Get Out! Part-time winter is upon us

This time of year sees biking, skiing opportunities

Late February and early March in the area offers a wide variety of activities for outdoor enthusiasts, whether mountian biking in Moab or skiing at Powderhorn.

Late February and early March in the area offers a wide variety of activities for outdoor enthusiasts, whether skiing at Powderhorn or mountain biking in Moab.

It’s “Sprinter” here in Western Colorado. You know, that time between winter and spring when we all get to choose our own adventures each weekend.

There may be snow on the Mesa, but the trails in town are clear (though they’re wet as I write this).

So each Friday, the question arises: What are we going to do this weekend?

Biking in late January and early February is always fun. A few weeks ago, we took an impromptu trip over to Moab for the weekend and managed to get in a 15-mile shuttle ride on Saturday.

Poison Spider bikes had given the all-clear for most of the trails in the area and we took full advantage, running a shuttle on the Navajo Rocks’ Chisolm, Big Lonely, Big Mesa, and Ramblin’ trails before heading into town for well-deserved pizza and libations.

If you haven’t ridden these Navajo Rocks trails, you should. They’re easier than Rocky Top or Coney Island — both on the other side of Highway 313 — and they provide lots of intermediate rock riding. The views aren’t bad either!

Sunday, we found ourselves at the mostly-deserted Brand Trails and had a great time pedaling around Lazy-EZ, Maverick and Circle O. For an introduction to Moab’s rock riding, there’s hardly a better place than the Brand Trails. They’re easily accessible, right off of Highway 191, and there’s even a kid’s pump track.

The next weekend we knew what we were doing: skiing at Monarch Mountain, a great hidden gem tucked in between Gunnison and Salida.

Tip: when driving from Gunnison to Monarch, watch for wildlife. The deer, elk, and coyotes in this area are plentiful; without exaggeration we saw 50 or more Saturday morning as we drove over to the ski hill.

Monarch is such an old-school mountain that there are no high-speed quad lifts here. In fact, there is only one quad lift for the entire resort.

The lifts here do move quickly, however, and you’d better be paying attention when it’s your turn to hop on the chair. Like Powderhorn, the more we ski Monarch, the more “secret” runs we find.

There is great tree skiing to be had here too, when the snow is good. The weekend we were there the runs were icy and one black bump run, “High Anxiety” proved itself well named. Still! This is all part of Sprinter! No matter the ski conditions, the company was good and the weekend was worth it.

This weekend we chose to again ski, but at Powderhorn. We’re die-hards and, with the occasional Moab exception, if there’s snow on the mountain, we’re skiing.

Saturday was partly cloudy with 3 new inches of heavy snow on top of spring crud. Groomers were in great shape, however, and we ripped down seven or eight before calling it a day. Sunday dawned cloudy and promised an 80 percent chance of snow.

While we were there, Mother Nature delivered a blizzard that we made it through, and there were times when I felt like I was skiing by feel simply because between the flat light and the snow covering my goggles, I couldn’t see where I was going at all.

Ah, Sprinter!

I think on a sunny day this week, I might get Frankie, my commuter bike, out of the shed and take it for a ride on the Riverfront Trail. After all, it’s the end of February and winter is only part-time now. It’s time to GET OUT and enjoy a burgeoning spring!


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