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Touted as the largest inland-lake regatta west of the Mississippi, the Dillon Open returns to Lake Dillon this weekend for its 41st year. The annual U.S. Sailing-sanctioned competition typically features between 100 and 150 sailboats organized into a number of race categories.
“There are a lot of folks coming in from out of state. It really is an amazing spectacle,” Dillon Yacht Club director Scott Snyder said. “The legend of the event lives nationally.”
Snyder added that challenging conditions on the reservoir combined with the scenery surrounding Lake Dillon make it a bucket-list event for many avid sailors.
“It’s going to be crazy down here,” longtime Dillon Yacht Club member and former Open director Lisa Wildeman said.
Notable among the boats in this year’s event will be a 40-foot ocean racing sailboat usually docked in California. The boat is much larger than the typical boat on Dillon.
“It’s going to be something to see this thing on the water,” Wildeman said of the yellow sailing vessel — a Shock 40 boat named “Cita” and owned by three men from Colorado.
Ever-changing mountain weather patterns combined with the various valleys that empty into Dillon make the lake an especially challenging place to sail.
“It’s beautiful and some might say frustrating,” Synder said.
Native Summit County sailors typically have a decided advantage, Wildeman said.
“You never know which way the wind is coming from. It makes it very difficult to sail on this lake if you don’t know the winds,” she said. “It’s really fun for us as locals having local knowledge. Racers from Texas (and other places) come up here and think they’re going to win.”
She said more often than not it’s in-state boats that take the top honors.
The weekend’s events kick off Friday afternoon with registration, check-in and a welcome party. Those who aren’t members of the Dillon Yacht Club can buy guest passes for the weekend. Those include access to the private bar and restaurant, and an opportunity to check out all the club has to offer in terms of lessons and membership programs. It also affords a chance to talk with experienced sailors. Spectator boats will be available for non-sailors to get closer look at the races. Dillon marina will offer 90-minute pontoon-boat rides during the events.
Races will be held Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. with a fundraising auction and dinner party Saturday night benefiting the Dillon Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program. The dinner party will include live music and is open to the public.
This fall the town of Blue River plans to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
Meanwhile, construction crews will soon be breaking ground on an almost 50-acre multi-use development. The development is being built in what is known as the Ruby Placer parcel, an area of land just more than 48 acres located on the east side of Colorado Highway 9, adjacent to the Skier’s Edge and Quandary Condos.
“We’re very excited about starting this project,” said Blue River Mayor Lindsay Backas.
The development allows a maximum of 68 units of single-family homes or townhomes built as two-, three- or four-unit structures. It will also feature a community center, parks, trails, pond and one 2.3-acre area that has the potential to house commercial properties following a minimum two-year study.
The town board of trustees voted July 15 on a second reading to the Ruby Placer land annexation and approved a development plan for the property. The land, formerly unincorporated, will be developed by Cabin Properties LLC and Carl A. Schmidt Living Trust.
The mayor said the developers are giving a lot back to the community, including a community center that will be built and paid for by the developers, but will be personalized by the town.
They are also going to give the town a private transfer tax. Most towns in Summit County receive a 1 percent transfer tax every time a house is sold. Blue River does not.
“But the developer has agreed to give a half-percent private transfer fee to the town,” Backas said.
The other half percent will go to the homeowners association to help maintain the property.
Dominic Mauriello, interim town planner, said the development should net the town approximately $92,000 annually in additional revenue.
However, the project is not without detractors. It is seen by some as too much development, too soon, for Blue River.
“People want to keep Blue River as forested as possible,” said resident Carol Gerard.
But Janice Schmidt, a longtime resident and owner of the property in question, said that is her goal too. She bought the land with her late husband, Carl Schmidt, more than 20 years ago. She said ever since they first hiked around that property and soaked in views of Quandary Peak, they had a vision to one day develop the property, while maintaining the beauty of the land.
“This is more than just a development — it’s like a legacy,” Schmidt said. “We want other people to be able to enjoy this beautiful property and live in an affordable home. This is a place where people want to raise a family.”
Schmidt, who has worked as a registered nurse for 30 years, said she plans to live on the property. She has a house in the northwest corner. Some of the trails her family made through the landscape over the years will be implemented into the green spaces.
“I have a bear that hibernates on my property,” Schimdt said. “I have two female moose who come into my yard all the time. I want to preserve the beauty and wildlife here. That’s why the development keeps about half of the 50 acres as green or open space.”
In fact, according to the approved conceptual development plan, approximately 23 of the 48 acres are guaranteed to remain open/green space. It also contains a forest-management plan. And the 5-acre strip of the plan devoted to a medium-density residential area is placed adjacent to Skier’s Edge and Quandary Condos so as to better blend into the environment.
The plan even calls for creation of a bus stop in hopes the Summit Stage bus line will one day extend its route south to Blue River.
Backas said the changing demographics of the community have made the development a good step for the town.
“Blue River has changed,” Backas said. “This used to be just a second-home community. But now a lot of locals live here. More people live here full time than ever before.”
Backas pointed to demographic data showing that approximately 70 percent of residents live there full time. The only other Summit County town with such a high number of permanent residents is Silverthorne.
“People are looking to raise a family here and be part of the community,” Backas said.
And if everything goes according to plan, in the near future there’ll be room for about 68 new families to move into Blue River.
At least one pro cycling team will call Summit County home for the week leading up to this year’s seven-stage USA Pro Challenge cycling race. Representatives from the Jelly Belly Cycling Team told the Summit Daily Tuesday that its training base will be at Keystone Resort from Monday, Aug. 11, through Saturday, Aug. 16. In years past the team has trained in Evergreen during the week leading up to the Pro Challenge.
“Summit just makes way more sense,” team marketing and sponsorship manager Rob Quinn, a Summit County resident, said of the decision to move, adding that he hopes Keystone will be the team’s base for years to come. “Hopefully we’ll create some momentum and get more teams to come here every year.”
With only a week between the finish of the Tour of Utah and the start of the Pro Challenge, team manager and former Olympic cyclist Danny Van Haute said it was the logical choice.
“If you enter the USA Pro Challenge without any altitude training, you’re probably not going to be a contender,” Van Haute said. “You have to do it. It’s a must.”
Last year, 2013 Tour de France winner Chris Froome’s Team Sky riders chose to come to Colorado only a few days before the race and suffered the consequences. Both Froome and American teammate Joe Dombrowski eventually dropped out of the race. Dombrowski — who had persistent nose bleeds and dropped out prior to Stage 3 — and Froome cited a lack of acclimatization for their struggles. Froome held on until the race’s final stage in Denver.
As for this year’s Jelly Belly team, Van Haute said it’s “a stronger team than last year.” But as a UCI continental team it will have an uphill battle to contend with the strong international field.
“The challenge is staying with them on the hills,” he said of the pro field that includes a number of Tour de France riders. “They’re not coming here on vacation; they’re coming to win.”
He continued to say that while he doesn’t expect his team to be in contention for the General Classification (GC), he’s hopeful to be in the running for some podium finishes in the individual stages.
“We don’t want to be pack fillers. We’re an aggressive team, we want to compete. This is our Super Bowl of cycling. We don’t want to just sit on the sidelines,” he said. “If we can get Freddie (Rodriguez) on Peter Sagan’s wheel, he could have a chance to podium. If he wins a stage, it’s a plus for us.”
The week between the two races will be a recovery period for the team, with a number of shorter training rides. Van Haute said his team will plan to ride in the Summit County area and may look to pre-ride portions of the course.
Fun ride and kids clinic
As part of its week of training at Keystone, the Jelly Belly team will host a public ride and junior cycling clinic on Wednesday, Aug. 13.
“It’ll be really neat,” Quinn said. “It’s really cool when a team bases in the area.”
Free to the public, the ride goes up Loveland Pass in the morning and the team hosts a lunch and Q&A at Luigi’s Pasta House in Keystone Village. Following lunch team riders will host a kids cycling clinic to give area youths and visitors riding pointers on techniques and riding styles.
“We’re absolutely excited to have these athletes be here training with us before the Pro Challenge,” Keystone resort spokeswoman Laura Parquette said. “Allowing kids and families a chance to interact with these elite athletes is definitely an exciting opportunity.”
6 p.m., Dillon Amphitheater, 100 Lodge Pol. Support the Knights of Columbus Council # 14045. Admission is free but donations are appreciated.There will be a lindy hop lesson starting at 6 p.m. taught by Merle Schultz and Kristina Meadowbrook. General dancing begins at 7 p.m. The Knights of Columbus will provide complementary snacks.
Sweet Charity, A Musical Comedy
Dillon, July 29-31
6:30 p.m., The Lake Dillon Theatre Company, 176 Lake Dillon Drive. With a classic score by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields, and a hilarious but moving book by Neil Simon, Sweet Charity is one woman’s singing and dancing-infused story of searching for her self in 1960s New York. Tues, Wed, Thurs - $32 adults, $22 students; Fri, Sat, Sun - $35 adults, $22 students, Sun matinee.
Silverthorne, July 29
10 a.m., Silverthorne Pavilion, 400 Blue River Parkway. Venders include: $10 Vegetable bags by Miller Farms, fresh farm eggs, fresh fruit, jams, and salsas as well as novelty gifts and toys. If you would like to join the market, please contact Miller Farms at (970) 785-6133.
Wild West Nights
Keystone, July 29
5-8 p.m., Keystone Resort, 100 Dercum Square. Bike, hike or gallop over to the Keystone stables. Bike-in movie, brats & beverages available at the Giddy Up Grill. Try your hand at horseshoes or lassoing while enjoying free s’mores around the campfire. No charge just to tour the Stables and hang out by the fire. (970) 496-4000.
Family Night at the Frisco Adventure Park
Frisco, July 29
5 p.m., Frisco Adventure Park, 621 Recreation Way. All ages welcome for free activities for the entire family. Bring your own bike or rent one in town to try the Bike Park, pump track, and beginner skills course with instructors available for questions. Food and beverages available for purchase.
On Tuesday, July 29, Frisco will launch its “Step Up Main Street” construction project with a celebratory curb breaking.
Mayor Gary Wilkinson will start ceremoniously demolishing the curb at the intersection of Main Street and Madison Avenue at 5 p.m.
The public is invited to celebrate the start of the project with cupcakes and milk.
“Step Up Main Street” is a revitalization master plan for Frisco’s Main Street from Madison Avenue to Seventh Avenue. The project aims to improve infrastructure and create a more welcoming, safe and useable Main Street with more benches, updated lighting and pavers, and a widened sidewalk on the north side.
Parking along Main Street will stay the same.
The project also will improve drainage, safety and functionality and will be completed in four phases.
The first phase will begin in August and end in October. The second and third phases will be in 2015, from April through mid-June and then mid-September to October. The last phase will start in the spring of 2016 and end in mid-June.
“We chose to begin construction at the Madison Avenue intersection because it will be less disruptive than other phases of the project and will not result in a full street closure,” Wilkinson said in a press release. “We hope folks come out to celebrate our first Main Street improvement since the early ’80s.”
CDOT deeded Main Street to the town of Frisco in 1981, and the town made improvements in 1982, including sidewalks, on-street lighting, on-street parking and street furniture. Today, town officials say that infrastructure is aging and outdated.
“Main Street will fail sooner than later and cause larger impacts if it is left as is. By being proactive with the improvements, we can lessen the impact on businesses and the community as a whole,” said Tim Mack, the town’s public works director, in a news release. “We really appreciate the feedback we received from the community, and we will certainly be asking for their patience and flexibility as this project moves forward.”
For more information on the project, please call (970) 668-0836, ext. 9, or visit FriscoGov.com and look for the green link on the left side of the page.
Skiers and hikers who spend the night at a backcountry lodge in Breckenridge every year might not realize they’re sleeping in a monument.
Francie’s Cabin, one of four backcountry cabins operated by the Summit Huts Association, is named for Frances Lockwood Bailey, a former Breckenridge resident who died 25 years ago in a plane crash about 600 miles away.
On July 19, 1989, United Flight 232 was traveling from Denver to Chicago when the DC-10 lost all hydraulic power after the rear engine exploded. The crew used the remaining two engines to steer a winding course to Sioux City, Iowa, where the massive plane crash-landed, cartwheeling down the runway and bursting into flames before breaking apart in a cornfield.
The crash resulted in what’s considered one of the most impressive life-saving efforts in aviation history. Of the 296 people onboard, 184 survived.
That day, Bailey was traveling with two of her three sons, and both 6-year-old Brandon and 3-year-old Spencer survived.
Brandon Bailey, now 31, said although the hut began as a tribute to his mom, it has since evolved and taken on life of its own.
Staying at Francie’s Cabin unites people, he said. Skiers who snag open beds and share the cabin with a dozen people for the weekend often walk away with a bunch of new friends. And Summit County locals and visitors alike bond over the shared experience of staying at Francie’s.
“That’s ultimately what the hut is about,” he said. “It’s all about bringing people together.”
This Sunday, people will come together once again for Francie’s Cabin.
The Summit Huts Association will host a barbecue at Carter Park in Breckenridge Sunday, July 27, from 4 to 7 p.m. Besides food and drink, the event will also have a raffle and games.
The afternoon will be mainly a celebration of the hut, the people involved in creating and maintaining it and the people who’ve enjoyed it over the years, said Mike Zobbe, the organization’s executive director, but the event is also a fundraiser to replace the hut’s windows.
The nonprofit operates the huts on a fee-based reservation system and sometimes holds fundraisers to support large capital projects.
IN THE BEGINNING
The Summit Huts Association was started in the late 1980s by Breckenridge Mayor John Warner, Tim Casey, Abbie Cobb and other residents, said Leigh Girvin, the nonprofit’s former executive director.
Zobbe said the idea was inspired by huts in Europe. He described large shelters in the Alps that can sleep 100 people and are staffed by full-time caretakers who sometimes serve meals.
In 1990, the association built a hut, Janet’s Cabin, near Copper Mountain, then decided to build one south of Breckenridge Ski Resort. Francie’s namesake had deep family roots in Breckenridge, and the project was funded by her widower, Brownell Bailey.
Several sites within a half mile were chosen in the Crystal Lakes drainage area for the hut, said Paul Semmer, community planner at the Dillon Ranger District, who was involved with the Forest Service permitting process. He said officials ultimately decided on the hut’s current location because the other sites looked like they might be home to Canada lynx.
Breckenridge resident Kent Sharp, who also worked on the project from the Forest Service side, said the hut’s construction was a community effort.
“We all worked together to make sure that the footprint for the hut was really kept to a minimum,” he said.
Zobbe said construction was challenging after a couple tough winters. He remembered dragging tools behind him on a sled to build the hut.
The hut was completed in 1994 and hosted its first visitors in January 1995.
Semmer said Francie’s was originally designed to be a shelter for people traveling in the backcountry from hut to hut. It quickly became a place where people wanted to stay for several days.
Now Francie’s is the busiest hut in the state’s system, which includes about 60 huts and yurts. Brandon Bailey said he thinks it’s seen 60,000 visits in the last 20 years.
Francie’s sleeps 20 people in single and bunk beds. Though its supplies are basic, it has mattresses, pillows, solar-powered lights and a well-furnished kitchen. It’s heated and even has an attached sauna. And unlike other huts, where users have to bundle up and trek through the cold to an outhouse, Francie’s has indoor composting toilets.
“That’s the kind of thing that would’ve gotten Francie on a hut trip,” Brandon Bailey said.
He said his mom would’ve liked that the cabin is close to a trailhead and especially suited for families with kids.
Francie’s attracts all kinds of people, he said, from hardcore skiers and backcountry enthusiasts to people putting on snowshoes for the first time.
“One of the great things about Francie’s is that it’s relatively easy to get to compared to other huts in state,” Girvin said.
Sharp said the 2-mile hike in takes about an hour on skis with a pack on.
“It’s such a great hut for families,” Shelly Grail-Braudis, the Dillon Ranger District’s snow ranger, said.
She once went to the hut with several families for Easter, and they left the toys and electronics at home. The kids enjoyed wandering around with their skis on, “having the sort of adventures kids like to have,” she said.
Zobbe said it’s not unusual to see three generations of a family at the hut.
Visitors still need a good degree of avalanche awareness, but Francie’s is perfect for introducing kids and beginners to backcountry skiing because of the wide variety of nearby terrain.
Semmer added that because the hike to the hut isn’t as far as others, the hut also draws people snowshoeing in to snowboard.
Brandon Bailey, who now lives in Boulder, said he’s spent a weekend with friends and family there every year for the last eight years.
“It’s been really fun for me to see or hear about friends going on hut trips or their very first hut trip, especially,” he said. The hut is “more broken in then it was 20 years ago, which I think is great. Shows that it’s getting used.”
For many people, the trek to the hut might be the hardest thing they do in their lives, Zobbe said, and he’s glad the hut can provide that experience they might not otherwise have.
“It’s more than just recreation,” he said. “People really come to learn that they can do different things.”
Girvin agreed about the hut’s psychological benefits.
“There’s a great sense of accomplishment and reward when you arrive at the hut under your own power carrying your own stuff,” she said.
Semmer said the hut also gives people a chance to appreciate the nature around them. “This is a way of slowing people down a little bit.”
A few years ago, when the association was hosting an avalanche awareness clinic, he said, participants saw a lynx right where the Forest Service vetoed a location for the hut.
That was like a nice pat on the back, he said. Like nature was saying, “You made the right decision 20 years ago.”
It’s also proof that people staying at Francie’s have plenty of opportunities to see wildlife.
“We’re moving into Mother Nature’s backyard,” Semmer said. “If you wait long enough, she’ll give you a present.”
In the summer, the cabin has a different feel but is still busy with reservations. Grail-Braudis said she knows people who have had intimate weddings at the cabin.
“It really is a beautiful place to just go and enjoy the outdoors,” she said.
20 MORE YEARS
Because of the hut’s popularity, especially with young people, its large windows have taken abuse over the years.
“They’re just old,” Zobbe said. “Some of them don’t close completely.”
He said replacing them could cost $20,000 or more.
Grail-Braudis said the cabin just needs an upgrade. “Time for a little bit of TLC.”
In hindsight, Girvin, who directed the nonprofit for 14 years and oversaw Francie’s construction, said she wished the organization had spent more money on the original windows so they wouldn’t need to be replaced so soon.
Though she wouldn’t call it her favorite of the huts, “Francie’s is definitely one of my babies,” she said, adding that she breathes a sigh of relief every time she visits. “It’s kinda like coming home again.”
“Francie’s Cabin, at 20 years old, she’s an enduring girl,” she said, “and I hope she’s around for many years to come.”
You’re deep in the backcountry, your cellphone’s nearly dead and you seem to have just lost the barely distinguishable trail you were on not too long ago. It’s getting dark. The hike you planned took longer than anticipated. Hunger and thirst are becoming increasing concerns. The granola bar and water bottle you brought are both long gone. Panic starts to set in.
Unfortunately it’s a scenario that’s been all too common for the men and women of the Summit County Rescue Group in an already busy summer.
Getting on the wrong trial, not recognizing an intersection on the return trip or losing the trail altogether — coupled, perhaps, with a long, tiring hike — an under-prepared hiker can easily find himself or herself in trouble. Add to that an even minor injury and the cause for concern increases dramatically.
In light of three separate incidents on the same day on Quandary Peak earlier this week — and a number of others across the state — we spoke with three of the rescue group’s mission coordinators — Charles Pitman, Jim Koegel and Ben Butler — to find out a little more about just how busy this year has been and what tips they have to avoid a potentially dangerous situation.
Three incidents at the same location in the same day is unlikely, Koegel said, but increased trail use has kept the group busy.
“This summer is unique in that it’s one of the busiest summers we’ve ever seen,” he said, describing a 30-day period earlier this summer that included 19 separate calls. “Some years that’s more than a summer.”
Koegel suggested that the group’s busy season might be a part of a trend toward more summer trail use in the area — especially among hikers who have relatively little outdoor experience.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Pitman — who is also the group’s spokesman — said the nature of rescue incidents seems to vary year by year, but this year has leaned more heavily toward lost hikers than injured ones. Calls have been particularly common on trails in the Gore Range. Substantial deadfall on the trails has made some routes in the wilderness area difficult to distinguish, he said.
Butler suggested the first step to preventing potential rescue situations is to “start hiking early in the day in the summer. That’s probably the biggest piece of advice.”
Often those who require rescue find that they are on the trail longer than anticipated, and fading daylight becomes a factor.
Early starts are especially important when tackling a 14er. Koegel recommended being back below tree line by 1 p.m. due to the consistent threat of afternoon storm systems. Lightning fatalities made news recently in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Both Butler and Pitman stressed preparation prior to hiking. Knowing the trail or route before leaving is especially important.
“Try to do as much research as you can,” Butler said. “Stay within terrain you’re comfortable with.”
Even highly trafficked routes like the one up Quandary can be dangerous. Pitman said that in many years it’s the site of the majority of the group’s calls.
While it’s often rated as an easy hike, Butler reminds hikers that it’s still a 14er and that the trail becomes less distinct toward the summit. Veering from the trail can lead to potentially precarious and highly technical descents. Proper footwear is strongly encouraged.
“Quandary gets that reputation of being an easy hike, but it’s really not,” he said. “It’s easy on the 14er scale.”
In addition to knowing the trail, Pitman reminds hikers to be properly equipped. He said it’s fairly common to see people out on longer hikes wearing just shorts and cotton T-shirts.
Synthetic is always a better option because it will keep a hiker warmer even when wet. And with rapidly changing weather, extra layers are a virtual necessity.
“We see a fair number of people that have hypothermia in the summertime,” Pitman said, explaining that in the winter people are more likely to be prepared for cold.
Having a headlamp just in case a hike takes longer than expected is also a good idea.
“I think a lot of individuals misjudge how long a hike is going to take,” he said. “If you can stay dry and warm and you have a headlamp, you’re already ahead of a lot of people.”
Proper preparation becomes especially important should a hiker become lost, because rescues can take anywhere from a few to several hours or more — even when GPS coordinates are known.
In order to be better prepared, Pitman stressed either shutting a phone off or using airplane mode while hiking. With spotty cell phone service in the mountains, phone batteries drain at a much faster rate while searching for a signal. When hikers call for assistance, he said, their batteries are frequently near dead — making maintaining contact more difficult.
With a working cellphone, rescuers are often able to get the GPS coordinates of a lost hiker’s location, making rescues faster — assuming the lost person knows to stay in place.
Another common mistake is not bringing enough food along or staying properly hydrated.
“Once you’re low on energy, you start making bad decisions and more often than not you compound the situation you’re in,” Pitman said. Add to that encroaching darkness and “there’s a propensity to make ‘hurry up’ decisions” that can often further worsen the situation.”
Perhaps most important, Butler said, “Have a good sense to call for help early. Don’t wait until it’s dark.”
He reminded hikers that in the state of Colorado, rescue service is free — provided there is no need for an ambulance or a life flight — a fact he said may not be common knowledge.
“We’re a volunteer organization that is more than happy to come out and help.”
The Summit County Rescue Group is run in association with the sheriff’s office, and dispatched through 911.