Every year my friends and I pick a day in February to head up to Spring Gulch in Carbondale, Colorado and go classic cross country ski and skate skiing up to our favorite picnic spot. This year we chose Valentine’s Day for our excursion and invited our men along.
Maintained and operated by the Mount Sopris Nordic Council, a community-based non-profit organization, the Spring Gulch Nordic Trail System offers 12 miles of track and is located seven miles west of Carbondale up Thompson Creek Road. No fees are charged for the use of these trails, but membership in the Mount Sopris Nordic Council is encouraged. The tracks are for cross-country skiers only and no dogs are allowed.
As much as I love heading with friends into the peaceful hills that travel through enchanted forests of Gambel Oak and Aspen groves, I’m not so in love with classic skiing. I think my personality is a bit too agro for that harmonious sport and so my ancient x-country equipment lives in the garage until it gets pulled out for this annual event. I have been known to have to shake out the cozy beds made in my cross country ski boots by the only pets we have, mice.
In the wintertime my recreation usually revolves around skinning and skiing – but with springlike conditions my last skin up Buttermilk felt like wet concrete was hardening on the bottoms of my ancient moleskins. The very fit woman skinning ahead of me quit – but I was determined to make it to my meditation spot on top. When I got there with blisters on my heels the size of small water balloons from my ancient boots (are you seeing a pattern here yet?) I made a vow to try a different sport, like skate skiing.
Before heading up to Spring Gulch I decided that this was my chance to swap out my equipment for something racier and so I visited the Aspen Cross Country Ski Center, where Charlie visited for her last classic skiing lesson, and rented a pair of skate skis, boots and poles for $30.
I have told you before that most of my girlfriends are far more hard core than me and I’m usually yapping behind them on any given activity, breaking out in a sweat trying to catch up (except for when we are alpine skiing – ha!). When I made the announcement that I had rented skate skis the group exchanged looks and Rochambeau’d on who was going to babysit me as I embarked on this somewhat tricky new sport.
Perhaps it is from my roller blading days up to the Maroon Bells, or maybe I’m just a quick study, but it took no time at all to get into the fluid motion and learn the technique of coordinating poles with skis. I was hooked immediately to the sound of the snow shushing beneath my skis, the dynamic motion connecting mind and body together into a meditative state, the incredible workout using every body part AND my ability to swoosh by my taunting badass friends and beat them to the top. Let it be known that I am now in search of second hand skate skiing equipment to replace my skinning gear for a while. Anyone? I’m adding it to my “Vision Board” on Pinterest.
Love was definitely in the air and it was quite a magical day we had up there with the low lying clouds and light fluffy snow falling through the trees. The raclette, chocolate and wine helped to heighten the experience and we vowed to continue making this an annual thing, now with our men. There is nothing like a day spent with friends in the great outdoors and as usual, I thanked my lucky stars for bringing me to this place where love rules and magic continues to sparkle through the forest.