An Ode to the Perfect Multi-Sport Summer Day

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As a human who loves spending time in the mountains, summer is really tough on me. You see, I love boating, camping, trail running, mountain biking … I dig all the fun-tivities that summer offers. But I hate being hot. It hurts my heart, emotionally speaking.

To combat my summertime heat allergy I’ve thought about freezing a pair of boxers and giving myself an atomic wedgie or living in an ice-filled kiddie pool like some awkward furry-faced ski bum version of “The Little Mermaid.” But rather than those drastic measures, on a Saturday in early summer I decided to organize the best mountain-town summertime activity: the multi-sport day.

I called it the RFV BDF – the “Roaring Fork Valley Big Dumb Fun.” The plan was to wake up before sunrise, ski, bike, boat, eat tons of food, and spend a full day outside with friends. There was no total vert goal, no time to beat, no competition of any kind. The only point was to have fun, smile and laugh, and shed my curmudgeon summertime crankiness.

My pals Hannah and Wade agreed to join me. They’re the classic Colorado married couple; affable, upsettingly fit and good looking, can get off the couch and crush any sport, perma-smiley, and when you’re around them you just feel warm and nice.

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In order to ski, the three of us started toward Independence Pass at 6 a.m. We needed to time it just right: Too early and we’d be skinning and skiing on an ice cube; too late and we’d be floundering in isothermal mashed taters.

Indy Pass is a high mountain road that connects Aspen to Twin Lakes, Granite, and Leadville, Colorado, among other towns. It’s closed in the winter and is typically open from Memorial Day through October. However, with Colorado’s historic snowfall this winter, CDOT needed an extra week to clear the road.

But having too much snow is the kind of problem you love to have in a mountain town (like too many donuts or a wallet too packed to fold).

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We parked at a turnoff just shy of Indy’s 12,095-foot peak and began a long, but gradual, skin toward our ski. About 25-minutes in Wade returned to the car, citing lack of desire. Wade is a ski patroller, and thus, spends 6 months of the year in ski boots. When June hits, his feet like flip-flops.

Hannah and I boogied to a face above 13,500-feet and skied creamy corn snow while whooping and hollering with glee all the way back to the car. The skiing was great but we also knew cinnamon swirl pancakes at Two Rivers Café awaited.

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After breakfast, Hannah and I loaded our bike gear up and headed toward Prince Creek, a local’s favorite trail system that offers two-wheeled fun for all levels.

We decided that a 10-ish mile, fun-focused loop was in line with our expectations for the day. But the two-mile wooded uphill on Monte Carlo was so hot sweat dripped off the tip of my nose. My smile returned once we began the winding zippy traverse on Porcupine, which has some of my favorite views of Mount Sopris and our adorable hometown, Carbondale.

We flew down the banks and rollovers of Christmas Tree and Lower Monte Carlo. Then Hannah and I giggled and high-fived, and enjoyed ice cold LaCroix and chitchat on the back bumper of my Subi, my favorite part of this (or any) adventure.

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It was about 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon now. I was sweaty but smiling, and working up a big appetite. We decided that rigging a raft and running shuttle was more effort than we were willing to expend. Hannah dropped out of the RFV BDF to spend some time with her hubby.

I decided to finish the day with a solo trail run up Red Hill, the high-alpine desert recreation area that sits above Carbondale. (And by run I mean a handful of miles of jog-walking while trying not to pass out from heatstroke.)

My quads felt like microwaved hotdogs at this point and the sun was cooking my organs into shepherd’s pie. But I finished the run, and the entire RFV BDF, with a smile on my face.

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I love winter. I love being cold. As a skier, summer is just kind of a letdown. Wearing shorts in public makes me feel like a 12-year-old. The cottonwood bloom makes me sneeze from June through August, and when the temperature gets above 65-degrees, sausage gravy pours out of my skin and I am covered with a viscous stickiness from head to toe.

Summer equals non-stop swass for me, friends. But, a day spent doing as many fun things outside as you can with wonderful friends is a great day regardless of oppressive summer heat. Even when hot, summer is cool. Plus, the guilt-free eating of 57 pounds of Mexican food and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s at the conclusion of an epic multi-sport summertime day is pretty damn great.

Photos Courtesy of Paddy O’Connell.

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