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Summit County Mountain Bike Alliance evolves out of old Fat Tire Society with renewed mission

SUMMIT COVE — Eight local Summit County mountain bikers rolled down Cartier Court in Summit Cove Wednesday evening to meet up on a back porch overlooking the Gore Range. It’s here the newly christened Summit County Mountain Bike Alliance — formerly known as the Summit Fat Tire Society — hashed out its recent business, upcoming plans and necessary steps to achieve longer term goals.

It’s from an effective home base here in this Summit Cove backyard where avid local mountain bikers like president Ben Ferrante and board members Robert Klima and Mike Olsen hope to strengthen the nonprofit organization that has a mission statement of building new mountain-bike trails, strengthening existing ones and unifying the Summit County mountain bike community.

“Ideally we want to be the unified voice of Summit County mountain bikers,” said Ferrante, a member of the Summit Fat Tire Society since 2012 and president since the organization’s rebranding last October. “We want all of these groups to come together. We want to be the hub of all things mountain biking in Summit County. That’s our vision … We want a seat at the table when issues come as a voice of the local community of mountain bikers to build it right the first time, sustainably and in a fun way.”

But before the alliance put in the work to see the organization’s membership balloon from 65 this time last year to more than 150 today, they had to address their name.

A 30-year organization with history in the county, the Summit Fat Tire Society was conceived back when “fat tire” meant anything wider than your traditional road-bike wheel. These days, “fat tire” has a much different connotation in the cycling world, as a relatively-new form of biking with massively wide tires, dubbed “fat-tire biking” is increasingly popular in such conditions as winter riding on packed powder atop singletrack trails.

Ferrante made the first moves to evolve the Summit County Mountain Bike Alliance out of the old Fat Tire Society, which he commended for their historical success. Last year a board member came to him and told Ferrante that a local unofficial group of mountain bikers had reached out to the U.S. Forest Service about local trail improvements and the group, which was only connected by and email Listserv, was told to talk to the local nonprofit organization, which led them to the Summit Fat Tire Society.

After sending out a Facebook invitation, Ferrante was happy to see 30 people show up on a cold early-winter night after he posed the questions, “Do you care about your local trails? Do you want to discuss how you can care about your local trails? Do you want to have a voice or an opinion?”

After the questions, Ferrante said he issued an invitation.

“Come out, let sit down and talk about what can be done, what should be done,” Ferrante said.

Not long after, the group had its name change as well as 13 interested locals who now comprise the organization’s new board, who showed up in Klima’s backyard Wednesday night.

Last month, once mountain snowpack receded and trails dried out, the alliance had its first major event since the revamp. It was a trail improvement day out on the 9-mile stretch of the Colorado Trail — from the North Fork of the Swan River to the Golden Horseshoe area. It’s the terrain the local affiliate of the International Mountain Bicycling Association has adopted as its “baby,” as Ferrante put it.

On this iconic, not-for-the-faint-of-heart trail, alliance members worked with experts from McGill Trail Fabrication, diving up into two crews that tackled 10 different spots. They back-sloped, built up berms, cleared drainage ditches and pulled dead trees away from hanging over the trail to improve the intermediate-to-advanced mountain-bike experience on this multi-use trail, which is also popular among hikers.

Members of the Summit County Mountain Bike Alliance do trail work on the portion of the county’s segment of the Colorado Trail in June.
James Adamson / Summit County Mountain Bike Alliance

After about 15 people showed up to that first event, the group is hopeful more locals — whether they are existing members or not — will come out on July 9 for their next Twilight Trail Session. It’ll start out of the Miners Creek parking lot in Frisco at 5:30 p.m. From there, the group will address drainage issues and line of sight and safety problems.

“The biggest thing was the erosion that came from water,” Olsen said.

Another major part of the alliance’s work is putting together an easily digestible database of local trails. Olsen said the group’s newly-improved website, SCOMBA.org/conditions, is particularly useful in early season. A biker can easily access dozens upon dozens of the latest conditions updates from one place via the user-powered Trailforks site.

Looking ahead, Ferrante said the alliance would like to host some group rides and community events, such as movie nights and skill clinics. Perhaps down the line in a perfect world, he said the group could become strong enough to partner with bigger local event directors like county mountain bike legends Jeff Westcott and Mike McCormack and potentially help with races or host events of their own.

For now, the organization is focused on having a seat at the table regarding recreation and public-lands decisions across the county, advocating for the mountain bike community they love.

“Not everyone is aware of what goes into maintaining trails and why we have such amazing trails,” Ferrante said. “It’s a great platform for us to say, ‘hey, if you like that ride, it’d be great if you could come out and help one day and help dig. And if can’t help dig, it’d be great if you could help us afford the tools we need.’”

For more information, visit: SCOMBA.org.

A member of the Summit County Mountain Bike Alliance does trail work on the county’s portion of the Colorado Trail in June.
James Adamson / Summit County Mountain Bike Alliance

Pet Scene: Summit County’s adoptable pets for the week of July 5, 2020

The following animals are available for adoption at the Summit County Animal Shelter. Call the shelter at 970-668-3230 with questions. The most recent list of animals available for adoption can be found via their website.

Note: The animal shelter is now open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Please visit SummitCountyCo.gov/animalcontrol for physical distancing protocols.

Cats

ACE, 13 weeks, domestic shorthair, white and black, neutered male

ASPEN, 5 years, domestic shorthair, calico, spayed female

CEDRIC, 7 years, domestic mediumhair, white and gray tabby, neutered male

CREEK, 13 weeks, domestic shorthair, dilute calico, spayed female

FINNEGAN, 13 weeks, domestic shorthair, black, neutered male

FOG, 13 weeks, domestic shorthair, gray and white, neutered male

GYPSY, 6 years, domestic shorthair, gray and white, neutered male

LEONARD, 8 years, domestic shorthair mix, gray and gray tabby, neutered male

LUCKY, 7 years, domestic shorthair, dilute calico and white, spayed female

MIST, 1 year 6 months, domestic shorthair, white and brown tabby, spayed female

PEPPER, 7 years, domestic shorthair, black, spayed female

SHEBA, 7 years, domestic shorthair mix, brown tabby, spayed female

STREAM, 13 weeks, domestic shorthair, dilute calico, spayed female

Dogs

ALEXANDRIA, 5 years, pit bull terrier, blonde and white, spayed female

BILLY, 16 weeks, pug and schnauzer – miniature mix, tan and black, neutered male

BLONDIE, 1 year 7 months, Labrador retriever and pit bull terrier mix, white, spayed female

BUZZ, 16 weeks, pug and schnauzer – miniature mix, black, neutered male

GECKO, 2 years, pit bull terrier mix, black and white, neutered male

MILLIE, 9 months, Australian cattle dog mix, blue merle and tan, spayed female

Silverthorne Bike Guide: Ptarmigan & the Salt Lick System

The start of the Ptarmigan Loop is absolutely brutal, could be a hike-a-bike for most. But after that there is some nice rolly singletrack that will take you up and down until you get to a bench 2 miles up with a beautiful view. From there it continues to get steep and rocky until the top.
– Eric Cutler

DESCRIPTION
On the northeast side of Colorado Highway 9, the Ptarmigan Loop ride is a grueling climb with rewarding views and downhill as long as it’s not very busy. The various dirt trails up the popular Ptarmigan Peak get a lot of hikers, though the mountain biking is slowly growing here. Pedaling the Ptarmigan Peak Loop requires top-notch fitness. Also, be aware that downed trees on Ptarmigan may drape over trails and make riding difficult, so contact the Dillon Range District in advance to verify what conditions are like.

The start of the Ptarmigan Loop is brutal. It then goes into flowy singletrack with rolling up and down terrain until you get to a bench that’s about 2 miles up. There is a beautiful view from here toward the west, ideal for a sunset ride if you bring your headlamp for the way down.

From here, the loop continues to get steep and rocky toward the top until you get to the wilderness sign, beyond which you are not permitted to ride a bike. When you get to the wilderness sign, you either need to go back down the way you came up or go right and descend down a steeper, older doubletrack, Ptarmigan Peak trail, that is an advanced ride through smooth and steep in spots. Ptarmigan Peak is multi-use singletrack with many hikers along the way that will require you to keep your eyes peeled for uphill traffic as you negotiate about 2 miles of steep switchbacks down the mountain before it flattens and straightens out some.

FAST FACTS

Distance: 4 miles (Ptarmigan Loop)
Rating: Easy/moderate/advanced
Time: 1-2 hours (Ptarmigan Loop)
Type: Multiuse singletrack (Ptarmigan Loop)
Season: Early May to October
Connectors: Ptarmigan Peak, Tenderfoot Connector, Lower Blue recpath, Old Tenderfoot Trail
Parking: Off Ptarmigan Road on the right, ride your bike up a very steep ortion of the road from there for about one-quarter mile to the start of the Ptarmigan Loop. For the Salt Lick System, park at the Salt Lick Trailhead in Wildernest.

If you’re not up to the challenge of the Ptarmigan Loop, check out the Salt Lick Trail System, also in Silverthorne, that offers intermediate routes for more novice mountain bikers. You can take the Summit Stage to the top of Salt Lick and ride the trails down. Loops are also possible in the Salt Lick System with plenty of rolling terrain.

Salt Lick is accessible via climbing Lower Salt Lick. Remember the upper portion is a wilderness boundary area and is closed to mountain bikes. There’s a lot of interesting named trails in Salt Lick, some featuring old jumps to get air on. The best parking is at the Salt Lick trailhead in Wildernest. From there, various trails pass through areas of lodgepole pine and aspen, including a connector to the hike-only Lilypad Lake Trail. Lower Salt Lick Gulch is a beginner trail that can connect you to Upper Salt Lick, a moderate ride that will take you up about 250 feet over 3,400 feet of distance.

More to s’mores: Almost 100 years after the invention of the original s’more, it is time to get creative

S’mores are a camping staple. Across the United States, families gather around campfires with the traditional and indispensable three elements of the s’more: marshmallow, graham crackers and milk chocolate.

First appearing in a 1927 Girl Scouts Handbook, the recipe for “some mores” has become a tried and tested classic. Simple and well-known, you cannot go wrong with a golden-brown roasted marshmallow sandwiched between melting chocolate and graham cracker. For the creative camper, however, alterations to the timeless s’more can elevate your outdoor dining.

Valeria Connelly, a Summit County local who sells her own s’mores kits, has been making s’mores in the backyard with her kids for years. Noticing the number of visitors to the mountains who were unused to the classic s’more, she began selling kits of all the essentials for making s’mores, whether over the grill in the backyard or fire at the campground.

“I do not think we realize living in the mountains we have these experiences over time,” Connelly said. “The idea was to have it all in one place.”

Connelly offers her own tips for making s’mores, though she acknowledges that every family likes to make them differently.

“My kids are always burning the marshmallow, but we kind of like it that way,” she said. “For perfect stacking of the s’more, it is best to aim for that lightly roasted, golden-brown marshmallow.”

To achieve lightly roasted perfection, Connelly suggests holding the roasting stick near the coals at the bottom of a campfire pit rather than the flames to prevent the marshmallow from catching fire. There are also a few certain essential tools or methods that can make the s’more-cooking process safer.

“I always have my reusable s’mores sticks,” she said. “But if you are using wooden sticks, soak them in water first to prevent them from catching fire.”

Making s’mores is an inherently messy process, but Connelly encourages campers or backyard s’more builders to be organized for the most efficient and enjoyable process.

“A bag of wet wipes is such a necessity,” Connelly said. “Try to store all your s’mores ingredients and tools into one storage box, so your family is not in lots of different boxes, and you can contain the mess.”

While Connelly’s family enjoys the classic s’more, she still encourages every family to make s’mores their own and to experiment with ingredients they like.

“You can get out of the box on it. Try different chocolate, like mint or caramel-filled chocolate,” Connelly said. “You can also get chocolate-filled marshmallows that keep the process a little less messy.”

For families that want to experiment with the traditional s’more, these variations explore some additions to the original recipe:

S’mores dip provides a low-mess option with no campfire required.
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S’more dip, please

For this variation of s’mores, no roasting spits are required. Instead, layer a cast iron skillet with chocolate bars topped with marshmallows and set your skillet right on the coals or in the oven for five to 10 minutes. Wait for the marshmallows to achieve that perfect golden brown that can be harder to achieve directly over the flames.

Once the marshmallows have begun to melt, remove the skillet and use strips of graham cracker to dunk into the delicious dip

Safe and baked s’mores

Making s’mores with your family is always a good idea. But sometimes the process can be messy and daunting with sugar-happy kids running around near a campfire and wielding hot sticks. Take the hassle out of s’mores with this minimal-mess s’more hack.

Arrange a rectangular graham cracker parallel to the end of a strip of aluminum. Place Hershey’s chocolate pieces on both halves of the rectangle, add a marshmallow and put another rectangular graham cracker on top. Wrap up the s’more in the foil, and set it on a grate above the fire or in the coals. Test the doneness of the s’more by pressing down on the top of the foil package with a stick. If the foil does not spring back when pressed, then the s’more is ready to go.

Remove the package from the fire with mits and let them cool before unwrapping the foil. Be aware that the foil will still be hot. This s’more technique is not only good for reducing the mess, but is also perfect if you do not have marshmallow sticks handy.

The s’moreo is a graham-free variant.
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The s’moreo 

Find yourself with a hankering for s’mores but lacking the niche ingredients of graham crackers and Hershey’s chocolate? Not to fear. This Oreo variation of s’mores does justice to the original recipe. Replace chocolate and graham crackers with Oreos and peanut butter.

To begin, spread a dollop of peanut butter on the top of two Oreos, then roast a marshmallow over a fire or stove. Rather than the traditional s’more, sandwich the marshmallow between the two Oreos with the peanut butter-covered sides facing inward. With the peanut butter acting as an adhesive, enjoy your unconventional twist on the s’more that combines family favorite ingredients.

The s’more pop

Whether you are at the campsite or in the house, make s’mores a craft for the whole family. To prepare, melt chocolate chips in a glass bowl and set up a bowl of ground-up graham crackers. Skewer marshmallows on popsicle sticks. Dip the marshmallow fully in the bowl of melted chocolate, then sprinkle graham cracker pieces onto the chocolate.

Set marshmallows in the fridge until they are hardened. These mess-free snacks can then be enjoyed around the fire.

To cook grilled banana s’mores, wrap up the bananas in foil wrap and throw them on the grill or a grate above the campfire for five minutes.
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Grilled banana s’mores

Concerned about the sugar content of your dessert? Add more fruit to the typical s’mores by losing the graham cracker. Grill your dessert by cutting a banana down the side — do not remove the banana peel. Once the banana is split open, fill it with mini marshmallows and chocolate chips.

Wrap up the bananas in foil wrap and throw them on the grill or a grate above the campfire for five minutes. You can tell if they are done by pressing on the foil with a stick. If the banana presses inward, then they are ready to be cooled and eaten like a banana split!

Red, white and blue s’mores

Celebrate the Fourth of July with a patriotic punch to your s’mores. In addition to the traditional graham cracker, chocolate and marshmallow, add blueberries and sliced strawberries for some fruity flavor and a touch of color.

To help the strawberries and blueberries stick, spread cream cheese, peanut butter, Nutella or jelly on one side of the graham cracker to keep your s’more together. For variations of fruit, try adding banana slices to the classic s’more recipe.

Regardless of how they are prepared, s’mores are an excellent camping food.
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However you cook your s’mores, you cannot go wrong with the classic American dessert. Add new ingredients, make substitutions and change your technique to make the perfect s’more recipe for your family. Make your s’mores as fancy, simple or deconstructed as you would like, but remember to have fun while doing it and get creative.

Police called on man who shoved liquor store employee after being asked to wear a mask

Editor’s note: this story has been updated with the correct date of the incident.

BRECKENRIDGE — Breckenridge police responded to an incident Friday evening, July 3, in which a man shoved a Breckenridge Market & Liquor employee after being asked to wear a mask.

Shortly after the incident the suspect left the liquor store on foot, Sgt. Garrison Green said.

Police were gathering video and information from the liquor store Friday night. As of Friday evening, police had not contacted the suspect, Green said.

This is the first time the police department has had to deal with mask incidents “at this level,” Green said.

“Most of the time it’s just been us trying to go out and educate people,” he said. “If there has been any incidents, we’ve talked to our business owners and managers and told them, ‘If anybody gives you any push back call us and we’ll go and try to resolve the situation.’ But we really haven’t had that many bad incidents happen in town.”

Officials remind residents of firework ban ahead of Fourth of July

KEYSTONE — With this year’s Fourth of July fireworks show canceled in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, people may be tempted to light their own, a decision that is illegal in both Summit County and many places throughout Colorado

In Summit County, fire restrictions prohibit the use and sale of fireworks, according to the county’s wildfire prevention page. The only type of firework that is allowed are sparklers. 

“In general, anything that flies or explodes is illegal,” Summit Fire & EMS spokesman Steve Lipsher said. “That’s in all of our municipalities and in the county. It applies to private property.”

In late May, the Dillon Ranger District of White River National Forest enacted Stage 1 fire restrictions for the county. The restrictions also prohibit building, maintaining, attending and using open fires. 

The county does allow fires for people who have obtained a permit from their fire district, however. Residents and property owners can obtain permits by using their district’s Community Connect page.

The Red, White & Blue Fire Protection Service area covers all of the greater Breckenridge. Summit Fire & EMS covers Copper, Silverthorne, Dillon, Montezuma, Frisco, Keystone, Summit Cove, Wildernest, Mesa Cortina and the Lower Blue Valley.

In addition to obtaining a permit, the county has outlined other regulations that residents must follow when burning a legal fire:

  • The device that holds the fire must have a protective screen
  • The ground underneath the fire must be barren
  • The fire has to be at least 15 feet away from anything that is flammable
  • The fire can be no larger than 3 feet wide and 2 feet tall
  • Only nontoxic fuel sources like wood or charcoal are allowed 

While sparkler’s are allowed in most public areas, Lipsher said people should be aware of how hot they can get. 

“Even those burn at like 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit,” he said. “So they’re not risk-free, and we prefer that people not use any type of fireworks.”

Lipsher said the firework ban’s main purpose is to prevent wildfires.

“This is an arid western forest and fireworks can very easily start a wildfire and they have many, many times over the years,” he said.

Public officials are urging residents to be especially careful this year because a wildfire would take up necessary resources used to fight the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

People who are caught violating the firework ban will have to pay a $150 fine for the first violation, $500 for the second violation and $1,000 for the third violation, according to the county’s firework ordinance. The penalty is even worse for people who cause a wildfire, Lipsher said. 

“If you start a wildfire it escalates from there,” he said. “There’s arson potential, there’s prison time potential and, of course, all of the costs of fighting a wildfire. It’s bad news you do not want that.”

Fire Activities Prohibited In Summit County
  • Building, attending and using open fires
  • Fireworks
  • Use of tracer ammunition
  • Use of any projectile containing explosive material, incendiary material or other flammable chemical substance
  • Disposal of any burning object outdoors, including cigarettes, cigars and matches

Hit the lakes: Visit Summit County for the peaks, but stay for the reservoirs

A pair of bicyclists cruise down the Dillon Dam recpath along the Dillon Reservoir.
Hugh Carey / hcarey@summitdaily.com

Summit County is famous for its world-class skiing and snowboarding as well as its gorgeous views. The natural and man-made reservoirs of the county, however, offer a large range of activities off the peaks.

Summit County is adorned with 50 reservoirs ranging from ponds to some of the state’s largest water bodies. These reservoirs hold their own unique histories, modern uses and outdoor leisure opportunities.

The High Country can receive upwards of 400 inches of snow per season. To provide for an expanding Front Range and the growth of cities such as Denver, historic water boards began initiatives to divert water from the peaks to the plains.

Dillon Reservoir

The most striking body of water in Summit County is Dillon Reservoir. The reservoir covers over 3,233 acres, holds 310 million cubic meters of water and is bordered by the towns of Frisco and its namesake Dillon. The town of Dillon, however, was not always located on the shores of the massive reservoir.

The modern day town of Dillon was originally founded in 1883 as a trading post but moved after the establishment of the Rio Grande Railway nearer to the Blue River. Dillon relocated again in 1892 to accommodate for more railroads, and eventually made it to its current location in 1961 to make way for Dillon Reservoir.

Today, Dillon Reservoir provides water for 1.4 million people on the Front Range through the Roberts Tunnel, which transports over 480 million gallons of water across the Continental Divide.

The reservoir offer locals and visitors access to multiple water activities from canoeing, paddleboarding, sailboating and boat racing. Six campgrounds and 350 campsites also dot the shore. In the winter, the reservoir is a popular site for ice fishing.

During the summer, however, one of the most popular activities is boating.

“We have what is normally a very busy power boat rental program, so we have a fleet of around 30 boats which are pontoons primarily,” Dillon Marina Director Craig Simson said. We also have sailboats, and that rental program is booked throughout the summer months.”

Visitors can rent boats from either the Frisco and Dillon marinas for two-hour periods and explore the reservoir, including its over 28 miles of shoreline and small islands.

Boaters can travel between the two marinas or catch a ride on the Lake Dillon water taxi.

“Often, people will travel between us and the Frisco Marina and the grill there and then come back to enjoy the tiki bar here,” Simson added.

While the Dillon and Frisco marinas offer a wide range of activities on the reservoir, there are some limitations. Motorboats must operate under a speed limit of 30 miles per hour. Potential island explorers are asked to stay away from protected wildlife areas such as Sentinel Island, where eagles often nest. Visitors also are banned from swimming in the reservoir due to year-round hypothermic temperatures.

Green Mountain Reservoir in Heeney is seen from the summit of Green Mountain.
Antonio Olivero / aolivero@summitdaily.com

Green Mountain Reservoir

While less well-known, Green Mountain Reservoir by Heeney, about 25 miles north of the Dillon Reservoir, is considered by many to be a hidden treasure. Unlike Dillon’s many marinas and bustling neighboring towns, Green Mountain Reservoir offers boaters, fishers and campers a quiet escape into nature.

The reservoir was the first infrastructure built in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1937 Colorado-Big Thompson Project. Similar to the Dillon Reservoir, the Colorado-Big Thompson Project aimed to divert water from the High Country of Colorado’s Western Slope to the drier and heavily populated Front Range. The Green Mountain Reservoir, however, does not provide water to the Front Range.

Over concerns that federal water diversion projects were transferring too much water from the Western Slope, the reservoir was built as a compromise to save water to be used on the west side of the state.

Not only does Green Mountain Reservoir store water resources, the Green Mountain Power Plant uses a hydroelectric power plant at the dam to generate 21,000 kilowatts, enough to power the homes of 60,000 Americans every year.

Heeney Marina offers boat rentals and slip reservations for Green Mountain Reservoir. The reservoir is also surrounded by seven campgrounds offering 156 sites. Unlike Dillon, Green Mountain allows water skiing and swimming, but visitors are advised to rent wetsuits as the water is direct snowmelt and can be near freezing even in the summer months.

The reservoir also offers bird-watching trails and is a popular environment for bald eagle nesting. The nearby Cataract Lake and Falls trail is a light 2-mile hike, perfect for families to enjoy spectacular wildflowers and the waterfall.

The reservoir provides ample fishing opportunities, including one that could be potentially lucrative for those interested in helping wildlife officials with reducing some invasive species. In a recent effort to reduce the number of pike in the reservoir, the marina is paying $20 for every pike that is caught and brought to their office.

Pike is not the only invasive species in the reservoir. In 2017, the U.S Bureau of Reclamation found larvae of the quagga mussel, an invasive species environmentally damaging to lakes across the western United States. To combat the species, the marina constructed a new boat ramp where inspections and decontaminations are done for boaters wanting to enter or exit the reservoir.

A view of Sawmill Reservoir between Peaks 8 and 9 in Breckenridge.
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Sawmill Reservoir

Sawmill Reservoir is one of the county’s smaller reservoirs, but it is highly accessible at less than a mile away from Breckenridge’s town center. The reservoir can be reached by the 1.5-mile round-trip Sawmill Creek footpath beginning below Breckenridge’s Sawmill Lift.

The reservoir was historically the main source of Breckenridge’s drinking water, though the town now receives its water from the Goose Pasture Tarn just over three miles south of town.

The reservoir is open to the public and surrounded by a walking trail but is predominately used for outdoor programming by the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center.

The nonprofit uses the reservoir to allow people with disabilities to experience and enjoy nature, according to Jaime Overmyer, the wilderness program director for the center.

“It is pretty small, but we use it to plan out adventures for people with disabilities,” Overmyer said. “It is helpful because of its extreme accessibility, so it is very easy to help people into boats and out on the water.”

While the center’s program has its own private boats, there are not rentals for the public.

Sawmill Reservoir doesn’t boast the same range of activities as Dillon or
Green Mountain, but it is an accessible and peaceful location for a quiet walk or family outing. Kids can play alongside Sawmill Creek, making small damns with nearby rocks or sticks. After they are done playing, families can instruct their children in Leave No Trace principles by returning natural materials to their original location.

A path meanders through fields of wildflowers alongside a path next to the Clinton Gulch Reservoir.
Getty Images

Clinton Gulch Dam Reservoir

About 7 miles south of Copper Mountain Resort on Colorado Highway 91, Clinton Gulch Dam Reservoir is further away from the county’s towns, but is an extremely popular site for anglers.

The reservoir was built for mining but is now used to supplement local water supplies and winter snowmaking for nearby ski resorts. Colorado Parks and Wildlife also uses the reservoir as a site for the state’s only native trout species, the colorful cutthroat trout.

Before seeking the quiet of the solitary reservoir, anglers can stop for tackle and supplies at Frisco’s Trouts Fly Fishing, Silverthorne’s Cutthroat Anglers or Breckenridge Outfitters.

Not only does the reservoir offer ample fishing opportunities, it is also surrounded by the 2.5-mile Clinton Gulch Dam Trail that offers prime views of the Tenmile Range often reserved for more challenging hikes at higher elevation. The trail involves less than 600 feet of elevation gain and is a quiet trail accessible to a wide range of ability levels.

Summit County is frequented by visitors from around the world every year for skiing, snowboarding and its beautiful and relaxing location. While visitors might be attracted to the region because of its peaks, the county’s reservoirs are considered by many to be among its hidden treasures.

Tourism officials describe ‘last-minute’ travel interest spike for Breckenridge ahead of holiday

BRECKENRIDGE — Breckenridge Tourism Office executives relayed that from the national and localized data and reports they are consistently assessing, it seems Breckenridge and Summit County are seeing a trend of “last-minute” searches, bookings and travel from visitors from across the country ahead of the Fourth of July weekend.

Ahead of a weekend when Summit County is seeing an apparent surge of visitation amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Breckenridge Tourism Office on Thursday morning, July 2, shared their latest tourism and marketing information and data with hundreds of people via videoconference.

Bill Wishowski, the director of operations for the Breckenridge Tourism Office, pointed to data the tourism office collected from JackRabbit Systems, a tourism-focused software company that supports the travel industry. Wishowski showcased data that showed from the beginning of May through the end of June searches and referrals were up.

“And since June started, searches are up 51% and referrals are up 41%,” Wishowski said of the JackRabbit data compared to 2019.

People gather around the Blue River in the heart of downtown Breckenridge on Thursday, July 2, ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.
Elaine Collins / Special to The Daily

Wishowski then showcased the June 15 occupancy report for the town of Breckenridge, which he said painted a clearer picture on how many visitors have been booking last-minute trips through June ahead of the summer, beginning with the Fourth of July weekend.

“Wednesday we had a lodging roundtable and, Fourth of July, I made a prediction that I think we would get the 1,800 room nights out of our (destination marketing) database,” Wishowski said. “That prediction might be blown out. It’s been very strong last-minute business for the Fourth of July.”

Wishowski elaborated that, on average, a “room night” consists of 3.6 people visiting the county. He also said he was looking forward to yet-to-be-released data, through June 30, that the Breckenridge Tourism Office should obtain on July 7. That data would clarify if the numbers the Breckenridge Tourism Office is looking at is reflected by increased crowds in Summit County this holiday weekend.

Compared to rival markets, Wishowski said that, in some instances, occupancy is less than competitors. But he said that may be because Breckenridge opened up later than other markets.

“Room nights compared to 2019 are starting to match up,” Wishowski said of Breckenridge lodging.

A sign draped over Breckenridge’s Walkable Main Street greets visitors to town on Thursday, July 2, ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.
Elaine Collins / Special to The Daily

Brett Howard, the Breckenridge Tourism Office’s chief marketing officer, dove into some state-wide tourism data.

Looking at Tripadvisor and Expedia data, he said the first half of June saw a 43% increase in people searching for flights compared to May. Howard said most people were looking into one- to two-day stays, which he said likely could be because many people are looking for a first trip amid the pandemic with a shorter length of stay to “test the waters,” or it could be business travel.

He then shared app-based tracking data the tourism company obtained from the visitation intelligence company Arrivalist.

Howard said this detailed geo-location intelligence information is especially useful in a time like this. Howard singled out how Arrivalist quantifies how many people go in and out of a state. He said Colorado is currently performing better than most other states in terms of people driving 250 or more miles into the state. He said that could be a sign that people do not currently want to fly to vacation.

“We are seeing this increase week over week,” Howard said. “Last week, it was almost an 8% increase. And 25% (of people) driving into the state were from a distance over 250 miles.”

Assessing data taken from keyword search trends in Google, Howard said things are slowly moving back in a good area for Breckenridge in terms of Airbnb.

“There was a pretty significant drop during COVID,” he said. “It’s been a slow and steady increase back and, in some instances, beating year-over-year in June. Which has put us at a 16% down year-over-year, which is fairly impressive considering where we were — anywhere from 60%, 70%, 80% percent (decrease), in some instances.”

“What this is showing us is people are showing intent to travel and at least researching,” Howard added.

Howard then said, along with the data, the number one priority for the tourism office continues to be safety. With that in mind, the tourism office has been using a Johns Hopkins daily map to dive into county-and city-level metrics in terms of novel coronavirus spikes.

“It just doesn’t seem appropriate to market into an area that is seeing these high increases, hospitalizations and inviting them into the community,” Howard said.

The tourism office’s chief executive officer, Lucy Kay, assessed more national trends. She said national data signaled a dip in tourism confidence and intent to travel due to COVID-19 flare-ups across the nation, despite June’s improvement for Breckenridge.

Kay added that a number of the data sources the tourism office is looking at say people are wanting to take road trips over air travel. She added what’s interesting in the road trips is that people are willing to drive much further than in the past.

Pointing to Longwoods International tourism data, Kay said a May survey signaled that people are most interested in at first visiting friends and family amid the pandemic — 52% of travelers say that their first trip that they are going to take when they come out of COVID is to friends and family domestically.

“And 75% of travelers are saying they still intend to travel,” Kay said. “Only 8% say they are not going to travel.”

Summit pros Chris Corning, Chase Blackwell dish on Corning’s new ‘Teal’ snowboard movie

SILVERTHORNE — While driving south earlier this week for some wakeboarding in Texas followed by some dirt biking in Missouri, Summit County pro snowboarder Chris Corning chatted about his new snowboard film “Teal.”

For Corning, a 2018 Olympian and multitime International Ski & Snowboard Federation Crystal Globe season champion, it’s the 20-year-old big air and slopestyle rider’s debut movie effort.

Corning, who’s the producer and director of the movie, said last year he decided he wanted to make his first snowboard film. So he recruited friends such as street specialist Sam Klein, daredevil Windham “Lawndart” Miller, U.S. Pro Team halfpipe rider Chase Blackwell and others to collaborate with him for several months of filming this past winter. He enlisted filmmaker Alex Havey to shoot and edit the footage.

Corning said the movie is currently being edited and he hopes to release it in the fall. He said he decided on “Teal” as the name because the color reminds him of the kind of riders featured in the movie who, he said, may not be the biggest, most obvious names, but he feels are some of the world’s best snowboarders.

“Teal is kind of the color that has it’s own path,” he said. “It’s not really, it doesn’t follow too much. It’s its own color. The movie is about people who have their own path. And since we are not the mainstream riders, we want to show we are still some of the best.

“We want to show we have what it takes, the same riding potential, and can put together as good movie a movie as others can with the little bit of backing we have,” the 2018 X Games Norway bronze medalist added.

Corning said the movie’s crew began filming in December up in Duluth, Minnesota, where he, Klein and Miller stayed out for 11 days during the same month Corning stole the show with his four-rotation, five-inversion quad-cork 1800 trick in the Visa Big Air World Cup event in Atlanta. From there, Klein and some young riders featured in the movie stayed in the Midwest and filmed more street riding in Wisconsin.

“We hit a couple of really gnarly rails, tall, off some bridges and stuff,” Corning said. “We hit a basketball hoop. That was pretty fun. We just tried to, basically, whatever we had to hit be on par with every other movie we’ve seen up in the top categories we watched last year.”

Corning singled out a down-flat-down-rail he rode that was two-and-a-half stories long. On the first four tries he had to bail on the rail and ride down the adjacent stairs before he rode it through on the fifth try.

Using the basketball hoop’s cement stanchion as a ramp was his idea, something he spotted when the crew was driving around. So they built a ramp and landing, used a winch to tow riders in for the speed necessary to ride over the hoop’s backboard before landing in the court area. Corning himself executed a 180-degree spin on the hoop while rotating to his board’s backside.

Filming eventually brought the crew out to Jackson Hole in Wyoming in March, where Blackwell joined his fellow Never Summer rider Corning and the rest of the squad.

After his most successful international halfpipe season yet as a pro, Dillon resident Blackwell said the film’s backcountry riding near Togwotee Pass in Jackson Hole was a special experience outside of contest riding for him.

“We did hit this one jump off of a rock that almost looked like a kicker, and that was probably one of my favorite sessions,” Blackwell said. “Just everything about that whole session was very spontaneous. When a lot of people see that, I think they will be electrified with how crazy that feature looks. It was more of a natural feature, not anything we had to build or shape out.”

Inspired to film riding like much of Travis Rice’s shoots in Wyoming, Corning and the gang looked for their own spots in the hilly terrain. It was a 60-foot-long jump the crew built that stands out to Corning from the Wyoming backcountry session, as he landed four tricks on that will be featured in the movie.

“My favorite part of that trip was being able to land so many tricks on a single jump in the same day,” Corning said. “That doesn’t usually happen on a powder jump. I think it will be different for people to watch. … We were doing definitely some of the hardest tricks I’ve ever done in the backcountry, some of the hardest tricks that have ever been done in snowboard powder.”

Summit County expands Housing Helps program

KEYSTONE — Summit County is expanding its Housing Helps program to unincorporated areas of Snake River, Lower Blue and Tenmile basins, according to a county news release. 

The Housing Helps program originally launched in the Upper Blue Basin in collaboration with the town of Breckenridge. The program aims to create, maintain and preserve homes for local workers. 

Under the program, homeowners and homebuyers are incentivized to place deed restrictions on existing homes so they can be owned by members of the local workforce. The county pays an owner 10% to 15% of the property’s current value to record a deed restriction on a market-rate home, according to the release. 

Whether a person is eligible for the program and the amount of money they received from the county depends on the market, the home’s location and its suitability as workforce housing, according to the release.

Homeowners and buyers can use the funds from the county for a down payment, home repairs, special assessments or any other purpose, according to the release. Recipients are then required to execute a permanent deed restriction that requires a local owner to occupy the home. 

People who are interested in the Housing Helps program can email housingdepartment@summitcountyco.gov or visit the Summit Combined Housing Authority website to receive more information about the application process.