Snowshoeing at Mud Springs on Glade Park can be romantic trek
“Virginia is for Lovers” is the tourism/travel slogan of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Since 1969, it has become a well recognized part of American jargon.
Well, I’m here to tell you “Snowshoeing is for Lovers.”
Local boy Chris Smith and his beautiful Belgium-born friend Sabine de Prince believe it’s true.
I went snowshoeing with the two love-struck, fresh-air fanatics in the most romantic of places — Mud Springs, only a few miles above the Happy Valley on Glade Park.
Snow fell lightly as we drove up the road from the Glade Park Store. Once we reached our destination, the clouds parted and the sun shone brightly — at least for a few minutes.
To reach Mud Springs, take Grand Avenue over the Colorado River Bridge and turn left onto Monument Road. Travel through the Colorado National Monument’s east entrance. (You don’t have to pay the park fee if you’re going to Glade Park, but it would be nice if you could support a national monument in our own backyard).
Once you’re through the tunnel and reach the top, you’ll come to a turnoff for the Glade Park Store. It’s just past Cold Shivers Point. Turn left and go to the store, which is 14.5 miles from Fourth and Main. Turn left onto 16.5 Road. The pavement ends in another 2.6 miles, but stay on it.
This is a well-maintained dirt road, but there are a few blind curves, so watch your speed. You’ll find Mud Springs Campground about 4.2 miles past the end of the pavement. The road was expertly plowed well beyond Mud Springs, but that’s as far as we needed to go.
Don’t let the name fool you. Mud Springs is beautiful. We broke our own trail since there were no tracks before us — at least not since the last snowfall. Our snowshoes held us high in the deep powder and the campground never looked so pristine with absolutely no one else around.
At 8,000 feet in elevation, this campground is actually part of the Grand Mesa National Forest, most of which lies on the other side of the Grand Valley. Mud Springs has 14 campsites and two group areas, all situated in a lovely high mountain meadow and aspen grove.
Cooler temperatures make this a great summer escape and fishing may be found at nearby Enoch Lake or the Fruita Reservoirs. Yet, draped in deep snow, it’s gorgeous and serene and just the place for snowshoeing lovers like Chris and Sabine.
Speaking of snowshoeing, local reader and avid outdoor enthusiast Lee Gelatt wrote to say he and his wife, “...cross-country ski quite a bit around here. We’re longtime supporters of the Grand Mesa Nordic Council and their great trail grooming. We have noticed an increase in the popularity of snow-shoeing. Snow-shoers pretty much destroy ski tracks and many don’t even realize it. We thought an informative newspaper article about ski track etiquette might be helpful.”
Lee is correct that many snowshoers don’t realize they may be destroying other people’s ski tracks. If you’d kindly snowshoe beside the ski track instead of on top of it, your efforts would be greatly appreciated.
And speaking of the Grand Mesa Nordic Council, it’s hosting the Mesa State College Nordic Ski Team’s first home meet this weekend at Skyway on Grand Mesa. Schools competing include defending national champions University of Wyoming, No. 2 Western State College and the U.S. Air Force Academy.
The event actually began yesterday at the spectator-friendly Mesa State Sprints (skating style) loop at Skyway on Grand Mesa. Skiers began by skiing the 1 K course for time. Racers started individually, every 30 seconds, then based on these qualifying times they were placed into elimination rounds to determine the ultimate winner. The course features a short but steep uphill, a fast, sweeping downhill and a wide open finishing stretch for the sprint to the line.
The event continues today with the Grand Mesa Classic, a 10K classic race. This is a Grand Mesa Nordic Council-sponsored event and will feature a college category in addition to its popular citizen’s race. Start time is 11 a.m. Both events take place at Skyway on top of Grand Mesa.
I’m not sure people around here realize that these collegiate athletes are extraordinary world-class skiers, and we live at the base of one of the finest cross-country ski mountains in the northern hemisphere.
Assistant MSC coach Christie Aschwanden is extremely proud of this team.
“Anything we can do to get attention in the community is a tremendous help,” she said. “We’ve qualified three kids for nationals and are trying to do some fund raising to get them there (it’s in Maine).”
Three kids qualifying for nationals in the team’s first year.