The Ranch2Ranch Trek Saturday Feb 11 and Sunday Feb 12 was about as spectacular as you can get! Bluebird skies with temperatures in the high 20’s and virtually no wind…. How close to perfect can we spoil you with?
Groomers Shawn and crew from Snow Mountain Ranch had set beautiful track in well-prepped trails from the SMR Nordic Center out the Pole Creek Valley and turning uphill on Audun with its delightful well-signed switchbacks gently climbing to the top of the ridge. The quickly -growing trees each year provide more and more protection from weather but nothing could hide the beautiful 360 vistas from the top of the ridge. Then came the exhilaration of the sweeping turns descending to the valley floor and meandering thru the NSCD Riding Center and out to Tim’s Tunnel, the Hwy 40 underpass at the Y entrance. Follow the pink signs!!
Ah the aid station. Smiling faces belonging to volunteers offering banana pieces, orange slices, cookies, and energy bars. Do you want warm water or Gatorade? Warm? Great touch… Stop for a few moments and feel your energy return. On Saturday the Winter Park Comp Center kids in their colorful World Snow Day bibs manned the aid station and skied back and forth from the aid station to the SMR Nordic Center, a colorful sight along the trail. On Sunday the Middle Park High School Nordic team manned the station to meet the people that were donating to the Grand Nordic Youth Scholarship Fund by skiing the Ranch2Ranch Trek.
Take off again before others arrive to take their break. Groomers had pushed snow to Tim’s Tunnel the week before and it was filled with white snow. Snow from the surrounding fields was pushed into the tunnel where possible since HTA’s groomer can fit thru the Tunnel and Charlie and Diana Rau completed the job with shovels and sleds. Dedication! A hard job indeed but it will last for weeks.
Up the hill to the campground and then down the scariest of hills on the Fraser to Granby Trail with its sharp left turn in the 10mile Creek Valley. Take your skis off and walk down if you want. It’s just a fun trek… The beavers have invaded the creek beside you and created beautiful pockets of vegetation mixed with pools of water that invited other critters like moose and deer and waterfowl in warmer times of the year.
Now the expanse of Granby Ranch approaching Val Moritz is laid out before you. Years ago when it was Silver Creek, we used to Nordic race these trails that are now Granby Ranch. The Val Moritz area is still a secluded development but is no longer filled with vacant foundations with full grown trees sprouting in the cement. Instead beautiful homes dot the upper, middle and lower roads that we once raced on. In summer the Fraser to Granby Trail winds through the vegetation and across the slopes of the West Mountain as it heads toward Granby..
Head up the long hill to another 360 vista point and across to the Nordic trails of Granby Ranch. From the sharp corner of Grenoble St in Val Moritz head up to the base of Rabbit Run and the Green Gate and the second aid station. From this course highpoint, it is so fun skiing back to Tim’s Tunnel – consider even turning around and skiing back to SMR from here or the juncture with the Alpine trails. Where did you park your car? At Granby Ranch and take the morning shuttle provided to SMR for the start? Or park at SMR and turn around anywhere on the course you feel like? It’s your choice. Just follow the pink signs that line the trail providing directions and warning of steep hills or hazards. Getting off the trail might put you into a snowbank or in deeper untracked powder up to your hip this year.
The second aid station was manned on Saturday by East Grand Middle School Nordic Team members and Sunday by MPHS CREW members. These are all kids who benefit from the Youth scholarship fund and this way people get to meet the youth they are supporting.
Into the trees again on Cakewalk, a narrower beautiful glide down a tree-lined path leading to the Alpine trails. SMR groomers could bring their big cat over to this point but over to the Alpine trails it’s definitely a kickback to older-style trails and beautiful scenery groomable only by snowmobile. Granted it’s more difficult for skaters but their treat is ahead where Deer trail is blocked off above and the Nordic skiers have the entire alpine slope to themselves all the way down to Granby Lodge base area and finish tent. We made it and turned in our bibs at the Grand Nordic finish tent to signal we were off course…
Skiers were challenging themselves for the distance and the intermediate terrain and all of them would win. They challenged themselves to support the Youth Nordic programs in Grand County and our kids were the winners. Every school and pre-school in East Grand has received ski equipment so our kids could grow up on Nordic skis or receive financial help to train at the level they want… Every one of those skiers at the Ranch2Ranch Saturday and Sunday helped that cause. We thank you one and all – the Grand Nordic Board, the staff at Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center, HTA and Granby Ranch, the dedicated groomers, and most of all our volunteers and skiers.
Race Profile, by participant Cyndie Saffell:
- Ranch 2 Ranch One way, 2/12/23
- Distance: 6.6 mi (about 11km)
- Time: 02:08:46
- Ascent: 496.0 ft
- Min/Max Altitude: 8,417.0 ft, 8,813.4 ft