Sunday, January 25, 2015

Loveland Pass, Loveland Ski and Arapahoe Ski Basins


One sunny day in October my husband and I decided to take a drive up into the Rocky Mountains for the day. Instead of going through the usual route on Interstate 70 through the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel, we decided at the last minute to take another route, on Highway 6, through Loveland Passwhich was the road one had to drive before part of the tunnel was opened in 1973. (All photos, and photo collages, will enlarge for easier viewing if clicked on.)


The pass is named for William A.H. Loveland, who was the president of the Colorado Central Railroad and a resident of Golden during the late 19th century. The city of Loveland, located in Larimer County is also named after him. The pass, located on Highway 6, is the highest mountain pass in the world that stays open regularly during a snowy winter season.  On the east side of the pass is the Loveland Basin ski area.  It is one of Colorado's highest ski areas with a summit of 13,010 feet. and the second highest ski lift served areas in North America, at 12,697 feet.  It is one of the closest ski areas from Denver, and the Front Range, and popular with locals


As we continued to drive on the twisty road towards the Continental Divide, we could see how this road could be a very treacherous drive during the winter months.


The steep, steady 6.7% grade along the road, with numerous hairpin turns, makes it difficult to snowplow. The Colorado Department of Transportation does its best to keep the road open. This is the major route across this part of the Rocky Mountains for trucks caring hazardous materiel, as they are not allowed to drive through the Eisenhower Tunnel.


Thankfully, my husband enjoys driving on roads like this, as long as the driving conditions are good, and I like to snap photos along the way! We found the views along the pass so exciting!


At the top of the pass there is a pull off parking area, and we stopped to take in the view.....


..and to do a little hiking.


The trail was narrow and muddy, as even though it was October, there had already been snow at these elevations.


It was exhilarating to be at the top of the Continental Divide at this point.


We could see a few back country snowboarders taking advantage of the early snow to ride down the summit.  Sadly, in April of 2013, an avalanche at Loveland Pass claimed the lives of five snowboarders. It was the deadliest avalanche in Colorado since 1962.


In an effort to control avalanches, the Colorado Department of Transportation will temporary close mountain roads and use long range blasting to move the snow down, and then clear it from the road. It is quite an important job here in the high elevations of Colorado, which see large and frequent snowfalls


The view of the parking area that we had from the top of the trail. As you can see there was another , wider trail on the other side. Perhaps a place we will hike in the future?


We returned to our car and continued our drive over Loveland Pass. 


On the south side of the pass the Arapahoe Basin Ski area is located. A-Basin, as locals call it, has a summit of 13,050 feet. It is often the first ski area to open in North America, as it opens for the season in mid October, and can remain open until July!


After driving the entire pass we returned to Interstate 70, going west. As you can see in this photo, there were other ski areas in the distance that had yet to receive snow.


This is a familiar sight to see as you drive the Colorado mountain roads--it is a runaway truck ramp. The grades along these roads can be 6% or greater, and occasionally truck brakes overheat. They need to use these ramps to stop, and cool down their brakes.


We entered continued our drive on Highway 6, and entered Summit County, where we enjoyed a day out in the town of Breckenridge.


On our way home we used our usual route of driving back on Interstate 70, through the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel, completed in 1979, that travels under the Continental Divide of the Rocky Mountains. With a maximum elevation of 11,158 feet it is one of the highest vehicular tunnels in the world, and it is also the longest mountain tunnel on the Interstate Highway system. The westbound bores for the tunnel is named after Dwight D Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States and for whom the Interstate Highway system is named. The eastbound bore of the tunnel is named for Edwin C Johnson, a governor and US Senator who lobbied for an Interstate Highway to be built across Colorado.  After driving over the rigorous Loveland Pass I can see how this tunnel system had a large impact on making crossing the Rocky Mountains an easier and safer trip!
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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Super Shootout Rodeo at the Denver National Western Stock Show




Yee Haw! It is rodeo time at the national Western Stock Show, held at the Denver Coliseum in Denver, Colorado! The bucking broncos are ready, as well as the strong and skillful cowboys!


There are 16 days of rodeo action at the National Western Stock Show, and we chose a date to see one of the them--the Super Shootout Rodeo comprised of rodeo stars from all around the country and Canada.  Are you new to the rules of rodeo?  See this page for rodeo 101 rules and skills required for all the rodeo events.  Boyd Polhamus was the rodeo Master of Ceremonies and did a wonderful job as usual. He lead the crowd in prayer, then the United States National Anthem was sung.


This collage shows the continuation of the bareback riding cowboy I showed in the first photo. 


Another bareback cowboy. Bareback riding is one of the most challenging and physically demanding events in a rodeo.


Their rides are only eight seconds long!


A bareback rider is judged on his spurring technique, the degree to which his toes remain turned out while he is spurring and his exposure or willingness to lean back and take whatever might come during his ride.


This rodeo also had cowgirls performing in the barrel races. Barrel racing requires horse and rider to cross a start line on the run, follow a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels without knocking them over, then dash across the finish line. It take years of practice for rider and horse to perfect speed and accuracy.


In many rodeos there is a pause when children as young as five participate in "mutton racing."  The children hold onto the back of a running sheep as long as they can.  They are well protected with helmets and face masks. Most children hold on for only about eights seconds. Every child that participates receives a trophy for their effort.s


An event that takes speed, agility and super cowboy, called a bulldogger, strength is steer wrestling. A cowboy races off alongside a running steer, and throws himself off his horse onto the steer and wrestles the steer--which often weighs twice his weight--to the ground.  The record for this event is 2.4 seconds! This is rodeo's fastest event. Many of the cowboys we saw during the rodeo we attended had problem either catching the steer or wrestling it to the ground so it is definitely a difficult event.  The steer all popped up quickly afterward and were not harmed.



You can see how fast this happens in the Picas auto enhanced motion hoto above.


Rodeo's most dangerous event is bull riding.


Like bareback and saddle bronc riders, a bull rider may use only one hand to stay aboard the bull during his hoped for eight second ride. If he touches the bull or himself with his free hand he receives no score. Riders are judged on their ability to stay aboard the twisting bucking ton of muscle and rage.  Balance, flexibility, coordination and fearlessness are the stuff of which good bull riders are made.


It definitely is intense to watch!  Many of the riders were thrown off the bulls quickly. I have to give praise to the rodeo "clowns" who rush in to distract the bulls away for a fallen rider to help prevent the rider from being injured by the stomping hooves of the bull.


As you see in this action photo, the bulls spin and kick so quickly!

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The clowns are almost as brave and skilled as the riders, without the glory!


The winning team of the Cinch Super Shootout Rodeo by total points for all the events was Calgary Stampede from Alberta, Canada! They were awarded $5,000 each and a wrist watch by Cinch Jeans and Shirts.. The names and home towns of all the team members and all the award winners can be read on this link. Congratulations to all for a job well done!

My husband and I really enjoyed seeing a rodeo and we know it will be something we look forward to seeing in years to come, as well as other National Western Stock Show Events.  There are more events happening this week, so if you are in the Denver area check out the schedule and enjoy!

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