Our winter activities really kicked into high gear when we traveled to Idaho to visit Stella’s parents in Challis, Idaho over the Christmas (2016) holiday. I am certain that there are many beautiful places across this great country, but I believe that it is difficult to beat the awe of the Sawtooth mountain range. On that trip, we did little snowshoeing near her parent’s property. Plus, we had hoped to snowshoe Galena Peak, which rises dramatically from the Big Wood River Valley, but the weather did not cooperate. However, all was not lost because we stumbled upon a wonderful cafe, the Stanley Sluice, where we enjoyed a fantastic lunch.
Closer to home, we traveled to Eldora Ski Area just outside of Nederland to explore their cross country ski trails. I had somewhat expected the trails to be a bit more laborous when compared to the flat trails we were accustomed to back in Wisconsin. I did not mind the varying terrain; however, Stella was very frustrated, and much prefers to stride and glide across flat terrain endlessly. Once we had finished skiing, we headed back into the town of Nederland where we enjoyed a wood-fired pizza at Crosscut Pizzeria & Taphouse. Hands down, this is the best pizza we have had in Colorado!!!
For the remaining snowy weekends, we snowshoed all over the Grand County area and one trek in the Breckenridge area. On the treks throughout Grand County, we snowshoed along the Colorado River, the Grand Lake Nordic Center in Arapahoe Forest, ventured around Monarch Lake several times and along the Jim Creek Trail. The Jim Creek Trail offered a variety of challenges as we made our way through several of the alpine valleys during our climb. And, on all of our snowshoe treks, our little mountain girl, Aspen was always with us! No matter the obstacles, no matter how steep, no matter how deep, she plowed along with vigor!!! I think that was the best winter of her life.
We also had the wonderful opportunity to spend a day snowmobiling in Grand Lake through the Arapahoe National forest – what fun! That was my (Larry) first experience on a snowmobile. Stella, however, had ridden on snowmobiles in her youth. Yet, she truly surprised me that day. She was doing jumps and flying all over the place! I told her to be careful, but she insisted upon continuing to go off trail & finding jumps.
Of the numerous snowshoe treks that we embarked upon, there will always be one that stands out in our minds. On that particular day, it was our second day (in a row) that we chose to snowshoe around Monarch Lake. Here are the highlights of that interesting day: 7-mile trek; close and potentially aggressive encounter with a juvenile male elk protecting his herd of 40+ females; close encounter and constant, careful dodging of a female moose with her calf; trekking through snowdrifts past our knees to dodge the moose; it was starting to get dark and very cold; Aspen was getting tired. Put all of those pieces together and you might get a glimpse of the big picture…..
Memorial Day weekend was the official kick-off for our summer! For the next 5 months, we would spend nearly every glorious weekend at Base Camp. One of the things we enjoy is driving into Rocky Mountain National Park. Stella likes to look at the growing baby trees, and we both like to look for signs of wildlife. As we drove up the road to Milner’s Pass, there was still a TON of snow; we wished that we would’ve brought our snowshoes… snowshoeing on Memorial Day weekend – who would’ve thought?
One of the first things we noticed upon opening up our camper, nicknamed “Silver,” is the presence of a beautiful red/silver fox. He spent a great deal of time in our campground for several months, and then vanished. There also was a baby moose born nearby, which we had the pleasure of watching grow up on into the fall.
This was our second summer/season spent at Grand Lake, and we embarked upon several new adventures: visiting the historic Holzworth site inside of the park; hiking into the Never Summer Wilderness; hiking Granite Falls inside the park; summiting Shadow Mountain; kayaking lake Granby from the Quinette Point to just shy of Arapaho Bay Campground and to the headwaters of the Colorado River from Stillwater boat Launch; kayaking Willow Creek Reservoir and as far as we were able into Willow Creek Creek.
The highlight of the summer was our journey north to Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Red Fish Lake, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, and Stanley, Idaho. We spent our time in Jackson hiking around Jenny Lake via Inspiration Falls, kayaked Jackson Lake and did a little mountain biking from Jackson to Moose Junction and to Teton Village. We travelled through Yellowstone National Park with a stop at Old Faithful before continuing our journey into Idaho. After a brief stop at the ranch in Challis, we journeyed south to Redfish Lake. After attempting to kayak the lake last year, we successfully paddled the lake, twice over, two days in a row. We also did a fantastic hike up to Bench Lakes, above Redfish Lake, and did some biking around the Redfish Lake campground.
We traveled back to Nederland and the hiked to Lost Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness with Aspen in tow, she loved every mile trekked. Additionally, a friend and I made an attempt to bag a 14’er or two by climbing Grays and Torrey’s Peak. However the weather thwarted our efforts but the hike to the trailhead was awesome.
Find your base camp… find your adventure…