(Last Updated On: May 7, 2008)
Originally posted on my Thrillhead Blog
In Colorado, an improbable relation between railroads and skiing exits. Leave the snowmobiles behind. There’s no need when you have a whole train to help you out!
Take, for example, Winter Park. Winter Park ski resort was built at the very entrance of the famed West Portal of the Moffat Tunnel. The rail is still alive today, and hosts the [url=http://www.skitrain.com/]ski train[/url] where skiers can take the train from Denver to Winter Park. Although absurdly expensive, the ski train adds ambiance to a day in the mountains.
Winter Park has made a theme out of it’s railroad history. Buildings sport the names of “West Portal”, referring to the tunnel. Ski runs have names like “Railbender”, “Golden Spike”, “Narrow Gauge” and “Derailer”. Other names include:
*Trestle- a type of bridge often used on railroads
*Needle’s Eye- named after a tunnel on the rail between Denver and Winter park, because the engineer of the train can see a slit of light through the tunnel
* Boiler- well, steam trains need boilers, you see…. to make the steam
* Gandy Dancer- a reference made to people who moved from job to job, whom often found themselves working for the railroad
* Sterling Way- an engineer who was stranded by avalanches on both ends of his train for a long period of time. He decided to ride the fireman’s shovel down from the Needle’s Eye tunnel down to Yankee Doodle Lake and became known for it.
* Sluice box- used for panning for gold. The reason why railroads were built in Colorado in the first place.
In my 14 seasons of skiing at Winter Park, I have amazingly never taken the ski train.
However, this weekend, I will be taking another train of sorts to access skiing. I will be taking the famed tourist train that runs between Durango and Silverton in the San Juans. I remember taking this train several years ago during the summer. The line is very historic and has been running for 125 years.
This weekend, we will use the Durango and Silverton line to access three different fourteeners: Windom, Sunlight, and Eolus. We will take the 8:15 am train from Durango. Before we reach Silverton, the train will make a special stop for us. We will get off there and hike 6 miles up to Chicago Basin where we will camp for two nights, skiing 3 different fourteeners. We will catch the train on Sunday on the way back from Silverton and will be in Durango that evening. The experience will be different from the normal fourteener slog, and I think it will be fun!
This trip will allow both Frank and I to get three more fourteeners. If all goes well, that will leave me with only 16 more fourteeners to ski. Even better, Frank will have only one more fourteener left to ski: Harvard.
I’ll be sure to post a trip report when we return!