This is the year of being the best version of myself. I’m not totally sure what’s gotten into me, but in the last few weeks I’ve gone cross country skiing with my husband at the West Elk Trails, went snowboarding together at Sunlight Mountain Resort, and have been doing non-stop research into affordable second-hand gear.
I want to make the most out of every single day, and give myself a chance to truly embrace the beautiful area I live in. Out of the blue, I decided to take the next step in my journey: a mid-day cross country ski excursion.
Why? I work from home, it’s been gorgeous outside after a recent Colorado Snowmageddon experience, and honestly…why not?
Solo Trip Number 1
For my first ever solo cross country trip, I drove about 45 minutes from home to Carbondale’s Spring Gulch Trail System. This is a well-known and loved Nordic area that has lots to offer skiers of all levels.
The entire system includes 13.13 miles (21+ kilometers) of trails, which are marked into three categories: green (easy), blue (intermediate), and black (advanced).
When it comes to a solo trip, you have to be careful—you’re on your own, in nature. This is a big reason why I chose Spring Gulch as my location. It’s established and there’s a high chance that there will be others nearby. Granted, I mostly felt alone and incredibly peaceful, but there were two or three other cars in the parking lot. For future solo trips, I will definitely be going to Spring Gulch.
Note: busyness will vary depending on days and times. Weekends get busier, plus after-school and work hours. I went at about 3 p.m. and there was almost no one else.
One of the easiest options is the green Lazy Eight Loop, which is perfect for me as I practice and get more confident on my three pin skis.
Lazy Eight Loop
My run on the Lazy Eight Loop was quick yet effective. It’s a green, so it was perfect for me to do a quick lap, about 1.18 miles in length, to get more comfortable on my skis. I’m definitely a beginner, and it felt like this flat, scenic route is perfect for me as I learn the basics.
The next time I’m at Spring Gulch, I will definitely start out on Lazy Eight Loop again before moving on to a new trail.
Driving into Carbondale (Highway 133), take the first exit at the first roundabout, before the City Market, onto Main Street. This street turns into County Road 108. All you need to do is stay on this road until the end, about 6 miles.
Note: Keep going. I second-guessed myself and turned prematurely. You’ll know when you get there—you truly can’t miss it.
My Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars
Goggles: Smith Optics
Skis/Boots: Second-hand vintage 3-pin, brands unknown
Backpack: Thule Stir 18L Hiking Backpack
Water bottle: Vapur Flexible Water Bottle
Clothing layers: Benboy women’s ski pants, Stoic Aspen Fleece Jacket, HFX fleece long-sleeve baselayer, Eddie Bauer trail tight, Columbia Softshell Jacket
Length: About 1.18 miles
Usage: Light – heavy, depending on time of week
Trail types: Groomed, loop
Map: Sign at the trailhead, or available online
Activities: Cross country skiing only
Notes: Be sure to check out springgulch.org for grooming updates and conditions before you go! Also, note that dogs are not allowed on the trails.