Colorado February 2012

Dates: February 16 - February 20, 2012

People: Mark, Denny, David


  • 2-16 (Travel Day)
  • 2-17 (Hoosier Ridge)
  • 2-18 (Mt. Elbert)
  • 2-19 (Ski Cooper)
  • 2-20 (Travel Day)


The trip began with a drive to the airport around 5 in the evening. Sarah rushed from drama at LHS to get home to turn around and grab the boys and I to head to the airport. They dropped me off a little past 5:30pm. The push through check-in and security wasn't too busy and I was on the hunt for some supper. In the weeks prior I'd been eating great and counting calories for weight loss. Tonight I just went for something filling and simple, so I grabbed McDonald's. With supper in hand I made it to the gate and sat and read on my phone for the hour or so wait til the flight boarded.

This was a great trip for reading for me. Read more on this trip than probably the several weeks previous in total. Started reading The Lost World by Michael Crichton while I sat at the gate and it brought back old memories of my first few reads of it. My flight left a little late but they said we'd make most of that time up. I got a good window seat fairly close to the front. I spent almost the entire flight reading through The Lost World and was over half finished when we arrived in Denver. My flight was still a few minutes late and I found David whose flight had come in a little early. We were both pleased to learn Dad's flight would also be a bit early.

I waited forever for my bags to arrive, which wasn't a bad thing as by the time my bags arrived Dad's flight had landed. David and I grabbed some more supper at Taco Bell in the airport while we awaited Dad's arrival at the terminal. His bags came promptly and we were off to the car rental. We felt much more comfortable renting with Alamo this time around than the disastrous Payless whom we used last year. The car rental went smoothly and we were soon on the road out of Denver.

We called ahead to Safeway in Conifer to ensure they would be open and found we had just under an hour to spare. We arrived there and the grocery was like a ghost town. Only about 2-3 other customers and a small amount of store employees all busy stocking shelves. We spent about half an hour grabbing food for our weekend and checked out. The rest of the drive out to Trout Creek Pass was fairly uneventful and we used it to plot out the weekend. With great wisdom we opted not to attempt Mt. Elbert on Friday as it would give us roughly only 3-4 hours of sleep for the night and hardly any acclimation. We arrived at the cabin at about 1am and found just a few inches of snow on the ground.


We went through the struggles last night before bed as to what to do with this day since we were not doing Elbert. With the late night we also took advantage of the ability to sleep in a little ... which meant we were up about 7:30am. Over breakfast we decided a return to Hoosier Pass would be enjoyable and relatively safe. Last year we had been there and hiked west under the slopes of North Star Mountain. This year we opted to head east onto Hoosier Ridge and to go as far as our legs would take us. We headed out from the cabin around 9am and had a great drive up to Hoosier Pass with pretty spectacular views of Lincoln and Quandary along the way.

Hoosier Ridge Trip Report

We were back to the cabin around 5pm or so. We were definitely worn out from the day's hiking. It was a bit more than we had first planned for. Supper was an enticing thought though, as those frozen pizzas from Safeway looked awfully tasty. David ended up napping for awhile though so Dad and I were left to our computers to look at pictures and tracks from the hike as well as looking at other trip reports for tomorrow's hiking.

Finally about 7pm I broke down (as in I was too hungry to wait any longer) and fired up the oven to cook pizzas. We had two large ones from Safeway and by the time everything was said and done we'd polished off both of them. David wasn't feeling so hot though through the evening so we were forced into discussing alternate plans for Saturday. Talks of another 13er came up or even just snowshoeing somewhere easy and safe. After a lack of any great, enticing options came forward, we finally opted to shoot for Elbert and see how we felt come morning.


Mt. Elbert Trip Report

We arrived back at the cabin around 5:30pm and were pleased to find we were in time to have supper with the rest of the Colorado family. Rachel cooked a great chili supper for us all tonight with a tasty variety of tortilla chips and cheese bread to go with it. It was just the carb load we needed after a long day. After supper we enjoyed a fun new game with the family called "Wits and Wagers". A question is read to the group asking for a number answer and each person in the game puts their answers on a tiny dry-erase board and places it on the game board. These answers are then placed on the game board in numerical order and the players then put two wager chips on the answers they think are closest to the true answers. We played several enjoyable games of this and relaxed the rest of the evening away watching 30Rock on the Roku box.


This morning we made plans to get a fairly early start to head for Ski Cooper. Word was the lifts started up at 9am with rentals starting just after 8am. We left the cabin about 7:15 with our three plus Uncle Bob in car to get there early for rentals. Rachel and Ryan would follow us later.

Turned out being about 8:20am when we hit Ski Cooper and it was just in time. We hopped in the lift ticket and rental line with only about a half dozen people in front of us. As we awaited the relatively slow and somewhat confused cashiers to keep the line moving another dozen and more started gathering in line behind us. We were pleased to find out they'd give a senior discount to Dad and a military discount to David (which they graciously applied to me too) which made for a very economical day of skiing.

By the time we got our rental gear in place and made it outside it was nearly 9am and we were ready for a great day of skiing ahead of us. The weather was overcast clouds with a hint of sun poking through as we got started. My fun experiment for this day was to run BackCountry Navigator on my phone wil we skiied to have a track of the day's work. I missed our first run down the mountain on the Molly Mayfield run but had it running after that. At 9am we still didn't have Rachel and Ryan and their boards out with us. It'd be after 9:30 or so when they joined us.

Here is a look at the runs we made in the morning. After starting easy, we progressively made it onto more difficult slopes, and even the beginner that I am, found it within my skills to handle the diamonds at Ski Cooper.

Ski Cooper Trails Map

  • Eagle-Lower Burnout
  • Trail's End
    • After this run we quickly realized that hopping the main "10th Mt. Chair" lift was less than ideal with all the beginners crashing at the top and slowing the lift as well as the heavier traffic. This caused us to spend much of the day on the Piney Basin Triple Chair lift.
  • Tenderfoot
  • Motherlode Flats-Lower Tenderfoot
  • Eagle
  • Nightmare (diamond)
  • Kamikaze (diamond/moguls)
  • Piney-Lower Burnout (diamond)
  • Homestake

Before we made the run on Homestake we had communicated with Bob, Rachel, and Ryan and decided to meet together for lunch at 1pm. We were still enjoying the skiing and not starving and decided to try and eat after the main lunch rush.

We arrived at the Ski Lodge just after 1pm for lunch. We found the others already eating in the cafeteria and we found some good seats by the windows overlooking the parking lot. Dad and I got in line and decided the pulled pork sandwich meal looked good and grabbed that for us and David as well. The bun was a little soggy but wow was it tasty. As we finished up lunch Rachel and Ryan decided they were done for the day. Bob wanted another run or two and joined us on the lifts for the first afternoon run. We hit the slopes again just after 1:40pm.

  • Nightmare (diamond)
  • Motherlode-Lower Tenderfoot (diamond)
  • Kamikaze (diamond)
    • We hit top of the lift at 3:21pm. Realized that flight check-ins for David and I were within 15 minutes. We also knew the lifts closed at 4pm and didn't like the idea of waiting around doing nothing for 10 minutes. We then decided to make another run and risk the slightly late check-in
  • Piney (diamond)
    • We made this run fast! Wanting to get back up the lift in time for check-ins we bottomed at 3:28pm and were back to the top at 3:37pm. Started check-ins the moment we got off the lift, about 7 mins late for Mark, about 2 late for David. Didn't want to risk droppign the phones off the ski lifts. I got a B30 or so check-in, could have been worse. Dad had another 15 minutes.
  • Black Powder
    • Ran this one fast, again. Dad and David bottomed first ahead of me and Dad hopped the lift right away to make it to the top for his flight check-in. David waited for me and we rode the lift up together. We debated on the way up whether Dad would risk pulling his phone out on the lift to check-in on time and found at the top that he had indeed waited.
  • 10th Mountain
    • Last run of the day and a fitting run to choose for David and the rest of us in memory of the 10th Mountain Division that had trained here. We bottomed out at 4:11pm and finished the day.

On the drive back it was just the three of us as Bob had gone back early with Rachel and Ryan. We reminded ourselves on the drive that it was also Joyce's birthday and received word from Bob that an angel food cake was needed. We attempted to find one at Safeway in Leadville but they had nothing. We then held out for City Market in Buena Vista and were fortunate to find just what we wanted.

We got back to the cabin in time for supper. Rachel had prepared a delicious ravioli dish for us all as well as apple nachos. I was most intrigued by this new nachos concept. It involved sliced apples with shredded coconut on it (which looked like mozzarella cheese!), chocolate chips, almond pieces and caramel. They were fantastic and I look forward to trying them again sometime.

Ryan and Rachel had plans to head back home after supper and were on their way. About 20 minutes later we received a call from them that snow and wind were hitting pretty hard and visiblity was pretty bad. They opted to come back to the cabin for the night. We all watched Charlie Bartlett together, one of Joyce's Netflix DVDs.


We were able to sleep in a little again this morning (like 8am). We had a great discussion over breakfast about the challenges of education in America right now with the lot of us around the table being teachers. The plan after breakfast was to finalize packing, help clean the cabin, and then hit the road to Denver whenever we were ready. It ended up being around 9:45am that we said our good-byes.

The drive out through South Park was incredibly windy. Even in our small jeep we could feel the cross-winds hit our vehicle in sections wondering if we'd stay on the road. We are still unsure how some of the semi trucks on the road weren't tipped over. It was around 11:40am when we hit our primary destination: REI-Denver.

We spent a good 40 minutes pondering a great many potential purchases at REI but ended up walking out of the store with nothing but ideas for future needs. We then made our way towards the airport. We did lunch at Wendy's on Chambers Rd. just north of I-70 nearing the entrance to the airport. GasBuddy also led us to a Safeway with fairly cheap gas just down the road to fill up the rental car. The rental drop-off with Alamo was infinitely smoother than last year's fiasco with Payless Rental.

After checking in at the airport and making our way uneventfully through security David stopped off in Concourse A to take advantage of the USO. Dad and I headed out to my gate to await our departures. David and I departed about 5 minutes apart with Dad's being another 20 minutes later. This worked out perfectly. All our flights were able to leave on-time with David, surprisingly, being the only one to not have to change planes later in the day. He would however have several stops along his way home.

I made it into Nashville a little early which gave me ample time to find some supper at Burger King and a comfy chair to sit and read in til my next flight getting me home. I arrived in Detroit almost 20 minutes early which left Sarah scrambling to get to the airport to grab me. It was about 11:15pm after a long day of travelling when we finally left the airport to make our way home.

The End.