Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Breckenridge seeking volunteers for USA Pro Challenge

#Breckenridge, Colorado

Thousands of spectators will line streets throughout Summit County when the USA Pro Challenge zips through in August. People will stand shoulder to shoulder, leaning up against barriers to get a glimpse of the pro riders as they blaze by on their way to glory.
While many will be content with this brush with the race, others may be looking for something more. Fortunately, there is ample opportunity to become involved with the race on a more intimate level.
Event organizers are seeking hundreds of volunteers to help with the event — everything from working along the course to involvement with ancillary events. Young or old, family groups or individuals, there is a job for everybody.
The main event
This year, Breckenridge will host two Pro Challenge stages — a Stage 2 finish Aug. 20 and a Stage 3 start Aug. 21. This is the first year the town is responsible for two stages, meaning that an even larger number of volunteers is needed to see that everything runs smoothly.
Fran and Barry Lazarus are the volunteer directors of the Breckenridge Local Organizing Committee. They are drawing on their experience from last year to fill the volunteer positions.
Volunteers will be assigned a position after they sign up. A person can request a specific assignment, though receiving it is not guaranteed. The sooner a person signs up, the more likely it is that he or she will get a requested position.
“We try to do our best, but we can’t accommodate every request,” Barry Lazarus said.
The majority of volunteers in Breckenridge will serve as course marshals at various points along the race. Marshals work with the police department to ensure that the racecourse is clear for the riders.
“A course marshal primarily is there for crowd control and to make sure that no one interferes in any way with the riders as they come through,” Barry said. “We don’t want anyone to jump out to snap a photo or throw anything in the path of the riders.”
Volunteers ambassadors are also needed. This opportunity is open exclusively to Breckenridge residents and requires them to walk around the event, answering questions from visitors about the town — good places to eat, for example, or where a certain street is.
Other volunteer opportunities include setting up and breaking down, parking monitors, hospitality and assistance with ancillary events. Volunteers will receive a t-shirt and a goody bag as a thank you for participating. The Lazaruses estimate they will need about 300 volunteers for the first day and just over 200 people for the second day.
With the exception of the Breckenridge ambassadors, volunteers can be from anywhere, including outside of Summit County and even outside of Colorado.
“It’s not just Summit County or even Denver. It’s from all over the country really,” Barry said, adding that volunteers from Texas and other states have already signed up.
In addition to shirts and swag, volunteering has its perks, said Barry. “It’s a great way to watch the race. You’re right there.”
Zero waste
The High Country Conservation Center (HC3) is also seeking volunteers to help with the recycling and composting at the event. The nonprofit will have “zero waste” tents set up throughout the event area, with designated containers for recycling, compost and trash. Volunteers are needed to make sure the right objects go in the right containers and to transfer full containers out.
“We want to have more volunteers involved and help guests understand where to place their waste and recyclables and compostables so we get as little stuff in the landfill as possible,” said Cassidy Callahan, programs coordinator for HC3.
Callahan emphasized that HC3 volunteers won’t simply be standing around, but have a chance to interact fully with the event.
“There’s lots of walking around and interacting with people there,” she said. “You’re not stuck in a corner by any means. It should be a real cool event.”
Volunteering for HC3 is a good option for families with kids who want to be involved in the event but not in the more intense aspect of course marshal. When volunteers sign up, they can choose which shift they want (shifts run from two to two and a half hours long) and they can even request to be stationed near other friends who are volunteering.
“We want anyone to be involved, whether they’re from out of town, here for the weekend, or just want to get the inside scoop on these events,” Callahan said. “If someone’s new to the area, it’s a great way to meet other people. We’re really flexible and encourage anyone to sign up. We just want to have fun.”
Assisting along the course
While course marshals in Breckenridge will stand along the course in the town limits, the Stage 3 start will take riders out of Breckenridge, over Swan Mountain Road, onto Highway 6 and through Dillon and Silverthorne, heading onward to the finish in Steamboat.
The Silverthorne Police Department is looking for volunteers to assist police officers at intersections and other access points along the Silverthorne section of the route.
“We just want to make sure that we have all of the access points onto the route covered by a volunteer, so a person doesn’t walk out or a car doesn’t drive out into the course inadvertently,” said Silverthorne police chief Mark Hanschmidt.
No experience is needed. Volunteers will be given safety vests and training beforehand. At crucial intersections, volunteers will stand alongside police officers.
“This will be a really great way for people to be able to see this race up front and personal,” Hanschmidt said. “They’ll be standing in front of the barricades and able to really see these riders firsthand.”
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

USA Pro Challenge to cause highway closures in Breckenridge, High Country

#Breckenridge, Colorado.
Drivers will see delays and road closures across the state the week of August 19, as the USA Pro Challenge, one of the biggest road bike races in the country, pedals through the High Country.
Transportation officials warn that the more than 1 million spectators expected to attend the event and closures to accommodate the teams could cause heavy traffic volumes on highways.
In Summit County, Highway 9 north over Hoosier Pass to Breckenridge will be impacted from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 20 and north to Kremmling from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 21 as the bike race moves through the area.
Competitors will complete Stage 2 of the race in Breckenridge the afternoon of Aug. 20 and leave the following morning bound for Steamboat Springs for Stage 3.
Transportation officials say to the extent possible, closures will be kept to a minimum and highways will be reopened as quickly as possible after teams leave an area, but drivers are still encouraged to plan their trips in advance — whether they are planning to watch the race or not.
Daily road closure information will be made available online at or by phone by calling 511. Drivers can also receive real-time information on highway delays and closures related to the race by signing up for email and text alerts from CDOT at
Suggested alternate routes and answers to frequently asked questions are also available online at
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Monday, July 29, 2013

Officials present big plans for I-70

#Breckenridge, Colorado.

Traffic congestion on Interstate 70 is only getting worse and the Colorado Department of Transportation doesn’t have near enough money to tackle the problem.

Parsons Corporation, a major international engineering and construction firm, does have that kind of money. The firm gave the Department of Transportation an unsolicited proposal for improving the I-70 corridor in 2011. That got the ball rolling on a public-private partnership, and things are starting to get serious.
On Tuesday, Parsons Program director Ralph Trapani and Department of Transportation I-70 Mountain Corridor manager Jim Bemelen met with Eagle County commissioners about the big ideas that are already in the planning stages in anticipation of a 2021 completion date.
“This is a very, very aggressive schedule,” Bemelen said. “It’s unlikely, but the project could be completed by 2021.”
Three phases
The proposal is a three-phase project that would add tolled express lanes and a bus rapid transit system along I-70. The express lanes would be reversible to accommodate peak traffic flows to and from the mountains.
The project would also straighten some curves on the interstate and resurface the existing lanes. Tunnel bores would have to be added at places such as the Eisenhower Tunnel, and parts of the new lanes would be suspended like the current highway is through Glenwood Canyon.
“We are very concerned about minimizing the footprint as much as possible,” said Trapani, who spent the bulk of his career working for the Department of Transportation. “There are only two locations where the express lanes would be built outside of the median.”
The Department of Transportation recently completed a feasibility study for an advanced guideway system (think high-tech trains capable of fast speeds). Less than a year ago, proposals were being considered and plans outlined hopes for a similar timeline of completion around 2025.
“The feasibility study determined that’s not going to happen at this time,” Bemelen said. “An AGS can’t pay for itself is the dilemma we’re finding.”
Trapani said the Parsons project will lay the groundwork for a future advanced guideway system.
“With the express lanes, there would already be a platform in place where the AGS could be installed,” he said. “Also, the BRT system will help you gauge ridership. Having an established ridership in place is good to have before you build something like an AGS, instead of starting with no ridership.”
Paying for itself
With the partnership between the Department of Transportation and Parsons, both entities are taking an equal financial risk and CDOT has the opportunity to back out if things fall apart, Trapani said. That gives Parsons a deep incentive to make sure the project is successful.
“We’ve actually been working on this since 2007,” Trapani said of the corporation’s early studies.
Parsons developed a sketch-level financial model in 2010 that “proved to be very promising” and then submitted an unsolicited co-development proposal to the Department of Transportation in 2011 on the same day CDOT published rules for submitting unsolicited proposals.
Cash surplus
The total estimated cost of the project is estimated around $3.5 billion. The 50-year gross toll revenues are projected to be $8.6 billion with a surplus cash flow of $502 million after costs and debt service are accounted.
Trapani said those numbers were calculated very conservatively
“It’s unique to have a project like this have a cash surplus,” he said.
Trapani said when the interstate was built through Glenwood Canyon in the 1980s and ’90s, federal funds paid for 92 percent of it.
“Those days are gone and now we have to come up with ways for projects to pay for themselves,” he said.
He said tolls for the I-70 express lanes would be dynamically priced, meaning tolls would be more expensive during peak demand.
“With max pricing, a trip from Denver would cost about $26,” Trapani said. “How much is your time worth — do you sit in gridlock traffic or pay, knowing you can maintain 60 mph to your destination?”
Congestion on the free I-70 lanes will be slightly relieved by people using the toll lanes as well, Trapani added.
“Not much, though,” he said. “Those will continue to get worse for traffic.”
County concerns
Commissioner Sara Fisher said the project sounds like a great idea but wondered if it considers the impact it would have on ski destinations such as Vail.
“It will bring more people here but where are we going to put them?” she asked. “We’ve already reached parking capacity in Vail.”
Trapani said the toll and the BRT system would naturally encourage carpooling and bus ridership.
“People won’t want to pay for two cars,” he said. “There are some ideas to resolve some of your concerns.”
Right now, the Department of Transportation is waiting on more studies. Assuming that all goes well, design and construction is slated to start at the end of 2016.
Meanwhile, traffic keeps getting thicker on I-70, Bemelen said.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Breckenridge braces for Pro Cycling Challenge

#Breckenridge, Colorado.

The world’s best pro cyclists will be traveling 683 miles through the Rocky Mountains on one inch of rubber in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge — and making a stop in Summit County along their way.
The race is expected to be one of the largest spectator cycling events in America, and Breckenridge has been chosen as a race host for the third year in a row.
The weeklong race will be taking place between Aug. 19 and 25.
Breck is a major stop along the epic race route. The world’s top athletes will cross the Stage 2 finish line on Main Street on Tuesday, Aug. 20. They’ll have a night’s rest, then head back to Main Street at 9 a.m. Wednesday to begin Stage 3.
The Breckenridge Local Organizing Committee hosted a meeting on Thursday evening to go over race details and help community members start planning for the nationally acclaimed cycling event. Organizers cautioned community members to be prepared for traffic impacts and road closures in Summit County during the race.
Race organizers said they are trying to get the word out to the community beforehand so no one is caught off guard by delays.
“We’re trying to do everything we can possibly do to make sure that no one is shocked that this thing is happening,” said Lucy Kay, event co-chairwoman.
Despite impacts on the community, “we think in the long haul it’s well worth it,” she said.
A variety of activities will coincide with the Pro Challenge as it arrives in Breckenridge.
Riders aren’t expected to come through the finish line until about 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 20, but the Finish Festival will start at 1 p.m. and include bike stunt shows, a hand-cycling competition and junior street sprint finals.
A free concert by Railroad Earth will conclude the festivities at 5:30 p.m.
Another string of activities will kick off at the “Start Village” at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21, including strider races, bike stunt shows and pond-crossing competitions.
Spectators can bid farewell to the racers at 11 a.m. on Main Street, near Blue River Plaza as they start Stage 3.
Earlier in the morning, Pro Challenge cyclists will be gathered in the Tiger Dredge parking lot warming up, event organizers said.
“That’s a great scene for people to walk around and see the riders and get autographs,” said Jen Cawley, a co-chairwoman for the event.
Spectators can find a spot anywhere along on Main Street or Park Avenue to watch the cyclists as they embark on Stage 3. This will be one of the best vantage points to see the action, organizers said.
During race day, there will be three JumboTron screens set up throughout town broadcasting the action as it happens. A screen at the Riverwalk Center Lawn will offer live viewing and nightly film features the entire week of the U.S.A. Pro Cycling Challenge.
Road closures will be distributed through the SCAlert system. The county website will offer text alerts regarding road closures for anyone who signs up. The Colorado Department of Transportation and Breckenridge Police Department will also be announcing road closures.
Assistant police chief Greg Morrison said his department will do everything it can to be considerate of community members in Breckenridge and in impacted neighborhoods, while taking the safety of the riders into account.
“We have to make absolutely sure that the course is safe, it’s closed and there’s no debris on the roadway before we let riders come in,” Morrison said.
Additional information about the event, including parking, race routes and road closures, can be found at
Summit Daily News reporter Jessica Smith contributed to this article.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hummingbirds of Summit County: Look for broad-tailed, Rufous and Calliope this summer

#Breckenridge, Colorado.

Hummingbirds are easily the most fascinating of all birds, entertaining everyone with their high-speed aerial acrobatics, diminutive size and brilliant colors. You won’t find this amazing bird in Africa, Europe or Australia, either; the 320 or so species of hummingbirds are found only in the Western Hemisphere.
Hummers, who get their name from the high-pitched hum of 90 wing beats per second, are unique in many ways. They are the smallest of the world’s birds, have long, thin bills and iridescent colors and fly like no other. Hummingbirds move their wings in a figure eight pattern, giving them the unique ability to fly backward, sideways and vertically, as well as forward, hover and even fly upside down. Their heart rate can reach 1,200 beats per minute, and they can zip through the skies at 60 miles per hour.
Winter skiers won’t find hummers here, but summer residents and tourists can enjoy three species in Summit County’s late summer: the broad-tailed, Rufous and Calliope.
Broad-tailed hummingbird
The broad-tailed is Summit County’s only nesting hummingbird, comfortable in the High Country of Colorado and nine other western states. In Colorado, broad-tailed hummingbirds arrive when glacier lilies bloom in the spring and return to their central Mexico wintering grounds as fall approaches. As is the case with all hummingbirds, males disdain family ties, mating with as many females as possible and letting the single-parenting ladies build the nests, incubate the eggs and feed and raise the young. Male hummers are playboys of the bird world.
They may be irresponsible, but the males are strikingly handsome, with long tails, emerald green crowns, back and white collars and ruby-red throats and face gorgets. Also, a uniquely notched primary wing tip provides a distinctive ringing sound when a male zips nearby.
Rufous hummingbird
Significantly smaller than broad-tailed hummingbirds, Rufous hummers belie their penny weight with an aggressive chip-on-the-shoulder attitude. The brightly copper-colored males are playground bullies, hogging flowers and feeders, and fan their tails as they fearlessly buzz away intruders. Sharing is not their nature. Rufous hummingbirds are tough in other ways, too. This is a bird that flies from central west Mexico to the Pacific Northwest, western Canada and Alaska to breed and holds the hummingbird migration record with a recorded 2,800-mile trip. Males are the color of polished copper with a gorget that, depending upon reflected light, can be green, red or gold. In Summit County, Rufous hummingbirds show up in July, hang around to rest and fuel up for the long trip south and disappear as fall arrives.
Calliope hummingbird
We are particularly fortunate to have this summer visitor, since the Calliope is the smallest bird found north of Mexico. The Calliope nests in western mountains from Utah to British Columbia and, like the Rufous hummingbird, is a Summit County migrant passing through from July to fall on its way back to Mexico. However, you will see far fewer Calliope hummingbirds than Rufous, making each sighting special. This is a quiet and shy bird, named for the Greek muse of epic poetry, not the big, noisy music machine, and is easily driven away from your feeder by our other two hummers. The female can be differentiated from other hummingbirds by a tail shorter than her wings, which can be seen when perched. The male is unmistakable, with a stunningly streaked magenta and white gorget.
You can attract and enjoy all three of these beautiful birds by hanging hummingbird feeders in your yard or, if you live in a condo, on your deck. Inexpensive feeders are available at many local stores, and you can make your own artificial nectar by boiling four cups of water with one cup of sugar. Clean and refill your feeders once a week, and don’t add food coloring. To minimize conflict and give the little Calliopes a chance, put up several feeders in different locations. With bullying Rufous around, you’ve got to level the playing field!
Bob Bowers is a freelance writer specializing in nature and travel articles. He writes a birding and travel blog,; email:
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Friday, July 26, 2013

Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra and National Repertory Orchestra join forces

#Breckenridge, Colorado.

The National Repertory Orchestra will present its annual joint concert with the Breckenridge Music Festival on Saturday, July 27, at the Breckenridge Riverwalk Center.
Carl Topilow, music director of the National Repertory Orchestra, and Gerhardt Zimmermann, Breckenridge Music Festival music director, will jointly conduct the performance. Works to be performed at this concert include Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 in A Minor (IV. Finale), Richard Strauss’s “Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks” and Zoltan Kodaly’s “Hary Janos: Suite.”
The National Repertory Orchestra is considered one of the country’s finest summer festival programs, and its alumni perform with virtually every major and regional orchestra in the United States and in orchestras worldwide. The Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra, a chamber orchestra of 45 to 50 players, presents a five-week Summer Festival program at the Riverwalk Center for five weeks in July and August.

Orchestras unite
The joint concert between the National Repertory Orchestra and Breckenridge Music Festival came about because of longtime supporter Jack Thomas, who, with his wife, Pat Thomas, has season tickets to both orchestras. They have lived in Breckenridge for nearly 11 years. Since moving here, Jack Thomas has been involved with both orchestras and felt it would be a great opportunity to have the orchestras play together.
“I was on the board of Breckenridge Music Festival and approached them and said, ‘Would it be possible to do a joint concert?’ and they said, ‘Great idea!’” Jack Thomas said. “So I went to the National Repertory Orchestra and said that I would help financially to support the project. It’s a great opportunity — when you have two orchestras in town, I think it’s nice to have them play together. And, they usually get to play great repertoire.
“The Breckenridge Music Festival, as a chamber orchestra, can’t do some of the things that the National Repertory Orchestra, a larger orchestra, can do. When you put the two together, there is a broader selection of music with both, and we always end up with a great program and fill the house. It’s something my wife and I really like to support.”

The music
Zimmerman will open the joint concert with the final movement of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 6. This symphony is often referred to as the “tragic” symphony and is also well known for the three “hammer blows” that occur near the end of the fourth movement. Alma Schindler, Mahler’s wife, quotes her husband as saying that these were three mighty blows of fate befallen by the hero, “the third of which fells him like a tree.” Though the symphony lives up to its nickname as being extremely tragic, the last movement also contains glorious and soaring moments in the music that attest to the bittersweet nature of life.
After a brief intermission, Topilow will lead both orchestras in the wild ride that is Strauss’s “Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks.” The 15-minute tone poem introduces the audience to Till, a German peasant folk hero and prankster. Both the horn and the D (normally played on E-flat) clarinet play themes that represent Till. The horn plays a difficult ascending theme, high in its range, until it ends in three long, low notes. Crafty and wheedling, the clarinet theme depicts Till’s trickster side.
The concert closes with Kodaly’s “Hary Janos: Suite,” which is from a “Hungarian Folk Opera.” The suite tells the story of a veteran horseman in the Austrian army in the first half of the 19th century. Kodaly wrote in his preface to the score: “Hary is a peasant, a veteran soldier who day after day sits at the tavern spinning yarns about his heroic exploits. ... The stories released by his imagination are an inextricable mixture of realism and naivety, of comic humor and pathos.”
Amy Skjerseth is the marketing and public relations intern with the National Repertory Orchestra.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Courage Classic event at Copper raises money for Children’s Hospital

#Copper Mountain, Colorado.
Behind every participant in the Children’s Hospital Colorado Courage Classic bike ride is another person — a family member, friend, patient — who has been affected by cancer. Sometimes those people are literally behind them, on a regular or a tandem bike, or their photo is pinned to the back of their jerseys.
This was the case with Silverthorne resident Wesley Knight, riding alongside his daughter Amanda Stevens. The two had a large photo of their family friend, 14-year-old Ian Tuthill, pinned to their backs. Tuthill lived next door to them for about 10 years when they lived in the Denver. He was diagnosed with and succumbed to osteosarcoma last year, so Knight and Stevens dedicated their ride to him.
This is the 22nd year of riding in the event for Knight, who pedaled in the very first ride back in 1990. In fact, he was the top fundraiser for that first event, bringing in $6,000. Last year, his fundraising efforts put him at 98 of 2,000 other riders.
“It’s such a great cause,” Knight said. His purpose for attending the event is to do what he can to help the Children’s Hospital. “That’s my main goal — just to get out and ride with Amanda and do something worthwhile.”
Years of courage
Last weekend marked the 24th year of the Courage Classic event, in which 2,000 riders from all over the state and country gathered in teams or individually, on all sorts of bikes — from road and mountain bikes to recumbent bikes and tandems — to ride 155 miles over three days to raise money for the Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver.
Over the years, the event raised a total of $28 million dollars. This year pulled in one of its highest amounts — $2.24 million so far, with fundraising continuing until Aug. 31.
This was the first year that Copper Mountain has hosted the event, with the ride starting and ending at Burning Stones Plaza, and featuring live music and a bike expo. A shorter route option was also added this year for families or people who didn’t feel up to the longer ride. Day one featured an 80-mile course starting at Copper and passing through Leadville and Vail, then taking riders up over Vail Pass on the way back to Copper. A second ride led bikers through Silverthorne to Ute Pass and back for a total of 58 miles.
The second day included a 31-mile family bike ride from Copper to Silverthorne and back along the recpath and a 42-mile course around Dillon Reservoir to Keystone and back. Monday finished the event with a 33-mile ride to Breckenridge and back to Copper.
“The physical challenge is climbing up the mountain, climbing up in elevation and just pushing yourself,” Amanda Stevens said. “There’s a lot of support, a lot of volunteers that help you through the race with encouragement, and the other riders are helpful too, as they’re passing you,” she said, laughing.
Though many of the riders came from Denver and the Front Range, they weren’t too worried about the climb in elevation.
“What altitude?” shouted one member of the Med Head Gear ’Eads team from Denver.
Doctor Jodie Mathie, a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital with Cherry Creek Pediatrics, has been involved in the event for 21 years. In the first year, Mathie noticed that only a few Children’s Hospital doctors came out
“So I made it my mission to get more hospital people involved and more doctors,” she said. That led to the creation of the Spin Doctors team, which became one of the event’s largest teams, “until the lawyers arrived,” Mathie said with a laugh, referring to the Wheels of Justice team, made up of attorneys, which is now the largest team. The doctors’ team, now called Gears of Courage, is still large, with about 140 members
“That makes me smile,” Mathie said.
She remembers one Courage Classic event in particular, back in 1994, when the doctor team dedicated its ride to a patient they called “Wonder Boy Greg,” a 10-year-old diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, who had a 10 percent chance of making it. When TV reporters interviewed team members, they mentioned Greg, who happened to be watching it during his chemotherapy treatment. According to Mathie, he turned to his parents and told them that he wanted to ride in the event next year. Eventually, he recovered, became a lawyer and has been along on many rides since.
“It was a really special thing that I have just never forgotten,” Mathie said.
Chris Hugget, a Denver resident and 7-year participant, is just one of many people inspired by the children behind the ride.
“When you see this many people get together for a common cause, you just feel that there’s a chance for mankind,” she said. “Just the concept, kids with just a limited amount of time and they choose to be here. I mean, time is priceless and these kids are out here raising money, these kids are out here riding … The fact that they’re out here doing it, it’s unbelievable. If these kids can do this, we have a responsibility to get out here too.”
Children and doctors weren’t the only hospital workers at the event, either. Representatives of the Youth And Pet Survivors (YAPS) program, which pairs children with cancer together with dogs with cancer, had several riders and animals along with them. Spree, a three-legged Lab mix, drew plenty of glances as she galloped happily through the lunch break area at Trent Park in Silverthorne on Saturday.
Each person on each bike had his or her own story of personal connection, commitment, suffering and love.
Mathie summed it up best.
“I think almost everybody has at least one special person they’re riding for.”
For more information or to donate, visit
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Summit Historical Society unveils new history lecture series

#Breckenridge, Colorado.

Anyone who says that history is old, dusty or dead has never seen a live performance designed to shine a spotlight on characters and stories from the past.
This is exactly what the Summit Historical Society plans to do with its new series called “Pastry and the Past.”
The series, which begins today, July 22, features a weekly hour-long historical lecture paired with desserts. While previous history-related events in Frisco have been held during the day, Christy Nelson, of the Summit Historical Society, hoped to create an event that the working, touring crowd could easily attend.
“The concept … was something that could attract those who can’t make it to other venues that are during the day because they’re just too busy or too active,” she said.
For the pastry portion of the evening, Nelson rounded up friends and locals with good baking reputations. Each lecture will feature a spread of homemade desserts.
While the pastries feed the body, the words of the lecturers will feed the mind.
Bringing the past to life
The first lecture of the series will be given by Sandie Mather, who is well known among all three Summit County historical societies for her vast knowledge of area history and for her portrayals of historical figure Anna Sadler
Mather first came to Summit County in 1979, drawn by the area’s geography and history, to finish her dissertation in the field of historical and physical geography. Since then, she has returned often, splitting her time between Summit County and her job as professor emerita at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. She has written 13 books about the history of Summit County, including “They Weren’t All Prostitutes and Gamblers,” which addresses the topic of women in the county.
While writing the book, Mather came across the diary of Sadler, a woman from the Midwest who moved to Breckenridge with her husband.
“I was so excited,” she said of the find. She used what she found in the diary’s pages to finish her book and, eventually, take on Sadler’s persona at historical events, even dressing to fit the part.
“I used her diary, I used what I knew about the women who lived here, (and) I used the newspaper because the society editor constantly talked about what these women were doing, so I could put together her life,” Mather said.
One of the best aspects of a live performance, rather than simply a reading or discussion, Mather said, is that it really brings to light all the differences between past and present.
“They (the audience) really have no idea what it was like to live out here. It’s just such a different world,” she said. “We pick up cellphones; they waited weeks for a letter to get from home.”
Through her years of research, and her access to Sadler’s personal diary and thoughts, Mather feels that she can accurately portray the historical figure.
“Oh yes, I can become Anna. I can really think what it was like,” Mather said. “I can empathize.”
In addition to performing as Sadler, Mather will give two other lectures — a presentation on the saloons of Summit County and a lecture on the geology and vegetation of the area.
The series’ second lecture will be given by local historian and author Bill Fountain, who will discuss prospectors seeking gold in east Breckenridge from the 1890s to the 1920s.
Rick Hague, another local historian, will present two lectures — one on the hard-rock mining days of the 1880s and ’90s and the series’ final presentation at the end of August on the history of Summit County’s Washington Mine.
All of the presenters have done vast amounts of research on their topics, Nelson said.
“I’m pretty excited about the whole series,” she said.
An hour before the performances, most of which take place at the Dillon Community Church, the Dillon Schoolhouse will be open to those interested in visiting.
“The schoolhouse is incredibly interesting,” Nelson said. “It is set up as it was back in 1883 when it was built.”
While children are certainly welcome at the lectures, the presentations are more intellectually geared toward adults, she said. The series is free for Summit Historical Society members, while nonmembers are asked to give a donation.
“All of the proceeds will go to the Summit Historical Society, with our mission being to preserve,” she said. This includes a number of buildings throughout the county, which the society has worked to preserve. “Our goal also is to educate and to disseminate the incredible history that’s here, to share (it) with folks. I was a person who’s lived here 10 years, and until this year, I really didn’t have an appreciation of the incredible history.
“I know there are a lot more folks out there who live here and just don’t know. So that’s my hope, to not only provide for the historical society and our preservation projects but to also educate.”
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Tall tales at Washington Mine

#Breckenridge, Colorado.

The life of an average early miner involved about 10 hours of work per day, six days a week, in dark, tightly enclosed, wet and often dangerous conditions.
“If they were working in the wintertime, quite often they would go into the mine right when the sun is coming up, and get out of the mine when the sun would be setting. So they were pretty much in the dark for months at a time,” said Gordon Brownlow, a guide with the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance.
Visitors at the Washington Mine site on Saturday learned about the history of mining in the West, viewed mining relics, toured inside a mineshaft, learned some tricks of the trade and even learned about miners’ superstitions.
“In Colorado, you drive by the sites where all these old mines were and you wonder, ‘Who were these people, and what did they do and why did they build these funky looking structures?’” Brownlow said. “I think people are happy to learn what it really means.”
Upon retiring after 30 years in television, Brownlow decided to find out more about his family’s mining history.
“I got interested because my family originated in England. They were Cornish miners and moved to Montana, where they became gold miners.
“I’d never really understood, except for pictures that I’d seen,” he said.
The historian was so fascinated by the stories and history of mining, in 2007 he joined the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance to help them tell stories of early day mines.
Now he takes guests back in time at Washington Gold and Silver Mine near Breckenridge. In the mid-1880s, Washington was one of the area’s largest mines, with five main shafts and over 10,000 feet of underground workings.
A pay rate of about $3 per day attracted miners to the West. That compared with about $1 or $2 a day in Eastern Coal mines, Brownlow said
But the work was far from glamorous. Every day before heading into the mine, workers would grab a brass coin-shaped piece with a number on it. Workers would return the coin to the board after each shift. This helped supervisors keep track of who was down in the mine at certain times, in case of an explosion or cave-in.
Upon coming up from the mine, workers would go to a changing room to get out of their wet clothes.
“But the mining company had a bigger reason for it,” Brownlow said. “They were worried about the miners stealing their gold.”
Some of the miners got smart and made false bottoms in their lunch pales or their hats — someplace where they could hide a nugget or two, Brownlow said. “Or they might swallow a small nugget and deal with it later.”
Miners were very superstitious. Tommyknockers, the spirits of departed miners that live in the mines shafts and tunnels, are a big part of mining folklore.
“If you didn’t feed them or talked bad about them you’d have cave-ins or lose tools or might not find the gold and silver you were looking for,” Brownlow said.
“Tommyknockers were very valuable to miners lives,” he said. “Miners used what they knew from working in the mines all of their lives, but they attributed it to their superstitions about the Tommyknockers.”
Anyone interested in hearing more mining tales can sign up for a tour through the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance.
Becky Harney and Jean Morgan were two in a group of about eight women from Louisville on the mine tour Saturday morning.
“We are both volunteers for the Louisville historical museum. Learning about what’s happening in other places helps us to understand what’s going on in our place,” Harney said.
The women said they appreciated the work Brownlow and the Heritage Alliance were doing to educate visitors about Breckenridge’s mining history.
“It’s so wonderful to see people that are interested in helping other people understand history and preserve what we have from our past,” Morgan said.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Summertime snow spotted at Loveland Pass

#Breckenridge, Colorado

Travelers driving over Loveland Pass did a double take as they witnessed snow falling onto the mountainside on Thursday.
The flakes came down between 2 and 5 p.m. in the afternoon, said Frank Cooper, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Less than an inch of snow fell down to about 11,000 feet — above the timberline — and melted quickly, he said.
“It was just a trace of snow, but it made for a nice picture,” Cooper said.
Between the second week of July and the third week of August is the most uncommon time of the year to see snow in the high Rockies, according to local weather experts.
“It’s not really, really rare — but it is unusual,” Cooper said.
The Colorado Climate Center doesn’t track historical data about summer snowfall in the area, but climatologists said they’ve had many reports of people seeing snow during the summertime in the High Country.
“They think it is remarkable and unprecedented,” said Nolan Doesken, the state climatologist at the Colorado Climate Center. “But it has happened and will happen. ... It’s a huge surprise for newcomers, and it’s less of a surprise for folks who have been around for a long time.”
What is rare are big, soft snowflakes falling in the summer months.
Doesken said he has inkling the “snow” that fell yesterday is more likely to be what weather experts refer to as graupel — a pyramid-shaped ice pallet.
“It’s not really pure snow,” he said. “It’s more like a soft hail.”
The precipitation yesterday was likely spurred by a thunderstorm.
“The bulk of our summer precipitation throughout July and August is what we call convective — bubbles of warm air rising,” Doesken said. These updrafts form clouds and initiate precipitation. Then, when downdrafts occur, they take the very cold air from up in the clouds and bring it down to lower elevations.
“Thunderstorms cause air temperatures in the mountains to drop rapidly, sometimes causing snow,” Doesken said.
Meteorologist Cooper said he doesn’t expect any more snow to fall in or near Summit County in the next week.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Friday, July 19, 2013

Breckenridge PRCA Rodeo rolls out championship bull-riding event

#Breckenridge, Colorado

1,800 pounds of bull.
140 pounds of cowboy.
8 seconds.
That’s the math for today’s bull-riding championship event at the Breckenridge PRCA Rodeo. While the rodeo has featured bull riding every weekend since its start in June, this event will feature the country’s top riding professionals atop the best bulls in the business.
The championship event was specifically timed in order to fall before the Championship Bull Riding world finals in Cheyenne, Wyo., catching many of the professionals while they’re in the area.
“We timed this stop so they could stop here and have a chance to win in Breckenridge on their way up to Cheyenne,” said Brad Bays, event promoter for the rodeo.
The bulls have come in from 11 different states. They are top stock and each one costs upwards of $100,000.
“They’re superstars in their own right,” Bays said, “and just to be able to see them is pretty neat.”
Like the riders, the bulls have their own set of judges, professionals who travel to rodeos all over the country specifically to judge bulls. Evaluation categories include intensity, kick, spin and drop, Bays said. The best three bulls from today’s event will win $15,000.
“We’ve seen a big demand for bull riding and of course we do that every weekend, but we only do a total of around 10 bulls in our PRCA rodeos,” said Bays, “so this brings in a lot more bulls, a lot higher prizes and just more entertainment for the crowd.”
In addition to riding, today’s event will pit bull against clown. It’s a contest of speed, smarts and agility for both human and animal. After loosing the bulls into the arena, the clowns will dash around with them, gaining points for each feat, such as touching a bull on the head, spinning a bull in a circle or even jumping over one.
“If he times it right, he can clear the whole bull,” Bays said.
For the fun of it
The riding event will feature a total of 56 bull riders competing for a $7,600 first-place prize. Fifty-one of them are professional rodeo performers; the other five are local Summit County residents who are doing it not for money or fame but simply for fun.
One of the locals is A.J. Pestello, 20, of Breckenridge. He started riding bulls during high school and has jumped at every opportunity since, from practice pens to rodeos. Getting the chance to test his mettle against prime bulls has him excited.
A rider quickly gauges the quality of the bull he’s on, Pestello said. “When he comes out of the chute, … you’ll know on his first jump if he’s going to come out kicking and jumping high or if he’s going to be flat and run around low to the ground.”
Pestello repeats his mantra — “mind in the middle” — in the final seconds as he’s waiting on top of the bull in the chute. While he admits to feeling nervous in the week leading up to an event, once he gets to the arena, “I’m calm and ready to go.”
Rules require each bull rider stay on top of his bull for a full eight seconds. While this might not seem like much to someone sitting in the stands, for those on top of the bull it feels a lot longer.
“It’s an eternity on the back,” Pestello said.
Fellow local bull rider Alan Mikkelsen agreed. “Eight seconds is a long time,” he said, drawing out the “long.”
Still, for someone like Mikkelsen, from Pass Creek Ranch in Silverthorne, who’s in the saddle at least half the day, bull riding is a great way to blow off some steam. The 30-year-old has been riding bulls since he was 17.
“I took an eight-year break and, for some reason, I just couldn’t get it out of me and I started riding again last summer,” he said, referring to Breck’s inaugural rodeo.
While Mikkelsen won’t be competing professionally or for the prize money, that doesn’t mean he’ll be taking his rides any less seriously.
“Every time you tie into a bull, you’re trying to make it the best ride of your life,” he said.
Both Pestello and Mikkelsen said that the adrenaline rush is what keeps them coming back for more.
“For me, the challenge of trying to go stride-for-stride with something — and not break its spirit but still hang with it — the adrenaline rush you get from it is like nothing I’ve ever experienced,” Mikkelsen said. “Bull riding is a sport of its own.”
Full weekend of events
The championship bull riding kicks off yet another weekend of Breckenridge PRCA Pro Rodeo events, from mutton busting and calf scramble for kids up to professional barrel racing and roping and wrestling events.
Those showing up at 4:30 on either of the three days can seize the opportunity for a free “Behind the Chutes” tour. Spectators can get a glimpse of the rodeo behind the scenes, see the bulls and horses and learn about all the aspects that make up a rodeo.
“It’s just going to be good entertainment for the whole family,” Bays said.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Black bear seeks refuge in Breckenridge Golf Club tree

#Breckenridge, Colorado.

As locals and golfers at Breckenridge Golf Club sought temporary shelter from the bombardment of rain drops on Monday, so too did a black bear.
The bear, which was estimated to be a 250-pound 4-year-old, sought refuge in a tree on the fifth hole of Breckenridge’s Bear Nine layout in the Tiger Run neighborhood.
The bear was first discovered by a neighbor of Meigan Canfield’s.
“Our neighbors texted us and said there was a bear in their tree,” Canfield said. “Our neighbor was walking their dog when the bear just moseyed out in front of them. I think it may have gotten startled a little because it jumped up into the tree and was 60 feet in the air in no time.”
Word about the wildlife-viewing opportunity spread quickly and before long a small group of residents and visitors had congregated near the fifth hole to snap photos. Canfield, who has resided in Breckenridge for 13 years with her family, was among the photographers, but she opted to shoot her pictures from the safety of her neighbor’s house.
“I’ve only seen a bear one other time and it wasn’t from this close,” Canfield said. “It was about 20 feet away.”
Luckily, the close encounter wasn’t enough to startle the bear.
“It wasn’t really freaked out at all,” Canfield said. “It just sort of looked at me while I was taking pictures of it, then it took a nap for a while.”
On Wednesday Mike Porras, public information officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said it was fortunate there weren’t any incidents Monday in Breckenridge. Although Parks and Wildlife officials encourage people to take advantage of wildlife opportunities, Porras said those should be conducted from a safe distance, and no one should approach any wildlife, especially bears.
The problem is the human tendency to want to feed wildlife — but becoming accustomed to human-provided food is essentially a death sentence for bears, Porras said.
Providing bears easy access to trash, tossing food to bears or even hanging a bird feeder outside a home become hazards not necessarily because of the content, but because bears are opportunistic feeders with great memories.
“Bears do not hunt people; they’re natural instinct is to avoid us, but if they become comfortable it can be a danger to humans,” Porras said.
Bears may not actively hunt people, but because they are wild animals they can act unpredictably, Porras said, especially when cornered, startled or feeling threatened. A bear that becomes reliant on human-provided food is more likely to be involved in an incident with people, and it is Parks and Wildlife policy to put down a bear after only one incident of aggression against humans.
“We encourage people to discourage bears to become comfortable around them, but it is a wonderful wildlife viewing experience,” Porras said. It basically comes down to three simple rules, “don’t feed, don’t approach and don’t harass bears.”
And those rules go for all wildlife species, Porras said.
The public is encouraged to report bear sightings to a local Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer. Acts of aggression should be reported immediately.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Summit County’s highest peak gets mountain face-lift

#Breckenridge, Colorado.

A trails project on Quandary Peak will have volunteers rising early to scale the mountainside, performing “old-world” trail techniques above the treeline on one of Colorado’s most popular hiking destinations.
“One of the big attractions of this project is it gives people not only from Summit County but all over Colorado the chance to work on these iconic peaks,” said Coby Gierke, field programs manager for the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative.
The shear numbers of hikers who scale the peak makes it more vulnerable to damage.
“It’s one of the busiest Fourteener trails in the state and a lot of the damage that occurs there is related to the traffic,” Gierke said.
The Colorado Fourteeners Initiative works to protect and preserve the natural integrity of Colorado’s 14,000 foot peaks through active stewardship and public education. They are teaming up with the Friends of the Dillon Ranger District to make a mark on Quandary Peak on Saturday, July 20.
Trail project organizers said volunteers will help protect native plants found at Quandary — a unique High Alpine ecosystem sensitive to disturbances.
The trails at the peak formed by hikers, coined “social trails,” hurt the environment.
“They weren’t designed with sustainability in mind, they were created by people trying to get from point A to point B,” said Teddy Wilkinson, Friends of the Dillon Ranger District project coordinator.
The nonprofits have been working to reroute trails at Quandary Peak to more rocky areas with less native plants.
“We can direct the user impact to places that are more durable and harder to damage over time,” Gierke said.
The Fourteeners project manager said the organization designs their projects to be accessible to anyone.
“We try to provide a variety of work options for folks on these projects,” he said.
Tasks will vary from heavy-duty work for people who want to be exhausted at the end of the day, to helping collect seeds and transplant native plants along the trail.
“We can find work for every one,” Gierke said.
Wilkinson took part in the Quandary event as a volunteer last year. He describes the project as one of the more “physically intense” projects the Friends group embarks on throughout the season. But, he said, anyone who can hike up the trail should be fit to contribute to the project.
Volunteers will use traditional dry stone masonry techniques to build staircases, retaining walls and other structures to help maintain the integrity of the main ascent trail.
The “old-world” type of construction uses similar techniques to those found in Roman and Old English architecture. Volunteers will use the same principles that keep ancient structures standing today, Gierke said.
No mortar, concrete or adhesive is used to bind stones together. Instead, volunteers will use weight of the stones to pin them together.
“The construction techniques we use are built to a standard where they will last 50 to 100 years,” Gierke said.
The atmosphere at the project is described as serious but fun.
“We set a culture that we are serious about what we are doing and we want to make a difference,” Gierke said.
Project organizers said they want volunteers to have a good time while being aware of the inherent risks of trail work in high elevations. Some areas will be unstable and steep, and volunteers will be transporting heavy, bulky materials, Gierke said.
“These people are here because they have passion to improve and preserve these special places,” he said. “We want them to be careful and safe up there.”
It’s important for people to get involved to protect the unique high-alpine environment on Quandary Peak, FDRD’s Wilkinson said.
“We want to instill a feeling of stewardship for public lands for all of our volunteers,” he said.
The nonprofit representatives said at the end of the day volunteers should feel empowered they made a lasting impact on the sustainability of one of Colorado’s most popular hiking destinations.
“We all love these trails and really value having assets like the Fourteeners trails in our community — but these trails don’t build these themselves,” Gierke said.
“I want volunteers to feel like they’ve made a lasting contribution,” he said. “The work they do is going to be there for a long time and make the trails better.”
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Orchestra on the radio

#Breckenridge, Colorado.

The Breckenridge-based National Repertory Orchestra is partnering with Krystal 93 Radio to present a live broadcast of one of its most popular concerts, “Topilow Pops.” Tune in Friday at 7:30 p.m. to hear the pops program, featuring maestro Carl Topilow and soprano Margo Watson.
This is the first time that the National Repertory Orchestra has presented a live broadcast of a concert.
“The pops program is always a sellout, so the radio broadcast is a great way to share it with people,” said Douglas Adams, CEO of the National Repertory Orchestra.
Krystal 93 is the radio station of the Rockies, serving Summit County on 93.9 FM, Eagle County on 93.1 FM and Clear Creek County on 92.3 FM. It also streams online to listeners around the world at
“We are very excited about this new partnership with the National Repertory Orchestra and are looking forward to giving more people the opportunity to experience an NRO performance by broadcasting the show live,” said John O’Connor, general manager of Krystal 93. “This is truly local programming at its best.”
Each year, the National Repertory Orchestra’s “Topilow Pops” concert is one of the audience’s favorite concerts; children and adults alike will enjoy music from Broadway musicals, The Beatles and recent Disney films such as “Enchanted.”
“Carl Topilow has crafted a program which moves from classical pops (Pachelbel’s ‘Canon,’ considered to be one of the most beautiful pieces of music in the history of mankind) to music from the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’” Adams said.
For more information about the National Repertory Orchestra, visit
or call (970) 453-5825.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Breckenridge Ski Resort's Peak 6 expansion project commences

#Breckenridge, Colorado

Breckenridge Ski Resort's biggest expansion in the last decade is officially underway.

Construction started to create 543 acres of new terrain in the Peak 6 area of Breckenridge Ski Resort, Vail Resorts announced Wednesday.

The Peak 6 expansion project will stretch the amount of skiable terrain at the resort by almost a quarter. The project will include 400 acres of lift-served terrain and 143 acres of hike-to terrain. The resort also plans to add a high-speed, six-person chairlift and a fixed-grip chairlift to access the Peak 6 area.

Peak 6, located within the resort's special use permit boundary, is the first ski terrain expansion on U.S. Forest Service land in Colorado since 2008 and the first at Breck since the Peak 7 expansion in 2002.

The 543-acre terrain addition is slated to open for skiing and riding for the 2013-2014 ski season.
“This is one of the most notable ski area enhancements in the past decade,” said Rob Katz, chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts, in a press release. “The new expanded terrain will feature high-alpine, intermediate bowl skiing — a rare find among our eight world-class resorts and in North America. This is an exciting season on the horizon for Breck and our company.”

The resort currently features four peaks, encompassing 2,358 acres. Within the skiable area, there are five terrain parks, two halfpipes and eight bowls. The resort also boasts the highest chairlift in North America.

The process for approval for the Peak 6 expansion project began with a scoping in 2007.
The U.S. Forest Service approved the project in August 2012 in the form of a Record of Decision, after completing a Final Environmental Impact Statement. The decision was appealed, but after further review the Forest Service decided to uphold its approval.

The appeal was filed in October 2012, raising issues that the project violated NEPA, violated the Forest Plan direction on scenery, and did not adequately evaluate the loss of backcountry skiing or the location where backcountry access gates might be located.

The Forest Service said an appeal-deciding officer reviewed the concerns and affirmed the White River National Forest supervisor’s decision to approve the project.

The project has also raised concerns about degradation to lynx habitat.

Vail Resorts and environmental nonprofit Rocky Mountain Wild compromised over concerns the expansion project would damage the local Canada lynx population in late May.

The Denver-based organization decided not to move forward with litigation when Vail Resorts agreed to increase its contribution to the National Forest Fund, which was established to address lynx habitat improvements in Summit County. The company agreed to pay $425,000 toward lynx conservation in Summit, representing $125,000 on top of its original pledge.

“There’s always going to be some conflict between nonprofit and private industry,” Matt Sandler, staff attorney at Rocky Mountain Wild, said in an interview on May 31. “This demonstrates a situation where we could find some common ground and put our time and resources toward a beneficial cause.”

Vail Resorts representatives said they will announce the projected opening day for the Peak 6 lifts and terrain during the early winter season as construction comes to a conclusion.

“We are excited to be underway with the construction of this important project, and will work with the USFS to keep the public updated on additional information in regard to public safety as the project moves along, especially as it relates to recreational access in the area,” said Pat Campbell, SVP and COO of Breckenridge Ski Resort, in a press release.

As part of the construction process, the USFS has issued an official Forest Supervisor Closure for the Peak 6 construction area closing all roads and trails within the area for the duration of construction. The closure applies to pedestrians, wheeled motor vehicles and all other forms of motorized and non-motorized travel. For more information on the closure, contact the Dillon Ranger District at 970-262-3484.

Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Doing good deeds, pulling bad weeds

#Frisco, Colorado

Marie Roberts, 84, and Stewart Coffin, 83, took time out of their weeklong summer vacation to dig in the dirt and do a good deed.
The former Summit County resident invited her friend Coffin, who’s from Massachusetts, for a getaway in the High Country.
So far, the highlight for Roberts has been reuniting with friends and checking on the flower garden she helped to plant at the Summit County Community and Senior Center. Bicycling at Copper Mountain Resort has been a major highlight for Coffin.
Their vacation plans also included taking part in the “Pulling for Colorado” noxious weed removal event.
“I told Stewart that one of the things we would be doing when we came here was to do the big weed pull,” Roberts said. “It makes you feel good, and you know you are able to contribute.”
Coffin said he’s been gardening since he was 8 years old, so he’s no stranger to working outside.
“Whenever I see a weed I have an inkling to pull it, so it comes naturally,” he said. “It gets in your blood after a while.”
About 50 volunteers contributed to the event on the Frisco peninsula on Saturday. It was a joint effort involving the Summit County weed control department, the Forest Service and the Friends of the Dillon Ranger District. The Friends of Breckenridge Trails group also hosted an event to help eradicate noxious weeds at the Cucumber Gulch preserve.
Stephen Elzinga, a range technician for the east zone of the White River National Forest, was on site pulling weeds at the Dickey Trailhead event.
“I’m pitching in to help out and show that the Forest Service appreciates everyone coming out,” he said.
Event organizers and volunteers scoured the trailhead and surrounding areas for noxious weeds.
“It’s good to see their enthusiasm,” Elzinga said. “Some good work was accomplished. I’ll be doing the followup weed control in this area, and they just made my job a lot easier.”
Friends of the Dillon Ranger District volunteer Sue McHenry said she’s been part of every local Pulling for Colorado event. She said over the years more agencies and volunteers have gotten involved, and they’ve been able to make a big difference in stopping the spread of invasive plants.
The mix of volunteers at the weed pull included senior citizens and children, longtime locals and part-time residents, from weed-removal experts to novices.
McHenry said volunteers teamed up to help educate one another. People who weren’t familiar with local weeds weren’t afraid to ask questions and learn from the veteran weed pullers.
“They’ve been asking, ‘What’s this?’ ‘Can I dig this?’ ‘Should I bag this up?’” McHenry said. “Years from now they are going to be the knowledgeable ones leading the volunteers.”
Local weed experts said looks can be deceiving when searching for noxious species. Volunteers pulled up sharp and nasty-looking weeds such as the musk and Canadian thistles. But they were also tasked with picking a prettier-looking plant.
“The false chamomile looks like a daisy, and a lot of people have them in their gardens because it looks ornamental,” said Ryan Cook, with the Summit County weed department.
Even though the plant looks nice, it can have devastating effects to the environment, taking out local species as it disseminates seeds.
“They are a noxious weed that can spread all over the county and get very invasive,” Cook said.
Volunteers made big strides toward protecting the popular recreation area from being taken over by weeds. The knowledge they take home will be equally as valuable, Cook said.
“The education these people take home to their family and neighbors and friends is exponentially beneficial to us beyond what we are doing out here today,” he said.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Get started with gold panning in Summit County

#Breckenridge, Colorado

There’s something appealing about sloshing a pan of dirt around in the frigid meltwater from mountain peaks, your fingers turning a painful cherry red, for the chance of finding colors in the pan — the tiny, elusive bits of flour gold that are so small you have to gather them up with an eyedropper.
“It’s gold fever — the hope of getting rich,” said Betsy Tomlinson, who co-owns Country Boy Mine in Breckenridge with her husband, Doug.
 “I see it with people when they find one piece.”
The couple purchased the historic Country Boy Mine nearly 20 years ago to open as a tourist attraction, where guests can now venture nearly 1,000 feet into the underground, hard-rock mine before trying their luck gold panning and visiting the burros and other attractions.
“We have an underground spring in the mine that goes by the vein structure that is constantly replenishing our stream,” Tomlinson said. “We named it Eureka Creek. People pan in the stream, and we find gold every day — not every person, but every day. It’s a lot of fun.”
The biggest piece they’ve found to date was the size of a grain of rice.
The right equipment
For gold pans, which can be purchased at Country Boy Mine along with other parts of the panning toolkit, Tomlinson prefers metal.
“They’re sturdier, and you can use them as a shovel,” she said, although “a lot of people swear by plastic because of the riffles,” which are designed to catch the gold. With the metal pans, the rust serves as a riffle, she said. On cold days, panners can work their material indoors at the blacksmith shop, and on sunny days, there are views from the stream. “The technique is easy because it’s fill, shake, splash,” she said.
What’s not always easy is the patience required. In any case, it’s a chance to experience Colorado history.
“The streams here still have a little gold in them,” said Dave Philips, jeweler at Summit Gold in Frisco, who has tales of folks using metal detectors for some good finds. “I won’t name any names, but one guy with a metal detector, five or six years ago, found three nuggets, which are very unusual up here. Between them, they weighed 2.5 ounces.”
Although he has panned for gold and owns a sluicebox himself, Philips said that “it is the hardest work you will ever do, guaranteed. You’ve got to have a good back. The bottom line in gold panning is numbers. Even if you’ve got a good spot, the more dirt you go through, the better you’ll do.”

Thrill of the hunt
Gold panning is about “the thrill of finding a big nugget,” said Gary Beaderstadt, of the Gold Prospectors of Colorado, host of the annual Colorado State Gold Panning Championships, which took place in Breckenridge last year and will be in Cripple Creek this year. Participants compete in speed panning, skill panning and dry panning.
But it’s also about the camaraderie, Beaderstadt said. The group hosts outings on its four claims along the Arkansas River and six claims in Fairplay, where members pan for gold, learn about equipment such as the Desert Fox — a machine that separates gold from the black sands for you — and help one another out.
“We all realize that we are not going to get rich — but you never know when you are going to find a big nugget,” Beaderstadt said.
For an exhibit about mining techniques that includes gold panning, check out the free, self-guided Frisco Historic Park and Museum at Second and Main streets in downtown Frisco. Both Breckenridge Ski Resort and Keystone Resort offer faux “gemstone” panning for tots, along with other summer activities.
The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance also hosts two sites that offer mine tours and gold panning. There’s panning in the creek at Lomax Placer Mine on Peak 8 and a sluicebox panning experience at the Washington Gold and Silver Mine in Illinois Gulch.
“It’s not easy,” said Cindy Hintgen, operations manager for the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance. “That’s why there are very few millionaires.”
But it still makes for a fun day in the sun, and she reminds families not to forget the sunscreen.
“Practice” is the key to success, according to Stephen Medlin, a bearded and grizzled prospector who leads tours at the Lomax Placer Mine. Medlin has hunted gold around the world since the 1970s. But as for his Summit County finds, he remained tight-lipped.
“Why give away the keys to the bank?” he asked.
“Even though we didn’t find any gold, we found other cool stuff,” said Tessarae Harris, of Kansas, who panned for gold in the Lomax Placer Mine stream with her brother Malachi on July 6. “This is the most mud I’ve ever played in.”
“For the price, this is a really good time,” said her grandmother, Danita Jones. “What do kids like to do better than to play in the mud and the water?”
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Free live music runs Friday and Saturday in Dillon

#Dillon, Colorado
The town of Dillon is hosting free concerts at the amphitheater and free live music at the Dillon Farmers’ Markets throughout the summer, and this weekend is no exception.
Victor Andrada will start things off at the Dillon Farmers’ Market on Friday. Browse wares from local and regional vendors and artists while tuning your ears to Andrada’s mix of easy-listening acoustic folk, jazz, blues, country and Latin.
Too Slim and The Taildraggers
The town of Dillon will welcome critically acclaimed Too Slim and the Taildraggers to the Dillon Amphitheatre on Friday as part of the Friday Night Concert Series. Too Slim and the Taildraggers is an American blues-rock band formed in 1986 and hailing from Spokane, Wash. The band currently consists of Tim “Too Slim” Langford (lead vocals, guitar), Polly O’Keary (bass, vocals) and Tommy Cook (drums).
Too Slim and the Taildraggers are a hit around the world with their impressive delivery of blues and rock music. If you’re into Stevie Ray Vaughn, then you’ll dig the sounds of this Pacific Northwest favorite.
Moses Jones
Colorado’s own Moses Jones will play at the Dillon Amphitheatre on Saturday as part of the Sunset at the Summit concert series. The Moses Jones band is a 12-piece dance band with a high-energy, talented stage show. The band features a full four-piece horn section, five-piece rhythm section and three vocalists, who provide a wide range of musical entertainment delivered as only the Moses Jones band can.
Following the performance will be a fireworks memorial to celebrate the life of Connie Gruber, presented by her husband, Jerry.
Dillon Amphitheatre concerts feature food and beverage concessions and are free to the public. Outside alcohol and pets are not allowed.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Volunteers to gather in Breckenridge to realign the Sidedoor Trail

#Breckenridge, Colorado

Those who have hiked around the network of trails in Golden Horseshoe near Breckenridge will likely know the Sidedoor Trail. From French Gulch and the town of Breckenridge, the trail winds up to connect with the Prospect Hill summit, affording sweeping views of the town and surrounding areas.
Recently, the trail has come under scrutiny for its upper portion, which covers a very steep section of ground.
“There’s a portion near the end of it that’s unsustainable,” said Chris Kulick, Open Space and Trails planner for the town of Breckenridge. “It’s very steep, not a very enjoyable experience.”
Despite its difficulties, the trail remains fairly well traveled for multiple-use recreation, from hikers and dog walkers to bikers and horse riders in the summer, and cross-country skiers and snowshoers in the winter. Its popularity comes from its direct access to Golden Horseshoe and its network of trails.
It is for this reason that Sidedoor was chosen for this year’s collaboration between the town of Breckenridge’s Open Space and Trails and Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC), taking place at the end of the month. Each year, the two organizations get together for a volunteer project that benefits Summit County’s environment in some way. Previous years have seen campground restoration, tree plantings and, in 2005, restoration of the lower portion of the Sidedoor Trail.

Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado
Since 1984, VOC has spread its mission of outdoor stewardship throughout the state. To do this, it relies on volunteers of all ages and walks of life to provide manpower to its various projects, like the one in Summit County this month. While the organization has a staff of 12, its ranks swell to the thousands when counting volunteers.
“It really doesn’t matter who you are, or whether you know anything about the environment at all — you can still help,” said said Ann Baker Easley, executive director of VOC. “Whether you’re a kid or a mom or a dad or a single person, young or old, VOC can find a spot for you, no matter what.”
Easley has held her position with the VOC since 2007. Before that she spent more than 10 years at the Colorado Youth Corps Association, which she helped found. It was the VOC mission that caught her interest, she said.
“For me, the idea of doing (outdoor stewardship) with people just giving freely of their time through volunteerism was a really compelling idea, a compelling mission,” she explained. “Colorado’s resources are such that we really need people to be engaged in that. So it was an incredibly exciting opportunity to (join) and build on all of the connections and efforts I had been doing years before that with the state.”
In recent years, the organization has focused increasingly on how to get the state’s youth involved with its stewardship and volunteer projects. Easley estimates that at least one third of VOC volunteers in 2012 were under the age of 18.
“We’ve really adapted our work effort so that a family can come out and a family can spend just part of the day coming out, so we’ve seen a much greater increase in families coming together and volunteering for a day or part of a day,” she said.
By making the volunteer projects more accessible and more numerous, the organization has been able to increase its impact statewide.
In another effort to involve Colorado’s youth, VOC is hosting its first Youth Stewardship Summit in early August. The summit, which takes place in Black Hawk, is a four-day camping trip to educate high school-age teens about stewardship, outdoor recreation, environmental education and leadership training. Participants will take part in fly-fishing, ghost town tours, hiking, habitat restoration, invasive species removal, trail maintenance and historic preservation during the day and listen to campfire speakers on topics of wilderness leadership, environmental ethics and astronomy in the evening.
Those wishing to participate can transport themselves or take advantage of buses provided by the VOC at its various partnership offices throughout the state. Those closest to Summit County are the Eagle/Vail and Salida/Leadville offices. Applications for the summit are due by July 12.
While people often associate VOC with trail maintenance, many don’t realize that the VOC offers much more than that, Easley said. “We have a lot more diverse opportunities.”
Choosing to volunteer not only helps the environment, but benefits the volunteers themselves as well.
“People can go back, years and years later and see exactly what they did, whether that’s a trail that they built or a wetlands that they restored or a tree that they’ve planted in an urban park,” Easley said. “There’s something really tangible about that.”

Sidedoor and Summit
The Sidedoor Trail realignment project will draw volunteers not only from Summit County, but from across the state as well. Ellie Jordan, VOC project manager for the Sidedoor project, said that between 65 and 95 volunteers will be traveling to Breckenridge for the weekend of the project and camping out overnight by the ice rink. Plans are in place for some free music on Saturday and breakfast will be served both mornings.
“It’s just a lot of fun and you get to meet people from all around the state who are like minded and interested in getting outdoors,” Jordan said. “We all use the trails in Colorado and it’s (only) a day. We provide the logistics and the tools and you don’t have to do anything but show up and help break a little trail.”
While many VOC projects are open to all ages, the physical exertion necessary for hiking to the site and breaking the new trail is likely too much for anyone under 13 years of age, Kulick suggested. “It’s definitely fairly physical.”
But beyond the physical capability, all else anyone needs is simply the will to volunteer.
“That’s one of the great things about it. Someone that’s wanted to volunteer but doesn’t know anything about trail building will learn a lot over the course of the weekend,” he added.
Those interested in volunteering can sign up on the VOC website, although the group will certainly welcome walk-ins throughout the weekend. The feeling is one of ‘the more the merrier.’ The goal is to get between 125 and 150 volunteers to get the project done in just two days.
“Having that critical mass of people really just helps it happen,” Kulick said.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News