Colorado February 2017

Dates: February 15-21, 2017

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


  • 2-15 (Travel Day)
  • 2-16 (Ski Cooper)
  • 2-17 (Monarch)
  • 2-18 (Ski Cooper)
  • 2-19 (Mt. Bierstadt)
  • 2-20 (Copper Mtn)
  • 2-21 (Leadville Snowshoeing)


We left the house at 3:45pm after a quick packing of remaining items once the boys got out of school. We arrived at the airport almost 3 hours early for our flight so that Sarah could get back home for teaching Weekday School at church. It was 4:30p when we hit the airport and we breezed through security. I had Luke packed in a roller bag to check, and the younger two were in the big black rollerbag. They each had a backpack with personal items. When we got into the concourse we walked to the end once to get some exercise. We stopped along the way to get a snack for Jonah and then headed to our gate for an hour or so. Sat at our gate until 5:45p and then walked to the McDonald's for supper. We were back to our gate by 6:40pm. We had an 8:10p flight and the boarding was a little delayed. We were boarding around B9. Two of us got in the "A" group but we couldn't board all four there. Even at B9 we found a plane with a lot of people on it already and figured it must be a number of through-passengers. We sat close to the back to get 4 together. The plane pushed back a few minutes late, and then as we taxi-ed to a runway we sat another 10 minutes because the plane had to be de-iced. We were about 30 minutes late for takeoff.

In flight Jonah sat by the window, Seth middle, and Luke on the aisle, I sat across from them. I spent most of the flight watching episodes of Arrow on my tablet. The boys also did pretty well occupying themselves for most of the flight. Though we had departed late, we arrived about 5 minutes early into Denver. We headed straight to baggage claim and they arrived in good order. We met Mom and Dad out by the curb down on level 4 and were on our way. They had arrive over an hour earlier, picked up our rental, a GMC Yukon, and also grabbed a few snacks and drinks for the group.

On our drive out on 285 we stopped at King Sooper's in Conifer to grab breakfast food and some lunch food for the next day. The rest of the drive went pretty uneventful. When we arrived at the cabin there was just a few inches of snow on the driveway but we had no problem getting up to the top. It was around midnight when we got there.


Though last night had us going pretty late, I was still up at 6:30am today to get going on the preparations for the day. We wanted to get up to Ski Cooper and get skiing for a full day. We knew the temps were going to be fairly reasonable again today as they had been for us last year. It was projected to be around 40 degrees. I layered up with a long underwear top, a long-sleeve tech shirt and my gore-tex jacket. On the bottom I wore long underwear bottoms and my wind pants. I also brought my fleece liner in the car as backup as well as balaclava. I wore my Cubs winter hat on top and brought both light and heavy gloves along. For the boys they each wore some kind of sweatpants on the bottom with snowpants over them, and on top long-underwear top, a long-sleeve t-shirt, and their winter coats. They also had polartec sweatshirts as backups as well as balaclava. None of us would end up using the balaclavas at all the whole week as the winds never got bad, and even the polartec layers were essentially unnecessary this year.

We were out of the cabin at 7:40am. We made it to Leadville just after 9 and stopped at Bill's Ski Rental to visit with Paul and get setup with our gear. Again, we forgot to do reservations ahead of time where he could have had things more prepped, but it still worked out. We were in and out in 20 minutes and he was great to us as always. We were up to Cooper Hill and hopping into our skis by 10a. We got $30 lift ticket deals today for all 5 of us which made for a sweet deal.

  • Ski Runs - SKI COOPER
  • Eagle - Lower Ambush
  • Molly Mayfield
  • LUNCH - just after 11am
  • Molly Mayfield
  • Tenderfoot
  • Trail's End + Peak-a-Boo
  • Nightmare
  • Pando
  • Upper Ambush-Lower Shamrock
  • 10th Mountain
  • Ambush - Lower Burnout
  • Trail's End
  • Black Powder

We skiied til the lifts closed at 4pm. It had been a beautiful day with temps in the mid 40s and hardly a cloud in the sky. We lotioned up pretty well and nobody got any serious sunburn which was a plus. As we left the place both Luke and I had headaches. I had been drinking water from my Osprey Rev6 pack most of the day but I think we both had some first day altitude. Dad had a conference call to make so I ended up driving home. We stopped at City Market in Buena Vista to get frozen pizzas and then were back to the cabin. Both Luke and I went upstairs to lie down. I ended up sleeping two hours and when I woke up the headache had passed. Both of us missed dinner. Luke ended up staying asleep through the night. When I awoke I reheated some of the night's pizza for "supper". We started watching Jurassic World using my Surface Pro 3 and a DisplayPort-HDMI cable I had brought along to hook up to their TV. Jonah and I ended up being the last ones up tonight until about 11:30p.


Again, we were early risers today, must be our bio clocks are still on Michigan time. It was 6:25a when I was up and Luke was up early as well feeling better. We played a bunch of Stickman Basketball on my Tab S2 at the breakfast table today having some fun and relaxing. Today we got out of the cabin at 8am knowing we had a shorter drive down to Monarch.

We were on the slopes shortly after 9a giving us the prospect of a nice full day.

  • Ski Runs - MONARCH
  • Snowflake
  • Rookie
  • Sleepy Hollow-Tenderfoot
  • Roundabout-North Forty
  • Romp-North Forty
  • Sleepy Hollow-Glade
  • Ramble On
  • Little Mo
  • LUNCH - around noon
  • Beeline
  • Great Divide-Picante-Lower Snowburn
  • Sleepy Hollow-Glade
  • Little Mo
  • Little Mo-Lower Hall's Alley
  • Roundabout-Sidewiner
  • Romp-North Forty
  • Sleepy Hollow-Freeway
  • Ramble On
  • Little Mo
  • Rookie
  • Great Divide-Snowburn

We skiied again until the lifts closed at 4pm. Today everyone was still feeling pretty good at the end of the day. We drove on down to Salida and decided to do supper right away at Wallbanger's. They offer shelled peanuts on the table so we snacked on them awhile as we waited for our orders. I tried the smokehouse burger while Dad and I also shared a pitcher of Ranger IPA. It was all heavenly, I was very content after that meal. From there we drove over to the Salida Aquatic Center and started swimming around 6:30pm. I waited about 20 minutes to join the others and swam some laps to warm up when I first got in. We stayed at the Aquatic Center tila bout 8:30 and then headed back to the cabin. There we watched the latter half of Jurassic World which we had started the night before.


This morning we got out of the cabin at 8:05am. Jonah decided he did not want to ski today and so we left him as well as Mom at the cabin. Mom would be spending the day cleaning the cabin for "check-out". We stopped at Bill's along the way to return Jonah's ski gear and to swap out Seth's helmet as his ear muff was coming loose. On the drive we passed the Dog Sled Place again north of Leadville and made a note to look into that for next time. We got to Ski Cooper at about 9:25a and hopped on the hills.

  • Ski Runs - SKI COOPER
  • Easy Street
  • Ambush
  • Motherlode-Lower Tenderfoot
  • * stayed at top for about 10 minutes here to do flight check-ins
  • Homestake
  • LUNCH - 11:20 to 11:45, quick sack lunch which we left in the lodge while we skiied
  • Shamrock
  • Nightmare
  • Trail's End
  • Vendome Burn-Last Chance

We skied til almost exactly 2p today, and were in fact to the car by 2p. We needed time to get out to Monument and so we shortened the day a bit. On our drive out we returned all the skis to Bill's and then headed for the cabin. We were at the cabin just over a half hour getting things packed into the car and final bits of cleaning done. We left the cabin and drove for two hours to Monument to arrive at Bob and Joyce's just after 6p.

Aunt Joyce had a wonderful mexican bar for supper. We really enjoyed the evening visiting with my cousins Sara and Rachel as well as Sara's husband Chris and little Addie. She was a friendly little one and even took a liking to our boys when I could get them to play with her. We left their house and headed for a Quality Inn near Denver airport about 9:35p.


We were up at 7:30am this morning, it was practically sleeping in. With staying so close to the airport and Mom and my boys only having an 11:10am flight, we didn't have a huge rush. Even so, we got the boys all packed up and headed down for breakfast at 8:10am. We were over to the airport for dropoff by 9:10am and got the group on their way. As Dad and I drove back towards the hotel to gather our stuff up he brought up the crazy idea, "you know, we could go do Mt. Bierstadt today." I gave it about 10 seconds thought, running quickly through the pros and cons of it, and had a pretty quick "YES!"

We've never really started a 14er this late in the day, but given the winter weather and lack of thunder and lightning it is somewhat safer. We would also be driving right by Georgetown on our way to the mountains making it a shorter drive for us today than to come all the way back tomorrow. We recognized that we would be hiking out in the dark but given the relatively wide open nature of Bierstadt and most of it being above treeline we felt comfortable with that. We also knew more snow, 2-4 inches was coming in tonight. This was good and bad. It would make tomorrow much tougher with all the new snow to trek through. But it also brought with it the slight danger of getting caught in that weather tonight. We decided to go for it. Upon getting back to the hotel we did a quick repacking getting our daypacks ready to go and everything else thrown in the car. We hit I70 and were on our way to Georgetown.

There in Georgetown we hit a gas station to grab some Gatorade and snacks. I had the epiphany, that chocolated covered pretzels would be perfect for this winter hike, and they were! Yum. We headed up the Guanella Pass road and made our way to the Naylor Lakes parking lot where the winter plowing stops. We were surprised there were more than a dozen cars there. We would find out this is a popular dayhiking spot as well as for snowmobiles. We got on the trail at 11:30am.

Mt. Bierstadt Winter Ascent

It was 7:40p when we got back to the car. As we drove out I found out on Google MAps that I70 west was closed because of an accident related to the newly falling snow. We decided to hit a restaurant in Georgetown for food and then figure out our travel plans after. We found The Alpine Bar and Restaurant and it was great. We ordered some fries to snack on and shared a 16 inch pizza. We each had mugs of Fat Tire beer and it made for a good meal. We were checking the CO DOT twitter feed and it looked like they might reopen I70. By the time our meal was done we drove for the exit. We found traffic in Georgetown was packed as many people had exited the interstate there and really had nowhere to go. We were able to get onto I70 and head west. It was slow going with all the traffic but we did eventually make our way to Frisco where we could exit. The traffic on CO-9 was also thick and until we got to Hoosier Pass we never made it very fast. After Hoosier Pass things were mostly smooth sailing back to the cabin. There we had to turn the heat and water back on again for our short stay. It was about midnight when we got there. We each slept in sleeping bags to alleviate the amount of laundry we would have to do upon our last day.


Dad and I left the cabin at 8am for Leadville. We had some debate as to where to ski again today, and decided to lean towards Copper Mtn but see what deals we could find. Had we reserved something yesterday online we may have had more luck. In Leadville we stopped at Safeway. Dad hopped in the customer service line and was able to get Copper tickets for $40 off. I worked on grabbing some hot breakfast sandwiches and also some Mountain Dew. We headed up to Copper and were impressed with the views along the highway as much new snow had fallen overnight. The road had some thin compacted on the road and all the trees were beautifully frosted. At Copper we followed the signs for free parking and were led into the large Alpine Lot. We parked near the back of it, got our gear and then walked to the shuttle stop we hopped the blue shuttle to head for the Center Village. We walked from the shuttle up to the base of the hill and hopped onto the first lift.

  • Rhapsody
  • See & Ski-Coppertone-Carefree
  • Connector to Rendezvous Lift
  • Otto Bahn
  • Otto Bahn
  • Union Park
  • Attempted lunch at a food truck but they were out of propane and so no hot food.
  • Coppertone/Easy Road/Minor Matter
  • LUNCH - 12:40 to 1:10, T-Rex Grill. Hebrew national dog for me, Brat for Dad, each had an Escape IPA, sat outside on the "beach".
  • Soliloquy
  • The Moz/Woodwinds Traverse
  • Connector to Rendezvous Lift
  • Otto Bahn/Alcante
  • Otto Bahn
  • Wheeler Creek-Skid Road
  • Collage
  • Bittersweet - Leap Frog - Carefree
  • Coppertone/Loverly

After skiing we hopped the shuttle back to the car and headed out. Just south of town we saw a wreck on the side of the road. It appeared that the car had rolled over, but we couldn't completely tell why. We drove on to Buena Vista and stopped at the Eddyline Brewery and Pub. It was fairly small for an eating area. We split their "Paddle" of beer which was a sampler with their five main brews plus a seasonal which was named "14er Java Stout". The beers wer very enjoyable. For supper I ordered their chicken wings with the buffalo sauce. They were awesome. They put little bits of diced garlic and green onion on them and it was great. The sauce had a pretty strong bite. After eating we were back to the cabin at 7pm. We each showered and had towels to wash. We also spent time packing up so we could leave in the morning.


We were up at 7am to get packed out. We weren't in any great hurry today. We reheated the pizza from Alpine for breakfast and finished packing and cleaning. We were checked out of the cabin at 9am. We made the drive up to Leadville one more time, only this time we stopped just short. We headed west on CO-300 to the Leadville National Fish Hatchery to snowshoe the trails there.

Rock Creek to Colorado Trail to Kearney Park Snowshoeing

It was 2pm when we finished snowshoeing, we hopped in the car and drove on into Denver. Traffic was pretty good today until we got close to downtown where we began to hit rush hour. It was perhaps 4:30p when we got to REI and headed in to shop for about 45 minutes. After shopping we hit the parking lot and repacked our remaining gear. It was a surprising 72 degrees out. From there we headed to the airport to dropoff the car and then head into the terminal. We had no problems with bag check or security and were out to Concourse C by 6:50p. We had supper at the Timberline Restaurant. I tried their Upslope Pale Ale and it was really good. I had their all-American burger for supper which was a tasty burger. We finished up just as it was time for me to get to my gate for boarding. That was about 7:45pm. Dad and I said good bye after an awesome trip.

My flight was boarded and ready to leave early and did take off a few minutes early. It wasn't a full flight and the middle seat next to me was open. I watched ARrow and The Flash on my tablet, I drank a rum and coke with a drink coupon Dad gave me. The flight got into Detroit about 30 minutes early and Sarah was there to grab me.

The End.