Colorado Mar/Apr 2016

Dates: March27 - April 2, 2016

People: Mark, Luke, Jonah, Seth, Denny, Marcia


  • 3-27 (Travel Day)
  • 3-28 (Skiing Monarch)
  • 3-29 (Ski Cooper)
  • 3-30 (Ski Cooper)
  • 3-31 (Snowshoeing Hoosier Pass)
  • 4-1 (La Plata Peak)
  • 4-2 (Travel Day)


Sarah dropped us off at the airport about 6:50pm. The boys and I had it easy to get bags checked and security had almost no line. We got to our gate and sat and waited. The Syracuse-Virginia Elite 8 March Madness game was on. Virginia was leading big by 14 until Syracuse made a late run and won. They started board procedures roughly on time as the plane had arrived on time. They also wanted to proceed quickly as a storm was headed in. However boarding went unexplicably slow. It was 8:10a when we finally went down the jetway and our departure time was scheduled for 8:20am. Then the jetway was backed up because presumably someone (s) were having issues getting seated. We sat down with the 3 boys on one row and me across the aisle from them. The rest of boarding went okay. Just as we were pushing back from the gate they said because of the storm we were going to be redirected slightly north around Flint and this would require more fuel and so they delayed us 10 minutes. We were then ready to taxi away and they said the storm was upon us and not many flights were getting out. We sat and waited almost 30 minutes on a taxi way. By the time we finally took off we were over an hour late. To make matters worse it was getting really hot on the plane.

I spent most of the flight trying to watch Man of Steel but was getting constantly interrupted. I slept 20-30 minutes towards the end. We arrived and thankfully our bags did rather quickly. Mom/Dad got us picked up and we were on our way out of Denver. Drive out along 285 was uneventful and we made it to the cabin around 1:30am MDT. It was pretty late but we made it alright. The driveway had about 2-3 inches of snow on it. We made it halfway up and the minivan could go no further. We parked and carried our gear up. Got the boys situated and unpacked some gear and then hit the sheets.


I got up about 7:40am after the short night, and worked to get things packed up for skiing and headed down towards Salida. We hadn't done any grocery shopping yet at the cabin and so we decided to do today's breakfast on the go. We headed down into Salida and got breakfast at Sonic. We sat there and ate and then moved on to get ski rentals. We stopped at Mountain Sports Haus as the place we had been using was now closed. They fitted us up real quick, we loaded up our gear and were on our way up to Monarch. We were on the hill by 11am.

Clothing-wiwse, I started wearing polypro tops/bottoms, long-sleeve tech shirt, gore-tex jacket, wind pants, winter gloves, blue Cubs winter hat. I had the GoPro camera on me and a radio. I made the mistake of forgetting my ski goggles at home. For most of the day this wasn’t too big of an issue except a few moments where wind blew snow crystals in my face. In the evening I felt like I had a little sunburn on the eyes. We were pretty warm all morning and had jacket unzipped. At lunch I took off my polypro top. The boys also shed a layer on top. Afternoon the clouds came in and cooled things just a bit but we were still mostly fine without the extra layer. On occasion I threw a light pair of gloves on towards the top of the hill. For the most part today's temps were perfect, not too cold, not too warm.

Ski Runs

  • Started bunny hill 3 times down, once as a whole group, last two just Seth and I
  • Rookie (Seth was already doing fairly well today)
  • Skywalker-KC Cutoff-Sleepy Hollow-Tenderfoot
  • Skywalker-Roundabout-Liberty
  • Sleepy Hollow-Tenderfoot
  • Roundabout-Sidewinder
  • Sleepy Hollow-Tenderfoot
  • Continental Divide-Snowburn (Seth had a very bad time at the one steep section, he ended up sliding down on his butt)
  • Beeline
  • Continental Divie-Snowburn (no Seth)

After skiing we headed back to return skis and then on to Salida for supper at Wallbangers. I tried their smoked pork tacos with a generous helping of pico de gallo on them. Also had a Ranger IPA “Tall boy” beer and it was great. We were going to hit the Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center but the main pool was used by a swim team and we only had access to the soak area in the back. Hit Walmart to fill up on groceries and then headed back to the cabin.


This morning I was up about 5:45am but was in bed trying to get a little more sleep. I finally got out of bed at my 6:20am alarm. My eyes bothered me this morning due to my lack of ski goggles yesterday. Definitely a big rookie mistake. I grabbed some cereal for breakfast and waited for the boys to get up and breakfast. We had targeted leaving the cabin at 7:30am but it was more like 8am.

We had a nice drive up to Leadville and were surprised to see a Dog Sledding outfit on the west side of the road after Leadville. In Leadville we stopped at Bill’s Ski Rental. He was a real nice guy, but it took a while to get all of our gear ready since we hadn't given him much head's up, that, and we found out his Dad did ski repair work in 1945 which put him in the Camp Hale era. This brought up David’s book and we talked awhile longer.

It was about 10:30 when we finally got started at Cooper. Things were a little bit cooler today and I was glad to have all my gear in place including my ski goggles. We proceeded to the caterpillar lift again to get a warm-up run on the bunny hill.

Ski Runs

  • Bunny hill twice (once for warmup, once to get over to the lift side of the hill)
  • Molly Mayfield (nice and wide open)
  • Eagle-Lower Tenderfoot
  • Upper Ambush-Lower Burnout (both blues)
  • Trail's End (blue)
  • LUNCH break around 1pm (homemade sandwiches)
  • Eagle-Lower Tenderfoot
  • Sitzmark
  • Ambush
  • Slade's Run
  • Pando (black diamond)
  • Molly Mayfield
  • Trail's End

We skiied at Cooper til its close at 4pm. We then drove back into Leadville and got a few extra groceries. We headed back to the cabin and were there by 5:30pm. I went out for a 2.5 mile run while Mom cookes frozen pizzas for supper. After supper the boys and I watched Ant-Man on the DVD player. We were all mostly in bed by 10pm. Sunburns from yesterday had improved today and we seemed to have things better managed today.


I was up about 6:45am today. I had some more cereal for breakfast. The boys were all up slowly and I waited to see what wounds we would be dealing with today. Jonah had his typical headache but Luke was feeling better today. We targeted 8am to leave but it was probably more like ten after

We stopped in Leadville on the way to Ski Cooper to grab our lift tickets. We encountered some snowy and very icy roads after Leadville. It was almost 10am when we finally got on the slope. It was only 20deg out today and cloudy skies. We were even getting flurries. We all dressed up pretty warmly today. We hit the bunny hill once to warm up and then made our way to the main lift. Luke wasn’t himself this morning and after a run or two said he was getting too cold. We dropped him and Seth off at the lodge and then Dad, Jonah, and I tried a few runs. Jonah may have arguably been the star of the day. He was showing real comfort on the slopes and some daring. He moved incredibly well even on the black diamonds.

Seth and Luke joined us again for awhile before lunch. We sent all three boys in about 11:45a and then Dad and I made a trio of runs. On our last run in to hit lunch the snow and wind really hit and it almost felt like a blizzard. We were chilled pretty good when we hit the lodge and I had a beard full of snow.

We had a 30 minute lunch and the snow lightened up. Luke and Seth stayed in initially after lunch, they made it back out about 1:45pm and we made a number of good runs together. We sent Seth in about 3pm because his helmet was really bothering his head.

Ski Runs

  • Bunny hill once for warmup
  • Tenderfoot (great powder!)
  • Upper Shamrock-Lower Shamrock (really enjoyed this one with all the powder)
  • Trail's End
  • Kamikaze (Dad and I, big mogul-ed hill at the finish, I took a small fall
  • Motherlode-Motherlode Flats-Lower Burnout
  • Slade's Run (got frozen on this run heading in for lunch
  • LUNCH/blizzard break
  • Piney-Lower Burnout
  • Pando
  • Treasure Trove-Ambush (Jonah rocked Treasure Trove which was narrow in the trees)
  • Pando
  • Nightmare
  • Trail's End-PeakABoo-Trail's End (again Jonah nailed this in the trees)
  • Slade's Run-parts of Powerline

We skied til 4pm and then hit the road. We found that the extra powder really made the black diamonds accessible to the boys today which was a real delight. We stopped in Leadville at Bill’s to drop off the skis. We then hit a sportsstore in downtown Leadville for Dad to buy some webbing straps for the 14er hike in the morning.

On the drive back we realized we would not have time to swim again tonight as our suits were still at the cabin. We also saw that the weather forecast for La Plata was much more favorable for Friday over Thursday and so we talked about changing up plans. This would at least free us to snowshoe with Mom on Thursday and make plans for swimming. We found that there was a family swim from 5p-8p on Thursday evening at half price so everything fell into place. We had sloppy joes and tator tots for supper. We played a game of sequence with the boys for some of the evening. We were all mostly in bed by 10pm again.


I was up just after 7am today. I decided to try the Eggo waffles for breakfast. Over the next hour the boys slowly trickled out of beds as well. I took time getting each of their backpacks ready for our snowshoe expedition including each having a hydration bladder and their daypacks. For Jonah and Seth they were trying out their new daypacks for the first time.

It was a fairly easy-going morning. We decided to do lunch at the cabin for the ease of everything and so we worked to head up to Hoosier Pass to snowshoe. We left around 9am and were at the pass a little before 10am. It was around 20 degrees and so we bundled up pretty warmly.

Snowshoeing at Hoosier Pass

Back at the condo we had sandwich and sloppy-joe leftovers for lunch. Spent the mid afternoon just relaxing. I took this time to sort out gear and start putting away items that we were done with for the trip. At just after 4pm we headed down to Salida. They had family swim time which meant half price from 5pm to 8pm. We were down there and swimming for most all of the 3 hours. Dad forgot his suit so he ran down to Walmart quick to find one. I swam until about 7p and had a bad headache and so I sat out with Mom. Seth proved his toughness by wanting to follow his brothers onto the dive board so much he swam (doggie-paddle) the entire length of the 25m pool so that he could dive too.

After swimming we went down the road and grabbed a late supper at Subway. We headed back to the condo after that. I still had a pretty bad headache and finally had a chance to down some Advil. Dad and I got our 14er gear ready for the morning and established a 4am wake time.


I was up at 3:45am, about 15 minutes before my alarm. I was filled with anxiety for the day’s hike and so rearing to go. It always amazes me, and I thought about this on the first hour or two of the hike how still to this day I still get anxieties the night before a hike. Ultimately I figure this a good thing. It keeps me wary of the potential dangers and challenges that lie ahead. On this hike I knew that we had the dangers of the winter temps and snow, the potential dangers of an avy slope, and simply the dangers our own bodies and health could present. Nonetheless, I found on this day, as has gone before, within the first mile of the hike in I get mentally in the zone and do what needs to be done.

I had a breakfast of two Eggo waffles and a granola bar. We were out of the cabin at 4:15am. US24 was a little snowy so we weren’t making full speed on the drive into Buena Vista. We hit a gas station to fill up the tank as we rolled through BV. We arrived at the TH at 5:30am and it was 2 degrees out with no wind.

Winter La Plata Peak Climb

When we returned to the cabin from the hike we set about getting things ready to leave immediately. Mom and the boys had already got the bedrooms cleaned and so we were left to get gear resituated and bagged and then the floors were swept. It was nearing 7pm when we finally departed the cabin. We made our way back into Denver and found a Chick-fil-A on the northwest side for supper. We then reached the Quality Inn near the airport and settled in for a short night.


Mom and Dad were up very early and out of the hotel room sometime after 5am for their early flight. I got up about 6:25am to shower and get ready. Had the boys up by 6:40a and we went downstairs for breakfast around 7am. We went back upstairs to get our luggage and were back downstairs to meet the airport shuttle at 7:45am. The shuttle worked real well for us. We got our names on the list the night before and then just had to board.

They dropped us off on level 5 by baggage claim and so we hauled everything upstairs and down to the Southwest counter to get bags checked. When we went through security I didn’t take my Surface out of my backpack and this got them to check my bag and look through it a bit.

We had just over an hour and a half sitting at the gate. I bought the boys some bottles of Powerade to drink and we had leftover snacks from the week in their backpacks to munch on. Our flight boarded pretty well on time and we were out of Denver as scheduled.

On the flight the boys were pretty quiet watching and playing things on their tablets. I watched Thor most of the way and used a drink coupon on a rum and coke.

We arrived a few minutes early and our bags actually came pretty quick. Ileene Smith from church came and picked us up because Sarah wasn’t feeling well and was gracious enough to give us a ride home.

The End.