As I was ascending the switchbacks on the Fraser to Granby Trail in the 10 Mile Creek area with the summer sun beating on my back and my throat dry, my mind wandered to very different circumstances in February of this year.
Grand Nordic staged the inaugural Ranch2Ranch Nordic Trek on the 2nd Saturday in February with close to 100 people Nordic skiing from the top of Granby Ranch connecting to the Fraser to Granby Trail, through Tim’s Tunnel and into the YMCA front meadows, moving onto the dogs trails and into the Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Ski Center. The weather was cold but got up to the 20s. The harsh thing was the wind blowing snow sideways and making the trail difficult to find.
The hardy backcountry skiers doing the Trek were matter of fact – this was typical Colorado weather. In protected areas, the skiing was delightful with fresh snow from the weeks before. Granby Ranch staff had been amazing to work with, from publicity and getting out the word, from the check-in at the base lodge and lift tickets up the East Side chair to the top — to prepping their Nordic trails down to Val Moritz and the connector Trail built by John Brammer and Grand Nordic. FVPT-HTA volunteers groomed from the protected East Mountain trails to the Fraser to Granby to Tim’s Tunnel and into the YMCA fighting to keep stakes visible for the skiers to find the groomed path. If you got off track you fell into bottomless snow and Grand Nordic didn’t want to lose anyone.
The YMCA had the toughest part of the Trek and had to reroute the course at the last minute to more protected areas. This meant a trail of soft snow and moving the markings that had been in place for a couple of weeks – the whole end was a total new scramble but everyone was much safer and happier in the long run. Aid stations staffed by the Kuhn family and the Barker family plus a few other volunteers were a welcome sight and the groomers were constantly out checking and rechecking on skier progress. We couldn’t have done without the Brian Mountain Patrol medical personnel and sweep. Not a single person turned back lost in the windy nasty conditions and Brian Mountain brought the last ones home to SMR where all volunteers were treated to and racers could purchase a wonderful BBQ lunch.
SMR staff checked in and accounted for everyone and were amazed at the great comments that racers felt taken care of by everyone involved, loved most of the course, and most will come back next year! Our thanks to Wenda Huseman, Amy Buzhardt, Jamie Wolter, Kyle Harris, Audrey in reservations and groomer Pete Teicher among others at Granby Ranch for their great cooperation, HTA-FVPT groomers John Brammer, Charlie and Diana Rau, and Greg Foley for the Fraser to Granby portions, the YMCA Nordic Director Tom Merkt and Shawn and Charlie, chief SMR groomers, plus the Grand Nordic Board members Mike and Kelley, Al and Toni, Stephen and Chris, Sean Dee, and Tim and Tina for their constant work and ideas. Hats off to the many other valuable volunteers that I haven’t named. We hope to organize a Nordic Trek series in the next year or two with Devil’s Thumb.
Meanwhile back to the heat, check out the best of Downhill and Cross-country mountain biking on many of the same trails at Granby Ranch. You can ride up on your bikes or purchase single day or season lift tickets to get to the mountaintop and spend hours meandering down the Alpine and Nordic trails. Saturday is the second in the fun, family-friendly Gears and Beers Enduro Race series. Check out the website www.granby ranch.com/bike-granby-ranch for more details, maps and prices or call 970-887-3384.