Copper Mountain Colorado

Welcome to Copper Mountain, Colorado! A little less than two hours West of Denver and like all of Colorado it's breathtaking! 

I had never seen Colorado in the middle of winter and believe it or not this was my VERY first ski trip! I was watching little kids fly past me as I was learning the term pizza-ing and I couldn't help but blame my parents for not taking me skiing when I was younger. Of course, I never knew I was missing out because instead we were camping, hiking and fishing. A much cheaper option for a family of six! Don't worry, I don't blame my parents, (Mom) but just think how good I could have been!? 

We left for Colorado at 5am with ten people, in two vehicles and it took us well over the eight hours, but you can't pass up Chick-Fil-a for breakfast! We finally rolled into Dillon, Colorado around 4pm and headed straight to get our ski rentals at Christy Sports and got all set for the following day at Copper

TaraShupe_Outdoor_Photographer_Loweprobags_Colorado_Copper_Mountains_Ski_02.jpg

DAY 1: Snow Globes & Face Plants

The first day at Copper Mountain was the most beautiful! Fresh snow was falling all day and even though it was cold, I felt like I was in a snow globe. In terms of skiiing...I was putting ski's on for the first time in my life. And although I was very proud of myself for getting back up after my 100th time falling, I wished the beautiful powder day had happened on my third day. 

Everybody in our group was super excited to get on the mountain. Here is Kelsi with her crooked googles. 

I never thought much about actually taking ski school and instead Kelsi's husband Brandon was the most patient human ever as he taught me, and two others how to ski. On our first hill I was terrified! I wanted to quit so bad, but it was so gorgeous and I wanted to stay surrounded by it so bad...so I did...by taking THREE hours to finish my first run!

I did ski the whole time with my Lowepro bag the whole time, does that count for anything? 

After lunch I was exhausted from my first half of the day but really wanted to get back to the pretty snow globe so I agreed to go on an "easy" one with Collin. It was going pretty good, but everything was still terrifying to me even as I was gaining more confidence. I learned gaining confidence just means you go faster, and going faster means falling harder, and the more tired I became the crazier, faster and harder the falls became. An endless battle really. 

Let's just say I ended that run with a grand finale crazy face plant/knee twist that had me crying the rest of the way down. I even had a guy point and laugh at me from the ski lift...come on guy! 

On the shuttle bus back to our car I swore to Collin I would never ski again...he just laughed. 

DAY 2: Sunny Skiing 

TaraShupe_Outdoor_Photographer_Loweprobags_Colorado_Copper_Mountains_Ski_29.jpg

Day two at Copper Mountain was nothing like our beautiful snow globe day, but this time I knew what to expect. I started the day out on the run I had ended the day before in tears and finished in half the time and with only a few falls! 

TaraShupe_Outdoor_Photographer_Loweprobags_Colorado_Copper_Mountains_Ski_30.jpg

It was also a lot busier that day and families were everywhere. The photo of the man walking up the stairs was one of my favorites, as he told me he was a back country skier and I thought, man I would love to ski with that guy. I should have asked him for his life story...

When a break is needed, just throw snow. 

I sat at the bottom of one of the hills and photographed snowboarders and skiers flying down one of the hills and I loved watching them, they were all so fearless. 

As the day was ending the sun was casting a warm glow on the snowy mountains and I had to stop one last time in the parking lot and take this shot. I believe winter Colorado is my favorite Colorado. 

DAY 3: Favorite Ski Day

So, day one was the most beautiful and exhausting, but day three was my favorite ski day! Collin and I decided to ski just the two of us and I was excited this time instead of nervous. 

We even went down the run that took me three hours the first day and I did it in less than 30 minutes! I understand that is still bad, but I felt in control and most of all I was having fun! 

I also loved getting to the top of the lift with the wind blowing snow everywhere and the grand view of the Rockies in the distance. I knew this would probably be my last time so I sat down and watched as the skiers came in on the lifts and made their way to the different runs. I sat there in all my warm ski clothes and thought, dangit...turns out I do love skiing. 

DAY 4: Snowshoe hiking!

We had originally planned on snowmobiling, but when a group of ten doesn't book ahead you're likely to get reservations, so those plans went out the window. The group that hadn't gone skiing on day three went skiing and a few of us decided on snowshoe hiking! 

It was actually one of my favorite things and if you've never tried this you should! It was a learning curve getting all strapped in, but once you're in you're good to go. Going backwards is a whole different story though...

We ended up hiking for several hours on a trail that started right on the edge of Copper West and took us on a big circle through trees and fields. If you're wanting to try something else with the family or just get a great workout, I really recommend it. We laughed the entire way as we would randomly fall or see how far we could get in the really deep snow. (The key is high knees!) 

Until next time Colorado and maybe we stick to rock climbing next time! 

-Tara 

Hatchers Pass, Alaska

I welcome you to one of my favorite days in Alaska - Archangel Valley in Hatchers Pass! 

You can read about my first day in Talkeetna, Alaska here, but Archangel Valley was our second day and by far one of my absolute favorites! 

After leaving our camp in Talkeetna I really had no idea what Hatchers Pass was going to hold for us, but after about an hour drive the views started changing and I was dying over the fog rolling in around the mountains.

This was the drive up to the Archangel Valley trail head. We stopped a few times next to some rushing rivers and saw people picking wild blueberries, which made me worried bears have to be around! 

After paying the day parking fee we packed our day bags and headed off on the dirt road/trail. We only saw one jeep that had actually drove up the road, I don't think it was recommended.

As we started walking I was surprised at how winded I was feeling and got dizzy as I tried pretending NOT to take deep breathes as my in shape (soon to be) sister-in-law was trying to talk to me. It's like when you're running with a friend and you're doing all the talking and you wonder why you're the only one out of breath! (Maybe that only happens to me?) 

So I let myself fall back at my own pace and be the "photographer", which is always a good excuse to go a little slower. But really, I'd like to challenge somebody to keep up with this athletic duo!

Oh wait, they're gone again!

Now going at my own pace, I would stop for as long as I'd like and sit with the mountains. I watched the clouds roll by in one spot for thirty minutes or more before I felt like I could move on. So, if you're wondering I'm a great hiking partner for all you newbies :) 

We caught up with each other at the fork in the path and ate a few snacks as we talked about the plan. Our "plan" was to find a climbing area called, "The Jungle Gym" and my brother was having a hard time deciding which valley it was hidden in. We even came across some other climbers and it seemed like nobody had heard of the area, the more popular climbs were trad so my brother went one way and Kailey and I went exploring another. 

The valley we came across was stunning and as we climbed around on the huge boulders until my legs started feeling like jello! I'm assuming Kailey's were fine because she easily made her way across the sloped mountainside toward my brother who had indeed found the hidden "Jungle Gym".

I of course took my time making sure to get bit by a ton of mosquitos and sat for a while taking in the views. I again could not believe I was in Alaska...

It felt like forever once I was ready to get to the rock wall, I swear I wasn't getting any closer and the boulders kept getting bigger. My legs were already jello and I was suppose to climb after this?

I stayed entertained in my head as I remembered me laughing in Moosejaw as I asked what "approach" shoes were for...and I was like, you mean you have to approach the wall in a certain fashion? 

When I finally reached the slab base my older brother was eating an MRE and my other brother was already lead climbing the wall. It's hard to tell how steep the mountain side was, but trust me it was steep! Falling down the rock face was one thing, but tumbling down the mountain was another, and I was experiencing watching a person lead climb for the first time! Let's just say I was having a hard time staying relaxed! 

Once settled in and letting my legs take a break we sat watching everybody climb to our left and enjoyed the views down the valley on our right. You could see the trail down below and I couldn't help but feel accomplished. Everything was perfect; the weather, the views, the company, the adventure. 

I didn't want to leave. 

We all tried our hand at climbing the 5.9 "As Good as it Gets"  and cried laughing when my Dad reached the top. He has only climbed like once in his life! Kailey had a scary fall when a rock broke on her while she was wasn't tied in and we all almost had a heart attack as we felt a sudden awareness of how small we are on the mountain. Kailey being the sweetest and toughest Colorado Girl you'll ever meet, sat up after her very scary and very long tumble and said her famous, "I'm ok!" 

So, we kept climbing and this time a little more carefully. 

We spent well over a few hours at the Jungle Gym before we headed further up the slope to "Randy's Roof", where my little brother again almost gave me a heart attack!

We were bundled up with all the layers we brought at that point as the winds were colder and Eric started boiling water with a chemical powder from his MRE pack...that's right, coffee hot from a box on a mountain side! 

So we sat and drank our luke warm coffee and tried to relax as we watched our youngest brother dominate the climb. 

I sat there feeling so proud of this guy! He's so strategic and makes his moves slowly and thoughtfully. After breaking two toes last Spring I was looking for something that allowed me to feel competitive again and after he introduced me to rock climbing I was hooked, but that didn't keep an older sister from freaking out! 

After watching Ryan finish "Randy's Roof", we packed up our bags and started the slow slide/climb down the mountainside. The afternoon had brought dew that covered everything, so careful not to slip we slowly worked our way down to the valley. 

Once I was in the valley I felt small again and couldn't believe we just spent the afternoon climbing along such a beautiful mountainside. 

By the time we made it all the way down the trail to the RV I realized we'd been gone over eight hours! Another amazing thing about Alaska, sunset still wouldn't be for another 5-6 hours. 

If you read all my blabbing, I hope you're ready to visit Hatchers Pass and if you are - please let me know! If you just looked at the pictures, that's okay too! I've started putting my fine art prints on my website if you're interested in any, feel free to message me here

-Tara