Love dogs? Love cross-country skiing? Gold Run Nordic Center in Breckenridge, Colorado allows you to combine both. For a Christmas present, my wife bought me a 2-for-1 Groupon to go cross-country skiing at a number of nordic centers in the area. As I was researching them I discovered that Gold Run allows dogs on one of their trails. Off we went on a recent Saturday with our faithful companion Luna to try it out.
We thought that we might need to keep Luna on a leash and had been warned when we checked in at the lodge that moose frequent the area so we should do off-leash at our own risk. However, as we drove up to the parking area for the Gold Run trails, we saw several dogs off-leash as their owners geared up. So after gearing up ourselves, we headed out after them.
Luna was in heaven, criss-crossing the trail and bounding through the deep snow on either side. She stayed within our sight though, and we never saw a moose or any other animal, except one squirrel in a tree. The only time she was tempted to chase anything was when one skier surprised her coming fast downhill around a corner. But she quickly obeyed our commands and stayed out of his way. Of course, she played with the other dogs briefly when we passed them and had to be encouraged to keep moving. But overall she did remarkably well.
The Peabody Placer trail at Gold Run started out gently enough and we made good progress in the groomed track, although Luna had to dutifully wait for us to catch up with her when we whistled. We passed the abandoned Jessie Mill and after a mile or so, the track ended as the trail steepened and we were forced to herringbone for a long distance. This was quite a workout but the prospect of getting to ski back down it kept us going. It occurred to us later that Luna might have been able to help pull us up the hill had we leashed her up. She was having so much fun that we didn’t think of it at the time.
With much effort we crested a hill and took a turnoff to the Jumbo Overlook. The view was of the Blue River valley and although there are better vantage points in the area, it was a good place to rest for a few minutes before turning around. We also briefly checked out the old Preston Town Site with it’s ramshackle log cabin remains.
Then came the opportunity to ski back down what we had worked so hard to ascend. The narrow, steep part of the trail was a bit harrowing on nordic skis as we snow-plowed to keep from going too fast on the turns. But Luna loved running along side of us as we glided down the straightaways. It certainly was easier coming down than going up. As we descended to the gentle part of the trail we were better able to see views of the Ten Mile Range that we had missed in our diligent climb up.
As we approached the parking area the trail became more crowded and we were glad to have started relatively early, leaving Denver at 7:30 AM. We took Highway 285 on the way up, which was longer but avoided I-70 westbound ski traffic. After getting in a couple of good hours of skiing in we left at 12:30 PM, with smooth sailing on eastbound I-70 all the way home. Luna crashed contentedly in the car and although it seemed like a short outing, we were more tired than we thought. But the drive and the uphill effort was well-worth it for the joy of introducing Luna to cross-country skiing.