Setting:New Years Day – January 1, 2017. It’s 530AM and the alarm just went off.
I rolled myself out of bed past Sam and a sprawled out, sleeping Forest, and fumbled my way to the kitchen. I turned the dial.
Coffee: BEEEEEEEP, BEEEEEEEEP, BEEEEEEP.
Me: Pouring, pouring…sipping, sipping…sitting, waiting…
What better way to start a new year than skiing in the backcountry with amazing family and friends?!
Well, first, let’s start it with a very large cup of black coffee, but then with a ski trip 🙂
After a delicious 5 course meal at Kip’s Grill in Creede the night before, the last night of 2016 was an early one (yep, I fell asleep way before midnight), but I woke up still sore from the yurt trip and in desperate need of caffeine.
If I’m being honest, I was sitting on the couch with my hot coffee feeling a little nervous for the 6 mile uphill(ish) trek to Tomichi. After such a challenging 1.5 miles to the yurt, I was having some doubts…
Did we pack too much? Would we make it in before nightfall? Should we shell out the $200 for their shuttle service? Will Forest have a meltdown and not want to be in the Chariot the whole time? And if so, what if it’s too cold or windy to carry him in the Ergo? And what about diaper changes along the route?!
So. Many. QUESTIONS?!
I sat and drank my coffee.
Again, if I’m being honest, we were all throwing around the idea of paying to have our gear hauled into Tomichi Lodge for us. There was a snow storm a’brewin and with our experience thus far, we thought it might be the easier option.
Well, “we” as in Matt, Tasha and myself. Sam is a dedicated workhorse. For him hauling the gear is half the journey! But, when Matt and Tasha came downstairs, the thee of us continued brainstorming our idea to veto Sam and pay for the shuttle that morning.
Needless to say, Sam talked some sense into us 🙂
So, we packed up and headed out on a two hour drive north to county road 888. Next stop: Tomichi Lodge.
When we arrived at the trailhead, the skies were overcast but our spirits were high.
I was stoked! We made it. The trip was ACTUALLY happening. Both families, for the third year in a row, would be adventuring together. This time, it was to an amazing lodge in the middle of the National Forest with our amazing husbands, wild 8 and 9 month old boys, and crazy dogs. The anxiousness and doubt melted away as soon as I clipped in.
Though, it also helped that Emma “turtled” herself in the middle of the trailhead as we were packing up. I literally laughed uncontrollably for a bit…
So, at 1030AM on the first day of 2017, we said farewell to cell service and our vehicles (and a couple rather important items we later found out we forgot) and started down the trail for Tomichi Lodge.
The trailhead is actually a winter parking area for CR888. Then, the ski-in follows the road 4 miles to the summer town of White Pine. After that, you follow a rugged and slightly skinnier 4×4 road/trail for 2 more miles to Tomichi Lodge.
Like many mountain towns in Colorado, the area has an extremely rich mining history. In fact, both White Pine and the once-existing town of Tomichi were established during the late 1800s mining boom. Unfortunately for the residents who called those original towns home, the mining camps moved on due to low profits and in 1890, a devastating avalanche came through and destroyed Tomichi.
While you can ski past several nice seasonal homes along the road through White Pine, low angle and tree skiing seem to be the primary activity where Tomichi once stood.
After four surprisingly quick miles, we snacked and hydrated, passed through White Pine and began the slightly steeper 2 miles to Tomichi. Forest was still snoozing, but since Tasha was transitioning Asa to the Ergo, I thought I’d see if he wanted to do the same.
But, when I reached in the back of the Chariot, it was empty. Remember those important items I mentioned that we forgot? Ya, those would include my shell jacket and the Ergo. Make due or do without, right?!
So, just as Forest began to wake and get fussy, I closed up the Chariot, buckled up and hauled my butt up the hill in front of me.
This section of trail has tighter trees lining both sides and really sets the stage for what’s to come near the Lodge. Honestly, it’s my favorite part. It’s tighter, more shaded, a little steeper, and it means only 2 more miles until a hot wood stove and cozy couches. But this isn’t about “glamping” 😉
After we skiied a couple uphill sections and past a few log homes I recognized from our summer trip, I remember saying to Sam “oh, it’s right around the next bend”! Only to find the next long stretch of trail.
Eventually, though, we saw our destination in sight!
We met Eli, the caretaker, and his wonderfully sweet sled dogs, and unloaded the gear while waiting for Tasha, Matt, and Asa.
The lodge was just as I remembered. Warm, inviting, and all to ourselves!
In addition to its mining history, Tomichi also has its roots in Ute culture.
According to the Lodge’s website, Tomichi means “hot water” in the Ute language – a fitting name for an area with natural thermal springs and pools. Though we did not find any hotsprings, when we got out and explored around the lodge, we did find the trail to Tomichi Creek and the Buckhorn Cabin (also available for overnights).
The next two days were nothing but wonderful!
We indulged in Cards Against Humanity, some great backcountry skiing/touring, delicious meals and quality time with our families and good friends. AND! The boys seemed to have a blast (when they weren’t snoozing in the hammock)!
So that’s it…we wrapped up 2016 with one heck of a challenging ski trip and we kicked off 2017 with an even better skiing adventure.
If you’ve been thinking about planning a trip with your little one, don’t hesitate. Plan ahead, prepare yourself/little one/family/adventuring partners, and do it! There will be challenges, but the fun and good times will outweigh any low moments – I promise!