow, late.  So why not have some fun with it?

With that, J and I headed up to Winter Park for a quick weekend of skiing.
First up was a day of downhill on the closing weekend: $40 lift tickets.  This was only our second weekend skiing for the year, but we enjoyed some pretty great conditions for Spring, including a fresh dusting of snow each day.  The slopes were surprisingly uncrowded, so that we never had to wait in a lift line.

I also got a jog in, on the dirt roads along Elk Creek, with the sun being delightfully warm and high in the sky for a late afternoon ramble.  We didn't go to the free 4/20 Julian Marley concert, but instead chose to beat the expected rush of hungry ski bum rastafarians by heading to Hernando's Pizza Pub,  then returned to the condo to make a new wood fire in the fireplace while light snow fell:  an awesome date with my wife. 

Next day, with a fresh dusting on the ground, we clipped into our cross-country skis instead for a mellow tour up the Jim Creek trail.  This out-and-back is an easy hike or snowshoe up a moderate grade, that ends up being perfect for a worry-free ski glide on the way back down, with no real steep sections or rocks to contend with.

Starting at the "Bonfils Discovery Center" parking lot right across from the WP ski area, the trail heads into the James Peak Wilderness, in the shadow of the eponymous 13k foot mountain, making one (or at least me) wonder if "Jim" Creek is also named for famed botanist Edwin James, who may have gone by the nickname "Eddie Jim."  Or maybe not.

We only saw 3 or 4 other people, otherwise enjoying a quiet couple hours in the woods.  

Getting closer to James Peak, it was nice to "connect the dots" on the other side of the Divide, directly across from a February ski tour to Rogers Pass.  Once warmer weather arrives, I'll look to finish it up with a jog to the summit, hopefully garnering some interested company for the highly aesthetic Berthoud-Rollins Pass run.

We did fight a bit of sticky snow in some open areas, but continued upward until taking a break at an open, sunny-sloped meadow, somewhere between 2.5-3 miles in.
Returning, we had just enough speed to keep the skis free of clumping snow.

Another great day on the trails with the wife and on the skis.  But also very much ready for Spring!

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