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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Whitewater Rafting- Poudre Canyon (5/24/2013)

In-laws in town so we decided to take a rafting trip down the Poudre Canyon. What an amazing journey! We went through A1 Wildwater Rafting here in Fort Collins and they did a great job. Instructed everyone on the do's and don'ts of whitewater rafting. They made us feel safe and confident and set us up for success. The trip was the "Wild & Scenic" trip which they offer and is described as:

 "nothing short of incredible! It’s a wild ride on world class whitewater as it churns its way down a deep mountain canyon, just as it has done for millions of years. The river runs clear and free and is never crowded, unlike most of the rivers in Colorado, and the rapids are almost continuous for the entire length of the trip. This trip traverses the National Wild & Scenic portion of the river and is the best single stretch of rafting wildwater on the river. This is a challenging trip for those people looking for an exciting ride. We take lots of first time rafters on this trip as well as experienced rafters but people going on this trip should be healthy, fit, have good swimming ability, and be able to paddle heartily. Class II, III, IV, and at times class IV+ rapids punctuate our dialogue with the river."

I will admit I thought it was going to be a leisurely stroll on the water... Anything but the case, so be ready for a work-out! You will have your hands full with paddling so you won't be able to take many photos and besides, you don't want your camera getting soaked. You will definitely get wet, which reminds me, if you don't have your own, spring for the waterproof shoes they offer you for an upcharge. I decided to be a man about it and not wear them... Holy shit that water is cold. Big mistake on my part. No doubt you will be enjoying the splendor of the views and the thrill of the ride, but your vessel will be covered in water within about 60 seconds. Additionally, water gathers in the boat so your feet are siting in ice cold water that was snow a few hours earlier! Also, bring a change of clothes and a towel unless you want to bet sitting it a sopping wet-suit when you get out and not just for a couple minutes but for the duration of the trip back to Fort Collins on the bus.

Check out their website:

Horsetooth Falls, Horsetooth Moutain Open Space 5/29/2013

Location: Horsetooth Falls (Horsetooth Mountain Open Space)
Date: 5/29/2013
How far we went: 2.4mi (Round trip)
Elevation reached: 5800ft
Weather: Sunny, warm. 

A short hike to the falls from the parking lot is simple for anyone that can walk. You can traverse down to where the falls lands or you can hike up where pool forms above. Some really nice views to and from and make sure you try to catch it during the snow melt! I've seen people swimming in these pools/water but I'm not sure if it's actually allowed or not. Jump in at your own risk, I suppose. $6 to for a daily pass so don't forget your wallet! For more info on this hike, visit it's Trail Wiki.

Loveland Ski Area, Loveland Basin, Colorado 1/9/2014

Lift Hours: 9am 4pm (M-F), 8:30am - 4pm (weekends)
Elevation Base - 10,800 ft (3292 m)
Summit - 13,010 ft (3965 m)
Lift-served - 12,700 ft
Vertical - 2,210 ft (674 m)
Ski Area: 1,570 acres
Hikeable Area: 100 acres
Average Snowfall: 422 in (10.7 m)

Made my first trip to Loveland Ski Area a few weeks ago to check out how it is. If you're coming from I-70 East/Denver it it the first skiing area you will come to during your beautiful drive on the nation's highest interstate. This is my review and I hope most can find it helpful!

The trip: Driving on I-70 can be a complete nightmare in the winter. Rock slides, ice, heavy snowfall, and ridiculous wind gusts are all possible when heading through the high-country. Even if you plan your trip accordingly you can still hit a snag in traffic which can easily ruin a nice day on the slopes. Make sure to leave enough time for you to properly park your vehicle, get into your gear, use the restroom, etc. After you've planned your route check the weather and road reports. If they're calling for multiple inches of snow, leave early. Also make sure you have plenty of snacks if you get stuck on the road and of course, make sure you have the proper equipment should you have a break down. You do not want to be unprepared in the high country. As you very well know, shit happens

Rentals: As the early bird gets the worm, this philosophy should be your plan of attack should you need rental gear. The process went pretty smoothly. You fill out your info on a computer then take a space in the line where they will look up what info you just typed in under your name. The staff was pretty friendly, my friend and I were suited up in no time, however, my wife had some issues with the staff telling her she did not need two pairs of socks. She insisted that it was cold as shit and she did but the gentleman told her she was a specific boot size and that two pair of socks would not be appropriate. I have never heard this before but it bothered my spouse as her feet were frozen 2 runs in. So all in all helpful and friendly, but I did find the sock issue quite odd.

Slopes: As a novice, I enjoyed what Loveland Ski Area had to offer, especially when compared with Eldora Ski Resort in Nederland, CO (About 20 miles up Boulder Canyon). There were an ample amount of runs/lifts opened and their groomed runs felt just fine to me. I don't do anything more difficult than a Black Diamond, so I can't speak for some of the more extreme runs. There are plenty of variations in terrain and plenty of my personal favorite, trees!

Cons: A lot of the runs were in the shade all throughout the day which turned to ice very quickly. This is exacerbated by some of the grueling winds. The lifts were a little slow/dated and the slopes were a little crowded towards midday, but what can you really expect during a Friday in the middle of peak season? 

Overall: All-in-all don't let any of the cons deter you. Loveland Ski Area is a great place to visit from Denver and it's relatively affordable. If you are debating visiting Eldora or this place, definitely take the trip to Loveland Basin. You won't get bored as there will be plenty of runs for those of all skill levels. If you're a novice like me, or are just on the Front Range for a few days and want to experience high country skiing then this is the place for you. 

Getting excited yet? 

"The Ridge" on the Continental Divide. 

Ski Dubai. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Okay, I'll cut to the chase. If you ski on a regular basis you'll want to avoid Ski Dubai. Like many things in the Emirates, it is strictly a novelty. Oh! Oh! Snow in the desert!... Yeah, snow in the desert... Made by machines... Sprayed into a giant building with an incline you ski down. More meh than "Modern Marvel."

Now if you haven't been on the slopes before and you have some cash and time to burn in Dubai (who doesn't?) then this is the perfect place to go spend a few hours. If you don't have anything to wear? Don't worry, included in the cost of admission is a ski-suit and all your gear. You'll have to buy a hat and gloves though. Trust me, it's a giant freezer and you'll want them.

The run is basically a short green with a branch that is claimed to be a blue that diverts for a good 25 yards to a dip then converges with the original path. It's about 5-7 minutes up the lift and about a minute to a minute and a half coming down. There is also tubing and a play area for kids, but again... It's the type of place you want to go to once for a few hours if you're on vacation. My experience was paid for by the government of the Emirates so that's how I found myself here. So that's what the official advice is: Go... But only if someone else is paying and you don't have anything better to do. :)