I had been looking forward to this trip for a long time. We checked into a small hotel where our entire floor smelled like weed. After unpacking, we went shopping and then ate at KFC. Needless to say, it was an odd first night. The first day, we went to ski at Breckenridge, which is one of my favorite ski areas in the state. I decided to take everybody on a small hike, which gives you access to some of the peaks, where you can drop into untouched powder and rocket down the side of a bowl. It was a hard hike, but easily rewarding as we were greeted with an amazing view and endless selection of possible lines to ski. I really enjoyed skiing all day with some of my friends. That night, we basically sat at the hotel and ate snacks for dinner until we went down to the "pool" which was a 2ft baby pool, and we messed around for almost an hour. The next day we went to Copper Mountain and spent the first half of the day skiing some blues and blacks, as well as many tree runs. We eventually went to the CAT runs, which are only accessible by taking a CAT up the mountain, then hiking 2 miles to the peaks. It was a really easy hike, believe it or not, and we made it up the mountain in no time. The view from the peak was one of the best views I had ever seen in my life, and the narrow EX run was a dream of powder and trees, making it seem like the perfect winter wonderland. I really enjoyed skiing with some good friends of mine. It was an unforgettable weekend.
Since Mike was tired today I was able to go out with all the kids to ski while he stayed back with Madeline. We left a little earlier than we did the day before and made our way across the mountainside all the way over to the Two Elks Lodge area and down Poppyfields so that we could show Andrew and Abby how cool skiing is at the Blue Sky Basin. We were so happy that we didn't have to wait in a long line at the Skyline Express Lift today. Once we got to the top at Belle's Camp we got some water and went to the bathroom. Then we headed once again to the Big Rock Park run and were somewhat disappointed that they had groomed the bottom half of the run. The day before it was so powdery which made it so much fun. No big deal...we headed up Pete's Express Lift so that we could ski the runs over there. Since we had Abby, we let the boys go off and do the Revolution run while the girls tried the Star run and had the best time skiing through the BEST powder in and out of the trees. It turns out that this was the coolest place to ski. Being able to ski in the trees but then pop out onto a wider trail anytime we wanted was so much fun. The girls had fun following me in and out of the trees. Even Abby was able to keep up with me and Emma. After doing that run several times and meeting the boys at the bottom of the lift we decided to take Abby on the black Revolution run. She did really well but there were still tears since the small steep section scared her. We had fun anyways and decided to head all the way back down to the Skyline Express Lift so that we could go eat lunch at Belle's Camp. There were SO MANY PEOPLE at the top and it was hard to find a place to eat even though there was a ton of places to eat outside. The weather was actually quite warm today and so it wasn't too cold to sit outside. The boys opted to sit in the snowbanks on the outskirts of Belle's Camp while the girls and I found a few open spots at the end of one of the tables. We didn't spend too long eating but nevertheless, we enjoyed our sandwiches, chips and hot chocolate. After a decent amount of time resting and filling up our tummies, we headed out again to ski Big Rock Park and then headed over to the lifts we had been doing all morning. We did one more run with Abby through the trees on the Star run but quickly realized that she was worn out and was starting to fall apart emotionally. After quite a frustrating and slow run I left her at the Dawg Haus eating area at the bottom of Pete's Express Lift with some money for a treat and my cell phone so that she could rest while we did a few more runs. Emma and I joined the boys and decided to go down Revolution. It was as good as the day before but we were even more confident this time. The second time going down it Emma and I even tried going in some of the trees on the steep sections and then I took pictures of the kids going off the jump at the bottom of the steep section. It was a fantastic way to end our awesome day at Blue Sky Basin. After picking up Abby we all headed back to the Tea Cup Express Lift so that we could head back to Lionshead Village. On the way down the least little section I got ahead of Abby and right after I turned the corner onto the catwalk she fell. I had the sense to stop at the curve and wait but was getting worried when I didn't see her after 5 min had passed. Luckily another guy had helped her with her binding which had apparently been a little messed up. The line at the lift was a zoo by the time we got there as everyone else was heading back to the front side of the mountain. We took our usual route back to the village and when we finally made it back we couldn't find Peter until we saw him talking to one of the Ski Patrol guys. Apparently he was going too fast down the already steep and icy bottom section and got a warning. The patrol guy was nice, according to Peter, and there wasn't a fine so we just laughed about it and reminded Peter to be more careful in the slow zones at the bottom.
Today was our last day in Vail and it was another beautiful morning. Peter and Abby stayed behind to rest and help me pack up the car while Mike took Andrew and Emma out skiing in the morning. They went up the normal route from Lionshead Village and skied down Hunky Dory, which they LOVED. They said it was the best run of the day since they had just groomed it. They did Northstar before heading to the back side of the mountain. Northstar apparently was not good because the moguls were deep and ice. Once they were on the back side of the mountain and into the Blue Sky Basin, they skied down the Grand Review run and LOVED it. They also skied down the Slot run and the black Hornsilver run before heading back to meet us at Vail Village. Overall, they had a great morning and by the time we all met at 11:30 we were all ready to head home.
After getting everyone packed up and feeding everyone dinner, we loaded up the car and headed out on an epic weekend at Vail. The drive would have been pretty pleasant if only Madeline had not gotten sick twice in the car. This was the first time she had actually thrown up since being a baby and it was unpleasant for everyone in the car. Poor little thing finally fell asleep right before the Vail pass which was good because the weather started to turn nasty and it was a white knuckled drive from Vail pass to our hotel. We did make it to the Marriott's Streamside Villas safely so that was good. We bought an Encore package last year so that we could take advantage of staying at another Marriott Vacation Club without having to actually buy into their ridiculous program. After getting Madeline a bath and everyone settle we all headed to bed so that we could get up early to ski.
Waking up to freshly falling snow is a magical thing….its even better when you’re staying at one of the greatest ski resorts in the world. I stayed with Madeline at the condo, and Mike took the rest of the kids out into the wild. There was about 1 foot of fresh Colorado powder ready to play in and it continued falling all morning. No one was quite ready for how much powder there was on the slopes. It took everyone a few minutes to adjust. They headed up on a high speed quad and made their way up to the Mountaintop Express lift. Once there, the boys went off in search of steep stuff and Mike took the girls down some tamer runs to get them used to turning in powder that came up to their thighs. Abby was having a tough time, so they dropped her off at the top of the mountain in one of the restaurants. Emma and Mike then joined back up with the boys and went down Northstar which was a groovy black that had so much powder that it was hard not to giggle while skiing. After a few laps, they went back to find Abby. To their dismay, she had made friends with a bunch of older skiers and was regaling them with stories of Madeline throwing up in the car on the way to Vail. It was pretty funny. Mike left Emma there to warm up and did a few more laps around the top of the mountain with the boys. After that, they grabbed the girls (who were warmed up with hot chocolate and brownies) and headed to meet me at the bottom of Vail Village. They took Riva’s run, which is a great black run all the way down to Vail Village. This involved the infamous tourist trap which is a steep and pitchy black run. Abby handled it like a champ. In all, it was an amazing morning with killer freshies on amazing snow.
After meeting everyone and switching at the car, we took Gondola One from Vail Village while the older three kids ate their lunch on the way up. From the top of the Gondola we got right on the Mountaintop Express Lift. The kids took me on the black Northstar run and the blue Northwoods run. There was so much powder that I was really having a hard time skiing with good form. It took a few runs just to get the hang of it. Between the intense powder, the low visibility, and the snow that was falling, it was a harder ski day for me than for the kids. On the way back down the mountain we took Ramshorn and Upper Lions Way to get back to Lionshead Village where we caught the shuttle back to our condo at the Marriott.
After a snowy start to our ski vacation we were all eager to get up this morning to hit the slopes with fresh powder. Since Andrew wasn't feeling well and Abby was too tired to ski, we left them back at the room with Madeline. Mike, Emma, Peter, and I headed to the Gondola at Lionshead Village and made our way towards the Blue Sky Basin which Mike and my favorite place to ski when we were here a few years ago. From the top of the Gondola we headed down the Game trail to take the Game Creek Express Lift up. Since Vail is such a big mountain it took us a little while to get all the way over to the east side of the mountain before dipping into the back side. First we took Hunky Dory down to the Mountaintop Express Lift. This was such a cool run with the freshest powder we have ever skied in. It was a nice treat after walking on mostly flat terrain for 5 minutes from the top of the lift to the top of this run. Peter, Emma, and I took a short mogul run off of the main trail and met up with Mike at the bottom and then headed down to our next lift. From the top of Mountaintop Express Lift we took the Timberline Catwalk all the way to the Sourdough Express Lift. This is probably one of the only catwalk trails that is actually fun to ride. It is nestled between a wall of trees on both sides. With the trees covered in all white it was quite a site to behold. Finally, at the top of the Sourdough Lift we were able to pop on over to the backside of the mountain. We took the Poppyfields run all the way down to the Skyline Express Lift which takes you up to the top of the Blue Sky Basin. It took us about 1 hour from the start of our day to get to the top of Blue Sky Basin and it was TOTALLY WORTH IT...even with the 15-20 min it took to get on the Skyline Express Lift up to Belles Camp. We took the kids down a little bit of Cloud 9 until we reached Pete's Bowl and skied down Big Rock Park. This run is like zigging and zagging in and out of beautiful giant trees. It is a hoot of a run to ski. After getting to the bottom we spent the majority of our morning going up Pete's Express Lift to ski Resolution which was the coolest black between Big Rock Park and Grand Preview. Emma and I were a little nervous at first but it turned out to be very doable, especially with lots of great powder. It was so fun to be able to ski where there weren't a lot of people and to try and perfect our skills of getting in and around powdery moguls. We spent most of our morning in this area of the mountain before heading back up the Skyline Express Lift to Belles Camp to eat lunch. We said goodbye to Mike while he headed back to see if the other two kids want to go out and ski. Peter, Emma, and I had lunch at the hut at the top of Belle's Camp. We split a sandwich, chips, hot chocolate and a treat and after that we were ready to hit the slopes again. We spent another 2 hours doing more of the same runs before making our long trek back to Lionshead Village. It was such a fabulous ski day with the most perfect weather conditions and lots of powder to ski on.
Skin on! Today we got to ski with the cousins. Jake and Josh came with us up to Park City. Mike was able to get them a military discount, so the lift tickets were more reasonable. We cruised some blues at first, then Andrew, Peter, Jake and I headed up to the double blacks again. It was just as much fun this time as it was the first time. Peter and I were a little more confident this time. Mike, Josh, and the girls explored every run they could find on the mountain. They had a ton of fun. Their favorite run was definitely Assessment. It was long, flowy, and the snow was great. The worst was Parley’s Park which was a total sheet of ice. We all met up for lunch at Miner’s Cabin again. Everyone had sandwiches and of course a brownie which was really, really good. Then off for an afternoon of hitting it hard. I think the favorite run was the black run which was moguls, but just right (Sampson). Too bad the lift that services it was so slow. At the end of the day, Mike found these great hand made doughnuts that you dip in chocolate and then add your own toppings….they were possibly the best doughnuts of all time. It might have been the best way to end a great day. We were so grateful to be able to ski and to be together as a family. Families that ski together, stay together…or at least meet at the bottom of the run at some point.