Buff in the Boat: A Steamboat extravaganza!

July in Colorado, especially in the Denver area, is typically dry, hot and a bit browned out. The past two weekends have been spent, in the heat, around Denver, so when I recently found this blog draft about our adventures last July, where we took to the mountains, I jumped on reliving our adventure.

Last July, we headed to Lake Dillon when my dad came to visit from Philadelphia, to play in the cooler air and boat on the lake….

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Swan Mountain, Breckenridge

Lake Dillon, Dillon Colorado

Boating on Lake Dillon!

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After our 18 mile bike ride – Broken Compass Brewery!

 

…then Crested Butte with friends, to bike and hike the heck out of this gorgeous area. I really feel we’ve made the most out of the summer months thus far, trying to experience different mountain towns and the unique beauty in all of them. The last weekend in July was meant to be spent in Salida, a beautiful town Mike and I had spent time in a few weeks prior, but rain threatened the areas in the southern mountain ranges….no bueno! When Steamboat Springs, 3 1/2 hours North West of Denver, was offered up by our crew, we immediately boarded the train to mountain town!

Our girlfriend Stacia is a teacher, so with school still out for the summer, her and two other friends set off early on Friday to set up shop on Buff pass, an area 20 minutes or so outside of Steamboat that boasted beautiful views and dispersed camping. Score!

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Buff pass, Steamboat Springs Colorado

 

Mike and I headed out on Friday, July 28th after work, pulling up to a pretty amazing view of the valley. These girls really knew how to scout a campsite! The area was crowded with campers, with cars rolling by our spot until late in the evening, so we thanked them profusely for reserving such a money location!

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Taking in the views on Buff Pass, Steamboat Colorado

 

After pitching tents and cracking beers, we decided to head into town for the free concert happening in town. The Wood Brothers were playing and we rolled into the festival after a bite to eat, ready to jam out. They were amazing, soulful and poetic with beautiful guitars that mesmerized our buddy McFadden, who had rolled into town a bit later and met us at the base of the mountain where the festival took place. It was a wonderful night!

Wood Brothers, Steamboat SpringsOur Crew at the Festival!

The rest of our crew, Nicole and Dusty, rolled up to the campsite around 10, after we had settled in from the show.  The campfire welcomed them with open arms.

The morning broke and Winnie and I were up early, wanting to explore. Ok, she wanted to explore and dragged my arse out of bed. Little Scallywag! After I made some coffee though, I was extremely pleased with the quiet morning that I was privy to, and we explored the area together, wandering through the wildflowers and down the Buff Trail. What a gift to be here in this beauty!

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Winnie and I exploring Buff Pass Trail

Wildflowers in Steamboat Colorado

The rest of the campers began to stir, so Winnie and I headed back to camp to start breakfast and decide the plan for the day. The boys (Dusty, Mike and McFadden) wanted to mountain bike, so the ladies decided to head out for a hike. But first, campfires and guitar solos…

Breakfast scramble: peppers, tofu, hashbrowns & veggie sausage!
Breakfast Scramble: Peppers, tofu, hash browns & veggie sausage!

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What a lovely, relaxed morning. Really, this is what the mornings on weekends should entail….great friends, beautiful views, exploring, soft guitar music strummed by McFadden, scrumptious breakfast!

But alas, it was time to make moves, so the guys headed out on bikes, the girls to the hills, with a plan to meet in town later. Two cars were driven down from the Buff, so guys had the luxury of taking the buff pass trail all the way into town. What service we provide!

The ladies headed to a popular spot, Fish Creek Falls, and when the parking lot was completely full, we had to make a game time decision to hike elsewhere. When in Steamboat in the summer, hike up the damn mountain!

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We parked & headed up to a glorious trail with a bit of everything: uphill climbs, aspen groves, great views and buena vistas, shots of the gondolas, shady groves to protect us from the beating sun….a great little 5 mile out and back trail that left us sweaty and satisfied.

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Hiking in Steamboat!
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Views of Steamboat
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Gondolas in Steamboat

Heading down the hill was a bit rough on my knee (since the ACL injury, I’ve had a tough time hiking, but trying to push it!) but we made it down and heard from the guys just as we got to the car. Perfect timing! They were headed into town for post post-biking beers, and our group was just as thirsty from the climb, so we headed into town.

The town of Steamboat sat right on the edge of the Yampa river, a beautiful backdrop to have lunch. The group decided on Sweet Pea Restaurant, the cutest little farm to table spot ya ever did see. Happy hour beers flowed, veggie goodness was ordered and we chowed down after a day of adventure!

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Steamboat crew!

 

Steamboats’ Strawberry hot springs were calling our name, but before we headed to steam, we popped into Sunpie’s Bistro, a super heady lunch spot right along the river. A perfect ending to our mountain activity.

Next stop: Strawberry Hot Springs! We soaked, we steamed, we waited in line quite a bit to get in and drank some tailgate beers. It was fabulous and such a relaxing afternoon. Heading back to the campsite that evening, we sang Kenny Loggins into the night.

The next day, we mountain biked our hearts out – Stacia and I heading down an easier trail, while the boys headed out for the harder one.

Flowing through aspens, gorgeous scenery, wildflowers, I had a smile plastered on my face for the whole downhill. Until I popped a tire….and didn’t have a spare tube. Huge lesson learned to never leave on a Colorado adventure without extra supplies!

A kind man and wife team stopped close to the entrance to the trail to lend me a tube, just in time to see Mike ride up from town with a fresh  tube to give back to the man.

Steamboat Gang

Kindness is all over the mountains. After a quick lunch, we headed on our way home, with lots of memories tucked away.

Adventures in France: Day Six

Day six in France (March 7th) with overcast skies and flurries, something we didn’t mind in the least. Our team was ready to ski, so we suited up and headed to Le Brevent again – but would take the Gondola over to Le Flegere, a different part of the French Alps. The weather and visibility wasn’t as good as Day cinq at Le Brevent but it was still a wonderful day, full of off-piste exploration.

We hiked to the bowls, traversed over to rock edges, really got our fill of the mountain, despite the poor vis – our ski gang really made the most of it.

We skied Le Brevent for awhile, then headed in the gondola over to Flegere, the peak that’s directly next to Le Brevent, Our tickets got us access to both sides, so we figured we’d give it a whirl.

After we had our fill, we headed back to our chalet, changed and headed back out for Apres at a bar that had American paraphernalia all over; pack-man, back to the future posters, 80’s jams on the stereo, Bar Dup.

It was great! Knowing that we’d be going big the next day, skiing Valee Blanche with a guide, we headed to the store for supplies and headed back home to eat a gorgeous French lasagna and headed to bed early.

Adventures in France: Day Cinq in Le Brevent

Sunny, mountain views, skis unzipped from their carrying cases. It was Wednesday, Day 5,  and we were ready to ski the French Alps! After yesterday’s travel day, a great nights’ sleep, and some delicious fried eggs made by Kristi, the gang was ready to ski. Our house in Chamonix was perfectly located near the SUD (the Bus depot) but the Gondola that would take us to Le Brevent didn’t seem to be very far, so we decided to walk up.

Well, dang, it was a lot further than we thought, with the last 500 feet pretty steep.

But, we made it and it was a nice little warmup! And warm it was – spring was in the valley and we wondered what conditions at the top would be like.

The gondola shot us straight up, past the dirt patched trails, up and over the top and we finally saw snow!

At the top of the gondola, the views were spectacular and the massive Mont Blanc could be seen as clear as day. Breathtaking! We had been doing our snow dances prior to the trip, but I have to say I was incredibly grateful for the bluebird day, which allowed for the mountain views.

The afternoon was spent exploring the mountain, avoiding the European Jerry skiers (they seem to Cover the whole mountain when turning, going from one side ALL the way over to the other, so can be quite challenging to pass on cat tracks!) and frolicking off-piste.

We found stashes all over, all though the conditions were a bit varied, so I played it safe and skied in an aggressive, deliberate stance. It was an absolutely amazing day.

The mountains are extremely different in Europe, with limited boundaries, ski patrol or signs telling you where you shouldn’t be going. The resort Le Brevent had all kinds of skiers on the mountain as well – from beginners to extremists and most runs had a few of each on them. Except for the off-piste runs, where only a few brave souls would follow the ‘off-the-beaten path’ to ski the goods. These proved to be some of the best runs.

After several hours, we all agreed it was time to refresh ourselves with some lunch and beverages. Kieran left to go meet Kristi in town and Dusty, Mike, Holly and I headed to the coolest lunch spot I’ve ever been to at a mountain resort.

Le Panoramic had breathtaking views of Mont Blanc and we were happy to enjoy Apres with the views.

The day had been delicious and we decided to head down to the village to meet our group. Two other good friends, Zach and Tim, would be arriving in Chamonix, completing the Chamonix gang. We dropped our skis back at the chalet and headed to our second Apres of the day. But first, Mike stopped at a local boot shop, Sole, to get an assessment on his current set up, which was giving him quite a bit of discomfort. A London bloke hooked him up and told him to pick the boots up in 30 minutes. Gotta love a ski town!

Through the glorious town, we wandered to meet the new crew, and the night unfolded beautifully!

Drinks in back rooms filled with cozy sheepskin couches, fancy cocktails, and old Chamonix posters.

Dinner and fondue at La Moraine, a quaint French restaurant with warm ambiance and delicious cheese!

The night continued with sexy drinks at Le Cave, a nightclub under a beautiful restaurant with pulsating music and a groovy vibe. Chamonix did not disappoint us!