Avalanche Ranch: A Cut of Crystal River Valley Heaven – Part II
posted by: Amber Johnson
Editor’s note: This family travel feature will not make any sense unless you first read Part I. Plus, who would want to miss the memorable details of our sleepless night and a sordid discourse on kissing cousins.
As an adventure-travel writer, I was always traveling…and adventuring. If I wasn’t backpacking, I was skiing, hiking, canyoneering or biking. Respite and recovery were never on my agenda.
Until I had children. And then R&R became my life’s mantra.
I had plans for our trip to Avalanche Ranch. Big plans. Our little family would go sledding, skate on their pond and snowshoe along Avalanche Creek. We would then sip hot chocolate by the fire and venture into Aspen for some gastronomic delights.
But then we got three hours of sleep and I realized what family travel is really all about: survival.
We drastically amended our itinerary. We visited the animals at the ranch’s stable and drove up the Crystal River Valley past the crimson cliffs cloaked in snow, the commanding Redstone Castle and the frigid Hays Creek Falls. We gazed down upon it all from our perch atop 8,755-foot McClure Pass…as the kids whined about being sequestered for more than 5 minutes.[photopress:IMG_8476.jpg,full,pp_image]When we arrived back at our cabin, I was resolute that Haddie and I needed an adventure so I introduced her to snowshoeing. She looked to me as her Snowshoe Sensei as I judiciously instructed her how to not fall on her face. She did a great job trudging around the grounds and we designated the skating pond as our turnaround point.
We arrived at our destination, scooted around on the ice for a while and turned back. We had gone about 100 feet when I looked down and noticed I was missing one of my snowshoes. Figuring it must have slipped off somewhere around the pond, I looped back but found nothing. I started to worry it was buried somewhere beneath two feet of snow and would not be found until spring.
Hadley started doubting me. “How do you lose a snowshoe, Mommy?”
I was losing face with a 3 year old.
“Sometimes snowshoes just like to play hide-and-seek in the snow.”
She didn’t buy it.
After a 20-minute search and rescue operation, we found the subversive snowshoe perched on a snow bank. A snow bank we had scaled shortly after setting out, which meant I had done the majority of my tutorial sans snowshoe – definitely a credibility crusher.
Perhaps Avalanche Ranch should substitute “Slow Parents” for “Children” on their sign….[photopress:IMG_8464.jpg,full,pp_image]