Summit County: Peace & quiet in the forest
Reggae couldn’t wait to hit the trail. The lab-pointer mix bounded back and forth in his red jacket, waiting for Silverthorne residents Sean and Darlas Von Feldt to finish pulling their gear from the Subaru bed. As his excitement increased, his patience waned and a few whimpers escaped as he sat expectantly. Snow swirled around the car parked at the base of Frisco’s west exit, at the North Ten Mile Trailhead. The parking lot there is often full or nearly full on weekends, with types like the Von Feldts who look to the backcountry for some fresh air away from the crowds. The 3.5-mile national forest trail is open to hikers, snowshoers, skiers and horses – all but the horseback riders were there on Sunday. It was Darlas’ first time out in the backcountry and her second time strapping into her Black Diamond AT setup – she’d tested them out on Keystone’s front side after the mountain closed last season. Sean heads into the backcountry regularly with local friends, he said. And Darlas said she’s tired of getting left behind when the guys head to Vail Pass with the snowmobiles. The couple chose the North Ten Mile Trail as a controlled environment for Darlas to learn to skin, and because they could bring the dog – he’d have to stay home if they headed up toward Independence Bowl at Keystone or into the terrain surrounding Arapahoe Basin. And, it’s less crowded. When the crowds roll into the resorts, they can roll out into the backcountry. “It’s the beauty, the serenity,” Sean said. “It’s peaceful when it’s snowing like this.””When we couldn’t get into the parking lot at Keystone, that was our queue,” Darlas said. They’re not the only ones who headed out in blizzard conditions Sunday to enjoy the forest. They’re also not the only ones who expect to make it a Sunday – or at least a weekend – ritual to hit the popular Frisco trails that head toward the longer Gore Range Trail and wind into the Eagles Nest Wilderness.Frisco second-home owners Bill and Johanne Kittle use the Ten Mile, Meadow Creek and Mount Royal trails in Frisco as well as the Lily Pad Lake Trail in Silverthorne almost every weekend to go hiking. They held their trekking poles Sunday as they explained they ski at Copper Mountain or Keystone Resort during the week, and hit the Frisco Nordic Center when they want to strap the cross country skis on. “We prefer not to ski on the weekends,” Bill said. And they choose to hike these trails because the snow tends to be more packed down with all the snowshoe traffic. The two have alternated seasons between Summit County in winter and summer and North Carolina in spring and fall for years. They remember doing more backcountry cross country skiing about two decades ago when fewer people traversed the nearby trails. But when it comes down to it, they and the rest of the pack using the trailhead just enjoy being outdoors. “It’s really pretty with the snow and woods,” Johanne said, adding that the peacefulness is complemented by the chance to get some exercise.
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