Monday, December 1, 2014

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving week was spent on a whirlwind tour of Colorado. From Boulder, to Summit County, to Cuchara (in the middle of no where, near the New Mexico Border), to Aspen and finally back to Salt Lake City. 

A level 200 USSA coaches clinic brought me to Winter Park, which lead into a couple days of coaching for Speedy's Thanksgiving Camp at Copper, that segued into a road trip from Boulder to Cuchara for Thanksgiving with my cousins and their friends' family. 

To say that Cuchara, Colorado is a very small town in an extremely remote part of the state is kind of an understatement. I barely knew that part of the state existed before my arrival. However, it blew me away. The family we visited lives at the base of Cuchara Ski Area, an old, run down, non-operational ski area lost in time. Their lifts last spun in 2000 and only sporadically throughout the 80s and 90s before that. 

Rather than brave the swarming crowds on Cuchara's main street of an antique shop, a pawn shop and a bar on Black Friday, I decided to do an exploratory mission up the ski area. Starting at a base of 9,248 ft elevation, I ascended about 1,400 vertical feet to their highest lift. With Banjo, my cousins' lovable labradoodle, in tow I picked my way through barely covered under brush and bushes, deeper wind drifts and straight dirt in spots. As I rounded a corner and began traveling straight up the main run the wind eerily blew the abandoned chairlifts, still hanging onto the lift cable for any hope of resurgence. 

Once I made it to the highest point where I felt I could ski down I took off my skis and hiked up the last 150 yards or so to the top lift shack. It was pretty windy that day with spotty snow coverage at the top, so I figured booting up the last bit to claim the summit was fair enough. 

Sitting on an old warped picnic table next to the lift I basked in the sun, feeling strangely at home on this mountain. The run down rickety lift reminded me of where I grew up skiing at West Mountain. The old school humble charm of Cuchara, and any small, grassroots ski area for that matter, evokes the feeling of my roots, where I fell in love with skiing, and where there will always be a special place in my heart.

The skiing actually sucked. But as it always should be, its about the journey, not the destination. Being on this quiet mountain reminded me that I love being outside, on my skis, exploring new places and being completely open to whats next with no expectations. 

It dumped at Copper a few days before Thanksgiving

Me and my wing-man, Banjo, en route to Cuchara

Cuchara at Sunset

Cuchara by day!

Cousin selfie
My cousin, Ryan, who owns Front Range Timber, a barn-wood reclamation company that is blowing up in Denver right now

Baby cousin selfie!

Obligatory Thanksgiving spread photo

and pie...

At the base of Cuchara Ski Area

Summit selfie with Banjo

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