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getting in touch with my inner colorado girl


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Grand County Winter Love

This weekend, for the first time in the past few months, I’ll actually be in Denver all weekend long. Denver weekends have been a rarity for me this winter because my priorities get a little confusing during ski season. Well, actually, not that confusing. My priorities are skiing during ski season! Another reason my priorities have been confusing? I absolutely love winter weekends in Grand County and it’s been hard to tear me away.

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My boyfriend’s family has a cabin in Grand Lake, and it’s really in my opinion the best winter location in Colorado. Big statement I know, but let me back it up!

Top 5 Reasons Grand County in the Winter is Awesome

5) Serenity

Whenever people hear that my boyfriend, Graham, is working in Breckenridge for the year I think the image people get in their mind is not quite as cool as reality. While Breckenridge is picturesque, quaint and has a killer view of the Ten Mile Range, it’s also well known that it can become a madhouse during high season. Fact: one of our favorite past times is watching the tourists, unfamiliar with Colorado liquor laws, unknowingly stock up on 3.2 beers at the City Market in Breck. Grand County on the other hand? Not exactly the huge tourist draw in the winter, especially once you get away from the Winter Park area. Compared to the traffic jams of I-70, Grand Lake is as quiet and serene as it gets. Grand Lake is for sure more of a summer destination, and in the winter it’s incredibly peaceful.

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4) Steamboat

Skiing wise, I think Grand County has the best of both worlds. From Grand Lake it’s about 35-40 minutes to Mary Jane and an hour and a half to Steamboat, which suddenly makes Steamboat a completely reasonable day trip. Steamboat is definitely not a reasonable round trip from Denver, as it’s about 3 1/2 hours away. The other great part about Grand Lake > Steamboat is that Hot Sulphur Springs is conveniently on the way back. It’s not a particularly fancy hot spring pool, but that’s kind of why it’s great.

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3) Other things to do

I love skiing as much as the next person but what I am learning is that I also just love being outdoors in the winter. It’s nice to have other options sometimes, and Grand County offers ample snowshoeing, cross country skiing, snowmobiling and ice fishing opportunities. On a side note, someone please explain what part of ice fishing is fun to me because I absolutely do not get it! Back to the point, after being hazed on a New Year’s Day cross country skiing trip this year with Graham’s family (extremely steep and narrow trail in Rocky Mountain National Park with boots that ended up breaking on the trip), I have since come around to really having fun on a pair of cross country skis. I now even have a pair of cross country ski boots in my size at the cabin! A few weeks ago, Graham and I decided to take the dogs on a walk by cross country skiing up and down a mini-hill behind the cabin. It was an absolute blast, and with the view of Shadow Mountain Reservoir ahead of us I dubbed it our own Lake Tahoe.

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2) Beautiful

Grand Lake is the largest natural lake in Colorado, and along with Shadow Mountain Reservoir, Lake Granby AND the Colorado River there are amazing vistas to be found everywhere. You’re surrounded by striking mountain ranges, like the Never Summers, the Indian Peaks and the Vasquez Wilderness in the middle of huge valleys, bordered by bodies of water. Last weekend as Graham and I were driving through Byers Canyon, the sun was setting and the light was dancing across the Colorado River. It was spectacular.

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1) Baby cows

Grand County is a fairly rural mountain county, all things considered. Have you ever been to Granby or Kremmling? They are both pretty no frills towns, populated mostly by locals. I think that rural nature of Grand County is actually a huge part of what makes it feel so homey and comforting. The best part of all? In the springtime, on your way to the Jane from Grand Lake or driving over Ute Pass from Highway 9, there are farms that line the road. And these farms, in the springtime, have baby cows running around everywhere. I will agree that adult cows are not the most attractive creatures, but if you try to tell me that baby cows are not the cutest thing in the world…them’s fighting words! Driving past baby cows on the way to go ski a spring powder day in late March? Heaven. It’s the best of Grand County without a doubt.

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When I asked Graham, a true Grand County kid at heart, for any input about this entry, he said, jokingly, that he was a bit worried about this because he doesn’t want GC spoiled. I mean I was just flattered that he thinks that many people actually read my blog! So if you are reading this, I would caution you to use the information from this post for good purposes only. Graham has a ferocious dog named Cooper that will find you in Grand County if you are misbehaving!

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Cooper at Shadow Mountain Resevoir. Ferocious looking, right?!

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Sibling reunion in Colorado

Last weekend I had the extreme pleasure of hosting my two brothers, Karl and Derek, and my “casi-hermana” (translation = almost sister) Kindra, my brother Karl’s better half, in the state of Colorado! We were missing a few members of our family, like my niece Harper, but it was still a blast to have my siblings visit. On a side note, Harper’s second birthday is tomorrow, so now that she is officially the minimum ski age I expect her participation in all future trips to Colorado.

1526902_624760439164_1200360238_nHarper = future Olympic skier?

Anyway, Karl, Kindra and Derek all flew in last Friday night, and we immediately caravanned up to the mountains. We stayed at Graham’s family’s cabin in Grand Lake for the weekend, and it was a blast to be able to share one of my favorite places in the world with my family. After making it up to the cabin and having a few celebratory beers, we went to bed in anticipation of an early ski day at Mary Jane the next day.

One of the things I appreciate most about have the Rocky Mountain Super Pass is the fact that you actually get real discounts on ski tickets for family and friends, unlike another pass that shall remain nameless but rhymes with “Bail Tesorts”. I was able to get passes for $59 along with half price on rentals for my siblings. Score! Because Graham and I always go to the Mary Jane side of Winter Park, we decided to haze my brothers on the steeps and moguls. After getting caught in a total white out at the top of the Panorama lift in the afternoon, we called it a day and headed back to the cabin.

IMG_0002K + K on skis

IMG_0007Derek shredding the gnar

Back in Grand Lake, I convinced my brothers it would be fun to take Cooper on a walk and check out the view of Lake Granby and Shadow Mountain Reservoir from the top of the neighborhood. After postholing and crawling through 3 feet deep snow, we finally made it to the top and enjoyed the insane view.

IMG_0024Lake Granby

IMG_0026Shadow Mountain

At the top of the ridge, the view is 360 degrees with Shadow Mountain on one side and Lake Granby on the other. Definitely a killer view. Karl kept commenting how the Grand Lake area of Colorado reminded him of Montana with lakes, rivers, valleys and mountain views. I have to agree. It’s a pretty awesome part of the state! 

On Sunday, our last day of skiing, I did a better job of leading my brothers around the mountains with less getting caught in white out conditions and skiing down steep moguls. It was a gorgeous bluebird spring day full of skiing! Kindra had to head back early to the airport due to a work commitment, but Karl, Derek and I went back to the cabin for one more night in Grand Lake. Graham was able to stick around too, and we journeyed into the bustling metropolis of Grand Lake for Mexican food.

After packing and cleaning the cabin on Monday morning, my brothers and I headed down to Denver. We were able to get in some rock climbing at Earth Treks before starting the airport runs, which was a lot of fun.

IMG_0018Climbing at Earth Treks

It was a treat to be able to climb at Earth Treks in the middle of the day. I’m used to it being so crowded after work on weekdays that it was nice to have the place to ourselves! I reluctantly dropped my brothers off and headed home to do laundry and prepare for facing the real world again the next day.

Takeaways? If you come visit me in Colorado I might haze you and make you ski moguls but I’ll take you to pretty vistas! (And don’t worry, Graham received full brother approval!)