Mailbag trek, another epic adventureLast weekend's Grand Nordic Mailbag Trek commemorating the old mail route from the Coulter Ranch, Granby over Cottonwood Pass to Hot Sulphur showed exactly why this could be one of the most difficult mail delivery routes in the West.Andy Peterson brought a bag of early 1900s mail discovered in his older home over 10 years ago to complete their delivery. Almost 50 people skied through private ranch lands ascending over Cottonwood Pass and dropping into Hot Sulphur Springs. This was a once-a-year chance to cross-country ski or snowshoe the old private ranches around Cottonwood Pass, through beautiful hay meadows, aspen groves and sagebrush fields ending at the Hot Sulphur Springs Fire House. At registration, weather was beautiful and snow was plentiful, but less than an hour into the trek the winds came and snow was blowing sideways in a whiteout. Thanks to experienced skiers, Brian Mountain Patrol members, Fraser Valley Partnership for Trails (FVPT) leaders and Grand Nordic instructors, participants were gathered and led up the trail. I followed with the snowmobile to make sure all remained on track but I also had problems seeing the trail.Thank you for furry friends like my dog Duke who ran ahead of me on the packed trail showing the way when I could only see a slight ridge in the snow at my side. But all found the trail signs and emerged from the meadows unscathed and with a story to tell that will live on for a long time.The warm Gatorade and snacks offered by Dan Nolan at the aid station at the top hit the spot, and only one or two skiers opted for the sag wagon down. No one accepted the extra clothes offered. Carrying a pack on a trip into the backcountry allows you to carry the food, water and extra clothes one might need in the fickle Colorado weather. Always go prepared.The storm lasted only an hour and the rest of the ski was delightful through the beautiful aspens and meadows down into Hot Sulphur Springs. The finish sign provided by Waste Management was adorned with flags and was indeed a welcome sight. Some skiers enjoyed the trek so much they skied back over to see the beautiful meadows on the east side that they had missed during the whiteout, but only after they enjoyed an incredible lunch offered by the Hot Sulphur Springs Chamber of Commerce and fire department featuring at least eight crock pots brimming with homemade soups and more.Donations were gladly accepted and even more gladly given. Most skiers and their families also visited the Pioneer Village Museum, which offered free admission for the day, and discovered what a gem it is of our local history.The Trek was sponsored by Grand Nordic in partnership with Hot Sulphur Springs Chamber of Commerce, Headwaters Trails Alliance, FVPT, and Grand County Historical Association. Proceeds help support kids' cross-country programs in Grand County. Look for it as an annual event in February.Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic CenterColorado Biathlon hosts the State Championships on Feb. 16 and 17. Check their website www.coloradobiathlon.org for details, schedules or to sign up.Devil's Thumb RanchFeb. 17 is the next Ski Joring Clinic from 10 a.m. to noon. Learn to ski with your dog! Cost is $30 with your own leash, harness and a $45 package includes clinic, harness and trail pass; ski rental equipment available for $10.Grand Lake Nordic CenterValentine's 2-for-1 Trail Passes for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 14-16. The Nordic Center is celebrating Valentine's Day with a 2-for-1 Trail Pass deal. Bring your sweetie out for a special day in the beautiful outdoors!5th Annual Romp & Stomp for Grand County Pet Pals on Sunday, Feb. 17, 10 a.m. - noon. Come to the Nordic Center with your furry friends for a great fundraising event in support of the Grand County Pet Pals and their mission toward promoting responsible pet ownership and spay/neuter campaign. For more details about the event or Grand County Pet Pals, visit www.gcpetpals.org. MPHS NordicHelp is needed for State Meet this Thursday and Friday at Snow Mountain Ranch. Volunteers are needed to help time the races, no experience necessary. The time commitment would be from about 2:15 to 5:30 p.m. on both days. Coach Dave Zink is looking for volunteers. Contact him at 970-531-3428 or firstname.lastname@example.org for details.Aspen ResultsMPHS Nordic Skiers raced their last regular season meet in Aspen on Saturday, Feb. 9. The classic race was on the Aspen high school course, with fresh snow and warm temperatures making for a good classic wax challenge as teams struggled to find their kick.The Middle Park Women finished in 7th place as a team, with senior Abrah Masterson leading the panthers in for 18th place, followed by a great finish from Jenna Curran in 27th place, and then Amelia Clancy in 33rd place, just meeting her goal of qualifying for the state meet classic discipline.The MPHS men had a very strong race and just lost first place as a team by 3 points, the first time the Panthers have had three guys in the top 10 in many years.Senior Taber Miyauchi led off with a 6th place finish, just 50 seconds out of first, Simon Zink followed 8 seconds later in 7th place, and Steve Simmons brought in 10th place, about 26 seconds later. Sophomore Daniel Kopp continued his recovery from early season injury, coming in 22nd, the fourth Middle Park skier to finish above the state qualifying line for the race.
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