This is the second installment of a blog post series about plein air painting during our ski trip with the Mountain Collective pass. The next resort I painted at after Taos Ski Valley was Arapahoe Basin.
The drive from Taos to Silverthorne, Colorado was about 4.5 hours. Not long after driving north, we hit the Colorado border. We stopped for a selfie with the “Welcome to Colorado” sign, and Maria made some coffee by plugging in the Balbali water bottle to the outlet in the back of the 4Runner. We love National Parks, so we decided to stop at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, which was only about a 30-minute detour. We asked the park ranger what we should do during our relatively short visit, and he suggested hiking on the sand dune. So, naturally we hiked to the top of the tallest sand dune in North America, which was pretty fun, although our shoes got filled with sand multiple times. Our only regret is not renting sand surf boards. Overall, a great NP adventure!
Our destination was farther than we expected, and we ended up driving over a classic Colorado mountain pass in the dark, but we arrived safely in Silverthorne, and checked into the Luxury Inn and Suites.
In the morning we drove higher into the mountains, got our lift tickets, and hit the lifts. Driving to Arapahoe Basin, and parking was super simple. The parking lot is right at the base of the mountain, no need to take a shuttle. Lift lines were very manageable. A-Basin is a non-profit ski area, which reminded us of our beloved Arctic Valley Ski Area in Anchorage. Unfortunately, conditions were not very good — windy and icy. We went all the way to the top, which is close to 13,000 ft, and definitely started to feel the lack of oxygen at that altitude. The sun was out and the views were tremendous! We skied all over the mountain before stopping for lunch at Black Mountain Lodge. We shared a killer burger with waffle fries!
Then I decided to paint on the deck of the lodge right after lunch, while Maria made another run. I wrapped up the painting, and Maria showed me some fun runs she found, and we skied until closing, mostly around the double chair. Michael Kirkpatrick, our favorite folk singer, was also skiing in the area, and drove from Winter Park to meet us for après ski at the bar, which had a band playing! We had a couple drinks, and went out to our rigs to check out each other’s skiing equipment. Michael wants to buy some new gear, but his classic stuff seems to be in proper condition, and he said he had some good turns on the mountain after major knee surgery. I showed off my AT gear, which I should probably have left in Alaska, but I love my Black Diamond skis so much, I couldn’t go back to my old stuff. Maria drove back to Silverthorne in a snowstorm, and we got back with no delays. The storm was intense, but luckily, we didn’t have to drive anywhere for dinner, because Baker’s Brewery was right next to our hotel. Poor Michael had to drive back to Fort Collins, and got caught in traffic on I-70, and didn’t get home until almost midnight! It snowed about two inches, but the winds were high, so the next morning we decided to head straight to Basalt, nearby Aspen/Snowmass. I will talk about that next week!
Here is the little painting I painted on the mountain. You can purchase it at my Etsy shop for the price of a lift ticket at Arapahoe Basin.