Winter Park Express starts up in January | SkyHiDailyNews.com

Winter Park Express starts up in January

Weekend passenger train service from Denver Union Station to the slopes of Winter Park has returned.
Amtrak, Winter Park Resort and Union Pacific Railroad have reached an agreement to conduct the “Winter Park Express” train, fomerly called The Ski Train, from January 7 through March 26, 2017.
The round-trips will run on Saturdays and Sundays, with an additional round-trip on Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day.
“It’s something we have worked on for many years,” said Winter Park Resort President Gary DeFrange. “Since the last train went through the tunnel we have been trying to figure out how to do this.”
The new commuter rail line from Denver International Airport to Union Station enables visitors to travel directly from their flight to Winter Park.
The project, which has a total budget of $3.5 million, includes other infrastructure improvements at the Union Pacific siding in Fraser.
Additional funding for the platform includes a $1.5 million grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), a $100,000 grant from the City of Denver, a $100,000 grant from the Town of Winter Park, and $1,000 from the Colorado Rail Passengers Association. The remaining funds will come from Winter Park Resort.
“The train really is a differentiator,” DeFrange said. “There’s no other ski area in the United States that can create what we’ve got any time soon. It really ties to the city of Denver even more than before. With the train, your travel to the resort is now part of the fun.”
Adult tickets start at $39 each way and go on sale at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, August 30. The 500 passenger Winter Park Express trains will depart Union Station at 7 a.m. and arrive at the resort at approximately 9 a.m. Customers will be able to grab their gear from the storage cars and be on the slopes within minutes. The Winter Park Express train will depart the resort at 4:30 p.m. arriving in Denver at 6:40 p.m.
Reservations must be made and tickets purchased by 11:59 p.m. the day before departure.

de Vos: America captures 37th place

Hey there!

You worried? Or are you confident!

These days it seems to depend upon your political stripe. Donald tells us to worry about everything while Hillary says there’s nothing to worry about. Maybe we should be allowed to pick and choose our own worries.

One area that raises everybody’s blood pressure is health insurance. Got enough? What’s it cost? Did you buy all the upgrades and supplements? What it I’m denied? Co-pay? Long-term? Out-of-pocket? Out-of-network? Out of options?

If you’ve ever paid attention to a word I’ve written, I’m asking you to look closely at ColoradoCare. It’s a damn radical concept in America. It would make health care a human right rather than a retail package subject to the whims of actuarial algorithms. You think pot rocked the boat? ColoradoCare is more seismic. Yet the calm after the storm will bring stability and enhanced financial security.

I’m tired of people going on about Canada’s great health care. Canada is ranked a lousy 30th by the World Health Organization. Dead last out of thirty better nations. Why would Americans want that?

Well, maybe because we’re ranked 37th, right behind Dominica, a soon-to-be-underwater island north of Venezuela with a population half of Lakewood, Colorado. They have better health care than we do. On the other hand, it’s sort of sad that Global Warming is our best bet to jump to the 36th spot.

We’re so proud of the Gold Medals and American victories in Rio, how can we possibly accept having 36 nations ahead of us in something as direly important to each of us like health care?

Most nations treat health care as a human right. Germany has had a successful single-payer option since the late 1800’s and they’re ranked 25th, twelve ahead of us.

Who says it won’t work? Hah! Darn near everyone with open pockets hates it. Insurance and pharmaceutical companies buy politicians like pickles. On a still night you can hear their money trickling into Colorado like a mountain stream. The headwaters are screaming how the plan would bankrupt the state within the lifetime of your guppy.

Vermont led a quixotic attempt at a similar plan and failed for two reasons: they did not have a sufficient population and the state had inadequate medical resources to make it work. These are both things Colorado has in abundance. It will work here.

Stephen Hemsley, UnitedHealth Group CEO took home $66 million in 2014. Wayne Smith, CEO of Community Health Systems made $26 million the same year; Alan Miller, CEO of Universal Health Services, $18 million; Michael Niedorff, CEO of Centene Corp. $19 million; and that’s not even the tip of the golden iceberg. Between 2000 and 2009 the top 10 health executives took home just shy of a billion dollars.

These are the folks who will be tragically reduced in circumstance if Colorado has the courage to vote for itself over the one-percenters.

If you were proud when America stood up with the Gold in Rio, then join me in asking why we can’t do better than 37th in health care?

Do yourself a favor and look at what the Denver Post pointedly opposes: go to www.coloradocare.org and get information about health care as a right, not a privilege for those who can afford it.

Rau: Prepping for National Public Lands Day

Put it on your calendar now! National Public Lands Day (NPLD) this year is scheduled for Saturday, September 24. The projects to be worked on go right to the heart of trails for hikers, bikers, Nordic skiers, snowmobilers and boaters alike. NPLD is a nation-wide event held every year for the last 23 years at the end of September. This is a cooperative effort by the Federal Land agencies and the public to provide you with the opportunity to give back to your public lands. Federal budgets have been hacked away even in the face of ever-increasing record usage of public lands. Rocky Mountain National Park is now the third most visited park in the United States yet has about one-third the staff of Yosemite or Yellowstone. This has limited the creation of new recreation opportunities and new trails and affected the maintenance of the trail systems and recreation opportunities that we already have.

National Public Lands Day was created to help parks users be able to give back to our public lands by helping staff improve trails or facilities under direction of the parks personnel. The staff each year determines areas that need assistance and work all spring and summer long at prepping those tasks to make that single day of volunteers able to produce the most changes and complete the most tasks. The volunteers ARE the projects and we need everyone possible to show up and help out.

One Headwaters Trails Alliance project on a popular stretch of the Fraser to Granby Trail is to replace the logs lining the YMCA meadow portion of the trail. These keep the actively growing wet meadow from growing over the corridor trail and keep people on the trail from venturing out into the sensitive habitat. Prep work is extremely important since the old rotted decaying logs need to be removed, rebar sticks cut into lengths, new 8-10 inch diameter logs might need to be peeled, these same new 10-12 foot logs need to be drilled so they can be stabilized by rebar. Then the volunteers will be able to actually place and rebar in the replacement logs on NPLD August 24.

The YMCA summer trails staff led by Bill Pierce has been busy doing trail maintenance and developing new areas on their property. In the same time, they have been stockpiling suitable logs 8-10 inches in diameter and 8-10 12-foot in length for this project in their front meadow. If you have a pile of fairly recently cut, straight standing dead that fits this description and want to donate logs to this project, please call Diana Lynn Rau 970-887-0547.

We are scheduling two weekends of prep work September 10-11 and September 17-18 and will come pick up your logs. If you have leftover rebar, we need that too. We also need several volunteers to help remove logs and pull existing rebar as well as cut rebar into appropriate lengths and drill logs. That prep work will make it possible for volunteers to complete laying and fastening replacement logs in the meadow.

Even if you have only a couple hours one of those weekends, consider helping out.

This whole Fraser to Granby Trail which is now so heavily used was created by volunteers over the last 15 years.

Hats off to HTA for continuing to maintain and develop this corridor trail connecting towns and recreation areas in Grand County. It has become an integral part of the recreation and economy of Grand County.

Todd Park Mohr to play at Devil’s Thumb Ranch

Devil’s Thumb Ranch is hosing an intimate End of Summer Concert with Todd Park Mohr of Big Head Todd & the Monsters fame on September 11 in the High Lonesome Barn.

The concert will start with a special guest, Megan Burtt at 6:30 p.m. and the solo concert with Todd Park Mohr will start at 7:30 p.m. Cash bar and food will available at the venue. For ticket information visit their website: www.devilsthumbranch.com.

Winter Park Express starts up in January

Weekend passenger train service from Denver Union Station to the slopes of Winter Park has returned.

Amtrak, Winter Park Resort and Union Pacific Railroad have reached an agreement to conduct the “Winter Park Express” train, fomerly called The Ski Train, from January 7 through March 26, 2017.

The round-trips will run on Saturdays and Sundays, with an additional round-trip on Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day.

“It’s something we have worked on for many years,” said Winter Park Resort President Gary DeFrange. “Since the last train went through the tunnel we have been trying to figure out how to do this.”

The new commuter rail line from Denver International Airport to Union Station enables visitors to travel directly from their flight to Winter Park.

The project, which has a total budget of $3.5 million, includes other infrastructure improvements at the Union Pacific siding in Fraser.

Additional funding for the platform includes a $1.5 million grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), a $100,000 grant from the City of Denver, a $100,000 grant from the Town of Winter Park, and $1,000 from the Colorado Rail Passengers Association. The remaining funds will come from Winter Park Resort.

“The train really is a differentiator,” DeFrange said. “There’s no other ski area in the United States that can create what we’ve got any time soon. It really ties to the city of Denver even more than before. With the train, your travel to the resort is now part of the fun.”

Adult tickets start at $39 each way and go on sale at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, August 30. The 500 passenger Winter Park Express trains will depart Union Station at 7 a.m. and arrive at the resort at approximately 9 a.m. Customers will be able to grab their gear from the storage cars and be on the slopes within minutes. The Winter Park Express train will depart the resort at 4:30 p.m. arriving in Denver at 6:40 p.m.

Reservations must be made and tickets purchased by 11:59 p.m. the day before departure .

History under Devil’s Thumb

Following seasonal Ute and Arapahoe presence in the Ranch Creek area below the west side of Corona Pass and Devil’s Thumb, early settlers set out to ranch the area as early as the 1870s with Billy and Mary Cozens some of the earliest.

Years later there were two main ranches were established nearby in the Ranch and Cabin Creeks area near Fraser. These were Yager’s Devil’s Thumb Ranch and Mueller’s Sky Valley Ranch. In January 1940, the Yager brothers, Don and George, purchased 480 acres from an old dairy farm that sold milk to Fraser residents. They doubled the size of their lands over the next years and decided to move onto their Devil’s Thumb Ranch, living together with their mother in a one-room woodcutters cabin.

With the support of their growing families, the Yager brothers focused on their goal to combine not only cattle raising but to add a dude ranch. They built a saddle shop for horse riders and started on the main lodge. All the logs were local cut and then stripped by George and Don Yager. This structure is still part of Devil’s Thumb Ranch today. At the time there was neither electricity nor water.

World War II brought a halt to expansion of Devil’s Thumb Ranch, but by 1946 the Yagers were back in force. In a 1955 dude ranch brochure, the Yagers claimed, “A bit of the old west with all the comforts of the new. A real working cow outfit, smack dab in the middle of the grandest, prettiest county in the world.”

The Yagers operated Devil’s Thumb Ranch for thirty years as a combination working and dude ranch. They sold the ranch in 1973 to Willi and Retty Mueller who owned the adjacent property, Sky Valley Ranch. The Mueller’s rebuilt the main house and made other improvements to both ranches.

Learn more about the history of Ranch Creek and Devil’s Thumb Ranch this Saturday, August 27 at the Taste of History Champagne Brunch, a fundraiser for Grand County Historical Association. A History Table will showcase a collection of Willi Mueller’s fabulous photographs of the region, now safely housed in the GCHA archives.

~

Weekend fishing report with Bernie Keefe

Williams Fork

Surface temperature at 6 a.m. was 62 degrees with the temperatures rising to 66 degrees in early afternoon. Current flow rate is 51cfs in, 181cfs out. The water level is dropping rapidly. Windy or breezy conditions can be expected early to mid afternoon on most days. The boat ramp is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Lakers are moving, seeking cooler water but are still being caught on jigs tipped with sucker meat at 80 feet and deeper. Lake Trout bite has slowed but they are catch-able. Some small Lakers are being caught by trollers while trolling for salmon. Small numbers of three to four-year-old Kokanee salmon are being caught trolling at slower speeds. Bank fishing for Rainbows is slow. The lake was last stocked with catch-able size Rainbows on May 10. The surface temperatures are dropping but the sub-surface temperatures are still at the summer high. Larger Northern Pike can be found 8 feet to 14 feet. They will move in to shallower water on cloudy days and in the late afternoon. Suspending or diving jerk baits, slow moving spinner baits, and spoons run at depth are producing some hits. Small Northern’s can be caught along the shorelines with small lures. Fishing for Northern’s is best under overcast skies, early and late afternoon. – Randy Hall guide –

Grand Lake

Fishing has hit full late summer pattern. Surface temperatures of the water is 69 degrees by mid-afternoon. The Lake Trout have moved deep and can be found off the drop-offs and suspended over deeper water. The best fishing for Lakers has been early and late and when there is less boat traffic on the water, working vertical jigging presentations. Rainbows and Browns are active in the low-light periods close to shore and in the channel to Shadow Mountain on small jerk baits, small spinners, and night crawlers. Be prepared for suddenly changing weather in the afternoons. Be safe and get out and enjoy the rest of the summer! Dan Shannon, Guide

Lake Granby

Rainbows are cruising the shorelines and biting power bait and small spoons early and late in the day. Lake trout have slowed but will pick back up in a week or two. They are being caught in 60-80 feet of water. Havoc tubes tipped with sucker meat or spoons while trolling are working best.

Bernie has been guiding the middle park area for over 20 years. Please checkout www.fishingwithbernie.com or Facebook “Fishing with Bernie” for more information.

Bark Park planning underway for Granby

The Granby area may soon offer recreational amenities specifically for dogs and dog owners.

Earlier in August the Granby Board of Trustees heard a brief presentation on a proposed “Bark Park” for the Granby area. Lisa Jonas, President of Grand County Pet Palls, and Mary Ann Kersteins with Grand County Animal Control (GCAC) gave the presentation to the Board.

“We are just here to let you know how passionate we are about having this dog park,” said Pet Palls President Jonas. “We think all the benefits are not just for residents, but also for people passing through.”

Jonas informed the Board no specific site has been identified for construction of the Bark Park and the project is in the development stage. Kersteins, with GCAC echoed, her sentiments saying, “We just wanted to be here to show you how excited we are.”

While no specific plan has been formalized the tentative idea is to create a dog park somewhere within the larger Granby Trails area, the property formerly known as Shorefox, located north of US Highway 34 and Granby proper. Granby Mayor Paul Chavoustie cautioned against concrete action at this time, suggesting movement on the project wait for action from potential land parcel developers within Granby Trails.

“We need to hold off until we know what parcels developers will buy,” Chavoustie said. “The developers may chip in money for the bark park. We will have to wait until that is essentially under contract, or sold, then we will know what parcels are available.”

Pet Pals President Jonas informed the Board that Pet Pals has purchased a donation tube, seeking donations to support the construction of a dog park, which has been placed at the parking lot for Granby Trails. Jonas went on to inform the Board Pet Pals has no plans to create a temporary dog park for the remainder of the year. “We want to make sure we are thoughtfully researching,” Jonas said.

Granby Trustee Paul Robertson expressed his support for the idea but highlighted the importance of proper regulation of such dog parks. “I moved here from Indianapolis,” Robertson said. “Dog parks are huge there. One thing that is universal, although only occasionally, is enforcement; bad dogs, to put it bluntly. Someone really has to have that dialed in.”

The Board took no formal action on the bark park update.

Sanders: MPHS mountain bike team, first race, classic Winter Park rides

Our very own Middle Park High School Mountain Bike Club has their first race of the year on Saturday in Frisco. These athletes have been training very hard this summer in preparation for the five race Colorado High School Cycling League Race Series. Fortunately they have a great place to train, right here in Mountain Bike Capital USA AKA Winter Park and the Fraser Valley.

The Middle Park High School Mountain Bike Club has a wide range of athletes. As you would expect you have those who are pretty accomplished riders but there are also those riders who are just getting into mountain biking. The great thing about the Colorado High School Cycling League is that everyone is welcome to participate.

The club has been training hard. Racing a mountain bike is not just about power or bombing down the hill. You have to have the combination of endurance, power and bike handling skills. In order to improve on all of those skills training takes on a wide variety of aspects. Specific skills to improve braking, cornering and overall bike handling are practiced several times a week. This practice not only helps prepare them for racing but it allows them to become better riders and enjoy mountain biking more.

The Middle Park High School Mountain Bike Club has a distinct advantage over many other clubs racing in the series. They train on some of the best and most accessible trails in the country, which are right here in Mountain Bike Capital USA which encompasses the trails from Winter Park to Granby Ranch. The wide variety of trails is perfect to allow all levels of riders the ability to train at their skill level. Every ride has adults along to oversee the ride. As with any sport this requires quite a few volunteers to make that happen. Part of the reward is seeing the enthusiasm and excitement from everyone involved. Of course just being out on your mountain bike isn’t all bad either. I guess the downside is that as the kids get better the adults have to get better just to keep up! Join me in wishing all of the athletes of the Middle Park High School Mountain Bike Club good luck in their first race of the season!

Winter Park classic rides

Last week I was able to be ride with a couple of writers who came out to sample the trails in Winter Park, Trestle and Granby Ranch. Lee Lau and Sharon Bader are very accomplished writers who came out from the wilds of Canada to see firsthand how great the riding is here. They sampled the trails in and around the Town of Winter Park riding classics such as Leap Frog, Yankee Doodle and Idlewild. The experience had to take a trip to Trestle for some world class downhill fun. Of course it wouldn’t be complete without tossing in a day at Granby Ranch with its combination of sweet singletrack and downhill bliss as well. When you put all of those combinations together you have a mountain bike experience like nowhere else in the USA. Hundreds of miles of cross country trails and two world-class bike parks all in the same area. This gives Winter Park a distinctive marketing advantage in the world of mountain biking and outdoor recreation in general. Lee and Sharon were very impressed with the very high quality of trails immediately accessible from just about anywhere in area. As Lee Lau put it, why would anyone not come here to ride when it’s only an hour and a half from Denver. I’m excited to see the articles they write from this trip. Their enthusiasm and excitement was contagious!

A big thanks to Greg Mazu – Fraser local and owner of Single Track Trails for inviting them out. A big thanks to the Winter Park Chamber for coordinating their lodging and helping make this happen by managing many of the other little behind the line details. There are many others who made this happen as well and huge thanks goes out to all of them.

Beavers Sports Shop does a weekly group mountain bike ride every Friday at 6 p.m. from Beavers Sports Shop at the Best Western Hotel in downtown Winter Park. The ride is open to anyone of intermediate ability and above. The pace and type of trails are determined by the group. Call 970-726-5988 for more info. Looking for more information or want to get involved as a mountain biker? Like Grand Mountain Bike Alliance (GMBA) on Facebook. GMBA is your local mountain bike group. Check out Mountainbikecapitalusa.com. Great site by the Winter Park Chamber! Keith Sanders is the President of the Grand Mountain Bike Alliance, 3x US National Mountain Bike Champion and owner of Beavers Sports Shop. You can reach me at keith@winterparkskirental.com

Bean: Duck race to fund trail projects

It’s that time of year, time to get all your ducks in a row! This year, Headwaters Trails Alliance is hosting the annual Fraser Valley Duckie Race! Previously, this fundraiser was hosted by Fraser Valley Partnership for Trails (FVPT), a volunteer trail organization dedicated to writing grants, funding materials for trail projects, and serving the interests of the many trail users of the Fraser Valley. FVPT started the Duckie Race Fundraiser in 1997. This fun event was created to fund the materials for maintenance of the multi-use trails in the Fraser Valley.

For years, FVPT has been a very important part of the community with trails and outdoor recreation. In 1994, FVPT started as a volunteer organization for the Fraser Valley shortly after the first trail volunteer organization in Grand County, Grand Lake Partnership for trails. These organizations were created in order to have trail representatives for each end of Grand County. Both volunteer organizations recognized the importance of trails in Grand County, as well as their benefit towards connectivity to the different townships. Some of the wonderful accomplishments of FVPT include the construction, as well as maintenance of the Givelo Trail in Fraser, the start of National Public Lands Day in Grand County in 1995, as well as the start of Headwaters Trails Alliance in 1996.

In recognition of the need of a County-wide trails organization, HTA was formed through the efforts of Fraser Valley Partnership for Trails and Grand Lake Partnersip for Trails and with the support of the Grand County Board of Commissioners, the Grand County Planning Commission, and the individuals and groups who served on the Headwaters Trails Committee.

Headwaters Trails Alliance has become the leading trail agency in the County. It is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the advocacy of trails in Grand County. HTA’s mission is to identify, maintain, and expand an accessible, interconnecting trail system in Grand County for appropriate multi-user groups. HTA’s goals include collaborating on local, state and national levels to bring funding and other resources to Grand County for the benefit our local trail system.

In the Spring of 2016, FVPT and HTA decided to merge and combine efforts to fund trail projects and have leading roles of trail funding, management, and the maintenance of the multi-use trails throughout the entirety of Grand County.

This year, FVPT decided to turn the Duckie Race Fundraiser to HTA with the same goals of funding materials for trail projects and the further advancement of trails in Grand County.

The multi-use trails of Grand County are a huge part of the community, bringing tourism to Grand County, supporting the economy, and providing a number of different recreational activities throughout the area. The advancement of trails in the County not only provide better recreational experience for tourists and locals, but also provide a higher economic value to the townships and local businesses.

This year HTA is holding this fun event racing “duckies” down the Fraser River on Saturday, August 27. The proceeds of the duckie purchases will go directly to the trails of Grand County. Your duckie purchases are a great way to give back to the trails and support the community. With your continued support of trails throughout the County we can better enhance and support our economy, tourism and recreational experience for all trail users.

For further information on how to purchase duckies and other ways to support the local trails throughout Grand County, please contact Headwaters Trails Alliance at 970-726-1013 or email us at hta@headwaterstrails.org.