Photo credits: John Schmerfeld, Jeannette Carter
Janet Garzone Kosidlak
Winter Park: This year, 2020, was to be my last winter vacation.
Winter Park offered all the activities to top off my last winter vacation; snowshoeing, dog sledding, and cross-country skiing. All were available at Winter Park. Snowshoeing was the first activity. Walking through the woods noting the silence, hearing an occasional bird, seeing animal tracks and discovering different types of trees was a pleasure. The guide pointed out edible pine needles and growth on the some of the trees. The amount of edible growth was related to the purity of the air.
Next was sledding. The dogs were already harnessed and ready to go. After being wrapped up in blankets we were dashing though the snow. At the end of the tour the dogs were rolling through the snow cooling off. The dogs were friendly and enjoyed being petted.
Cross country skiing was nixed in favor of downhill skiing. The call from the slopes was too great; packed powder and favorable weather. So, if all goes well, it will be downhill again next year and I abandoned the plans to sell my ski onesies on PoshMark.
An additional activity was sharing a riding on a snow cat with Merry. She will tell you more about seeing the Continental Divide on the ride.
Merry de Grouche
Janet and I no longer talk about “our last year of skiing.” Who knows—there may be more. Winter Park was special—nice and easy green slopes with beautiful vistas. Free transportation made exploring nearby areas (Town of Winter Park and Fraser) doable, and Cabriolet made the Village a short ride away for a pleasant stroll and shopping. Our favorite meal was at a delightful restaurant, Fontenot, in the Town of Winter Park and we enjoyed pizza night with the gang. A wonderful snowcat ride up the mountain gave us breathtaking views of the Continental Divide in mid-afternoon sun, accompanied by a folksy history of the resort and various characters along the way. Enjoyed!!!
I skied three wonderful days at Winter Park. On Wednesday morning I wasn’t breathing normally and had a cough. I went to Denver Health Winter Park Medical Center at the Ski Patrol and they determined I had altitude sickness and placed me on oxygen for 24 hours and the next three nights.
Gail and I really enjoyed and benefited from our lesson with Cathy on Monday. We spent several hours improving our speed control technique(s), referred to as slip-sliding by rolling our ankles to edge both skis, releasing on the flat part, then edging again to stop.
She also taught us to gently/quietly kick out the uphill knee/shin to initiate each turn then keep both skis in simultaneous unison to promote a fluid, balanced turn.
She's a great communicator/instructor who clearly breaks down each point into understandable steps.
We employed those tips/techniques nicely on Thursday which we referred to as "Powder Day." Gail had tons of new fun cruising through 6 inches of powder on intermediate Mary Jane slopes, namely Edelweiss, Bluebell, and Roundhouse. She commented:
Skiing that fluffy powder early was like "floating on air" and playing with the small bumps was "really fun." That experience was enhanced/decorated by a beautiful wall of snow-covered trees. Around mid-morning after those runs were partially skied-out, it was still soft enough to plow through.
First Tracks starting at 8:00 am each weekday was NO disappointment. Two to five inches of fresh powder met five PSCers and their First Tracks Guide/Instructor. One highlight for some was Wednesday morning's First Tracks trip to Panorama and down Parsenn Bowl through the trees and mogul/bumps of blue-black Fireberry. It was an excellent adventure. One perk of First Tracks is being able to leave your boots, skis and poles in the Private Lesson building each afternoon, a convenient 20 ft from the Gondola!
A favorite place to ski was the blue tree glades/trails down in the Parsenn Bowl which are reached from Panorama (top) lift (12,000 ft): Juniper, Forget-Me-Not, and Paintbrush. These trails were thick with 4-6 inches of fresh snow daily, had few fellow skiers—sometimes none. Pure Total Joy!
We were lucky to have very good powdery snow, which fell several times while we were there. It was the kind of snow that people hope for when they ski in Colorado. The mountain offered a good variety of blue runs for intermediate level people like me and also a quantity of black runs which I ignored. The scenic view of the mountains from the top of Panorama Lift was truly beautiful and worth the lift ride up, which could be a bit on the chilly side. We enjoyed using the little red wagons to transport our skis around the Village (Winter Park Ski Area Base) on the way to and from the Gondola lift. The Vintage Hotel was very quiet, had comfortable beds, and plenty of hot water for showers. We appreciated the room kitchenettes, which allowed us to occasionally escape the restaurant taxes, which were somewhat higher than back home. One of my restaurant bills had a “livable wage tax” added on.
There was a convenient free bus and lift system which enabled us to travel from our hotel to the Village or into the town of Winter Park. In the town were a number of great restaurants, of which we particularly liked Ciao Monte. Among the non-ski diversions were snowshoe guided tours and the Headwaters Center, an interesting and well-put-together educational center with interactive displays about the Colorado river ecology.
While most of us felt OK, a few of the trip participants said that the altitude (9,100 feet in the town of Winter Park and 12,060 feet at the mountain top) was creating problems for them. This happened to people who don’t usually experience altitude sickness on ski trips.
Jeannette did an outstanding job as trip leader and Cathy gave a great ski lesson to anyone who requested one.
I really enjoyed skiing First Tracks with Doug, John & Cindy, and John. Discovered I still have things to learn and refine in my fundamental skiing groomed slopes.
On the last day we were starting to get annoyed that our instructor was late. When the miscommunication got sorted out, we ended up getting the best coaching of the week from a former ski racer, US ski team coach, and ski instructor examiner.
Hernando’s Pizza Pub had walls & tables plastered with one-dollar bills. There are over $36,000 worth of decorated one-dollar bills.
I got to ski the first two days with my sons Jay and Jeff; this is becoming a treasured tradition in recent years. We hadn’t figured out that you could just look at the top from almost anywhere and see if it was in the clouds. So, we went up there only to ski down the ridge with about 10-yard visibility.
Later in the week on a bluebird day, it was easy to see the top was clear. So, John Natterer and I finally got to do it. The map shows individual blue and black trails, but it’s actually an open bowl that allows skiers of almost any level to find a comfortable or adventurous line. We loved it.
WP is kinda Steamboaty in that it has long groomed but fluffy blues and really nice powdery woods (not dense glades). The color coding wasn’t always that helpful; a blue trail that was a lot of work might be right next to a black diamond that was a piece of cake. And, they had blue/blacks. I never did figure out what that meant.
The little wagons for pulling your stuff through the village and the free shuttles were a very pleasant touch.
Thanks, Jeannette, for a memorable, well organized PSC trip.
Winter Park 2020 Photo Album