It has been slow coming but we finally have good snow at Nordic areas in the Valley.  The high country has been accumulating snow sporadically which means there are layers – layers that are loosely connected and therefore prone to avalanches.  Unless you are experienced in that avalanche lingo, please consider getting comfortable in the lower areas and live to explore another season.

Even the pandemic has been loosening its clutch on our lives as the vaccines are starting to roll out and active cases overall are dropping.  People are realizing that masks and social distancing really do work and health regulations, although sometimes seeming harsh, are there for a reason. Thank you, Grand County for helping keep our County open!  Grand Nordic was able to hold their Annual Ranch2Ranch Trek in early February and, despite the horrendous wind, over 125 people spread over two days and several hours trekked to raise money for equipment and scholarships for our local kids and families.

One of those programs, the Free Friday Kids Program at Snow Mountain Ranch during January and February has been ongoing since the 1980’s.  Grand Nordic was able to shorten the number of programs and limit the number of kids each day but it was a total success!  We averaged about 25 kids broken into 5 groups and the instructors were patient and incredible.  Some of been working with this program for over 20 years!  I’ve watched some of these kids graduate from college with Nordic honors…  Kids and parents assisting the program were given trail passes and equipment each Friday by Snow Mtn Ranch.  Friday was our annual Nordic Festival and we had short races for the little ones and long races for the older kids as well as slalom challenges, soccer games and games like sharks and minnows.   Everyone won a prize donated from the SMR Nordic Center, Christy Sports, and B Jamin.  Brownies and hot chocolate or cider was a big hit since it was another windy day!  But the kids plugged on – thank you to parents and instructors for making the whole thing happen!

Annual Snow Mtn Ranch Stampede  13-14 March 2021

Those kids all learned about the free kids 2k races that are a part of the upcoming Snow Mtn Ranch Stampede on the 13 and 14 March.  The whole family can get involved – the Saturday FREESTYLE races start with kids 15 and under at 9am, and then adults have a window of 930am to 1030am to start anytime.  Same schedule applies for the Sunday CLASSIC races.  Some lucky kid is going to win a great big stuffed bear each day but all kids get prizes for finishing.  Adults can register on for a 10K, 25K or 50k race – and individual times will be recorded based on their self-selected start time. Pick up your packet at the Nordic Center pass window between 4-6p Friday or after 830am Saturday and Sunday.  Check in at the timing shack and let them know you are ready to start – your bib tells what race you are in!  Enjoy the fabulous trails and beautiful vistas if you can spare the time to look around… legendary trails like Heckman, Gaskill, Young, Cranmer, Lynch – names matching old time legends in the Nordic community.  Demanding uphills, awesome downhills and plenty of room to just let it fly…  Because of the self-staggered start, you are racing against the clock!  At my age, I like to stop at the viewpoints and just stare at the mountains…  At least there is a 70+ group among the 10-year age groups.

As if that wasn’t enough, combine the two days for a total workout!   My heroes!  Imagine skiing 50km one day (that’s over 31 miles!) and then turning around and doing it again the next day.  This is the ONLY opportunity in the country to be able to ski either 50K Skate Race Saturday and 50K Classic Race Sunday or do both days.  You can do 25K or 10K instead.  Earn a Ranch Hand 50K belt buckle for completing 25K each day or BE THE BOSS completing 50K each day and receive a 100K Ranch Boss buckle! For those who want to see how far 25K really is, just tour the course for 25K untimed but benefit from aid station support and expert grooming.  The course is phenomenal if the wind, new precipitation and temperature don’t spoil the grooming.  Nothing can detract from the scenery… and 37 years of the highest marathon in the country!  I know – I first skied the race in 1984!

This year, I think I’ll help at the aid station next to the Nordic Center and watch the racers as they finish the 10K, lap at 17.5K, lap or finish at 25K, lap at 37.5K or finish at 50K.  Great spot to watch all the excitement!  Bring your own cow bell and be prepared to cheer on your favorites from under your mask.  Overall awards start at 130p at the Nordic Center plus 1-2 in each 10-year age class.  Age class winners can pickup their awards between 2-5pm.  Visit and click on activities,  Nordic and scroll down to races and events to get the full scoop and register for one or more Stampede events. Or click here.  On-line registration closes Friday March 12 at noon.

See you at the Stampede!