Christa comes from a small town in Colorado called Edwards. Her family, which revolves entirely around ski racing, were sucked into the Vail valley when her parents were young, and they never left. Having found their spot on a hill overlooking the White River national forest and the New York Mountains, their home is a secluded paradise that fulfills every aspect of a relaxing mountain retreat. After racing in Winter Park at the weekend, we headed to Edwards for a couple of days to catch up, say hello to family, and enjoy riding around the Aspen lined singletrack in the cool and damp weather.
After making the most of a fridge stocked with food that is only found in grown-ups houses, and abusing the on-demand coffee switch, we headed out between thunder clouds to explore the closest of the Eagle valley ski areas: Arrowhead Mountain. Whilst my childhood adventures were escaping from school to play on the beach, Christa was dragged out of school by her Dad to ski up and down Arrowhead before the lifts closed. We started out with lots of clothes on to avoid being soaked through, but soon we were roasting hot as the water evaporated off the Aspen groves.
We zigzagged up a muddy trail before traversed across to Beaver Creek and finding some great trail heading back down to the valley below. We were aiming for a previously ridden trail; the reassurance of tracked bends and known drops. But we got tempted by an unknown, unmarked turn. We took it. It snaked and weaved through close in foliage saturated with the recent rain. Soon my hands and feet were soaked through, and my clothing was plastered with seeds and leaves torn from the surrounding branches. As all was going so well, the pitch steepened, and the damp trail bed turned into a cascading brown chute dropping unnaturally steeply through the Aspens. We’d accidentally stumbled upon a renegade DH trail, and there was no turning back now. After 15 minutes of holding on for dear life, we emerged onto the originally planned trail, and life went back to normal.
For the second ride of the extended weekend, we took an easier and more well known ride up ‘Meadow Mountain’. From the motorway, we climbed steadily on a dirt road that had seen better days, until we’d left the noise of the cars behind, and all that could be heard was the rattling of branches in the gentle wind. The mountain is at a corner point in the valley; on the southern edge of the Eagle river, it offers access to the Holy Cross Wilderness further to the south, but also expansive views north up and over the Gore range.
Erika, Christa’s oldest sister came along for the ride. It was lovely to ride with two-thirds of the tribe.
The top of the climb was marked by a small ramshackle hut, obviously a life saver in the harsher months of the year. Whilst in some parts of the world, isolated buildings would get destroyed by people with no sense of community or caring, here in the mountains a shack like this is a secret treasure; as expected the inside was clean and tidy, with small stocks of dry food in the corner as well as some neatly chopped wood to get a fire started.
We stopped and took in the scenery:
When it was time to pull ourselves away from the majesty of the open meadows. we followed the narrow path in the direction gravity took us, winding in and out of tall grass and pine forest. The trail was an uninterrupted 45 minutes of curves back to the valley floor. I was hoping it wouldn’t end.