A Backcountry Yurt Couple’s Retreat for Valentine’s Day!

Jamie and I spent one of my favorite Valentine’s Days ever in a backcountry yurt with five other couples.

The adventure started long before it began. A steady stream of storms threatened to derail our plans but the grandparents came a day early, for which I’m so grateful because they were able to take care of Bode when he got sick.  Then I-80 westbound closed but thankfully we turned off at the exit just before the closure.

Trip organizer Rob is Bode’s Scout master so I’m attuned to his craziness. I was a bit wary when he said it was a flat-ish 3.5-mile snowshoe into Beulah Vista a brand-new yurt on the east fork of the Bear River that is maintained in a cooperative venture between the U.S. Forest Service and BRORA in Uinta National Forest. I mean, I really like Rob but this is a guy who is a juxtaposition: he is a caring, encouraging Scout leader but has also been known to toughen them up when he takes picture if they cry during their expeditions. Would I be his next victim?

The Mirror Lake Scenic Byway is 78 miles between Wyoming Highway 150 and Utah State Road 150, but the middle portion is closed in the winter so we drove to Evanston. The freeway was still closed and it was a bit eerie as we wound through a tight tunnel of hundreds of semis parked along the road. We carb-loaded at Jody’s Diner before driving to the Lily Lake trailhead 45 minutes away in Utah.

(Andrew, Jessica, Me, Jamie, Jed, Nicole, Kristen, Rob, Leland, Lindsey, Jenny, Rod)

The piercing wind was biting when we arrived. We strapped on our snowshoes, grabbed our backpacks and slowly broke trail through huge swathes of wild coniferous landscape. As our heart rates increased, our body temperatures warmed and we shed layers…until the next time we left the trees and were exposed again. I have been snowshoeing. I have been backpacking. But I have never backpacked with snowshoes and though the trail was only moderate, I had just enough sensory bandwidth left when we arrived at our yurt 3.5 miles later as the wind and cold were being unleashed.

The yurt was cozy and clean, equipped with six bunk beds, a large table, propane stove, kitchen utensils and plenty of firewood for the wood-burning stove. It took a while for the yurt to warm up so we shivered off the cold as we unpacked and prepped for dinner. Rob served his mission in Thailand and served up a gourmet batch of yellow curry and rice for our Valentine’s Day feast….and a delicious breakfast of bacon, eggs and hashbrowns.

He is the most organized person alive but in his words, “I don’t do games” so he put me in charge of the fun. We played an ice-breaker, followed by a VERY revealing Newlywed Game that lasted until 10 p.m. where we laughed ’til we cried.

A few truths revealed:

Jessica and Andrew lived in Dubai for three years and most recently returned from a year abroad with their five kids where they traveled to 20+ countries. Favorite family tradition: throwing hard-boiled eggs at each other for Easter.

Rob and Kristen. Apparently Rob once kissed his cousin (on the lips). But the real show-stopper was when he was asked what would be his first purchase after winning the lottery. His response? A knife.

Jed and Nicole. Though they have been married almost 17 years, they bombed the Newlywed Game but we did learn he was the worst (black) Baptist minister ever and has a deep love for all the Rocky movies.  He was also great comic relief when he picked Jamie every time for the ice-breaker and when he played the Rocky theme song as our wake-up call the next morning.

Lindsey and Leland. He once peed on a pregnancy stick, she once owned 200 shoes and don’t ask either of them to perform “Sneaky Snake” in a talent show.

Jenny and Rod. She likes peace in the morning, he’s a wildman who mountain biked the Alps. We also learned getting busted for “make-out face”  by your parents is a bad thing when engaged.

Jamie and me. We were in our element with many incriminating stories but nothing brought down the house quite like his Meet the Parents: Sleepwalk Edition. “Don’t worry, I’m Jamie Johnson” was the inside joke the rest of the trip.

Some other memorable moments:

  • Leland terrifying me as I walked back from the outhouse. It was pitch-black and he was grabbing snow for water. Not wanting to alarm me, he spoke from the darkness, “Don’t worry, I’m over here.” Good thing I had already peed because I let out a blood-curdling scream that freaked everyone else out as well. I haven’t laughed that hard in years.

Leland: the predator

  • Jamie brought his disco globe nightlight and Jessica hung a string of white lights above her bunk for some mood lighting while Jed, a Tony Robbins-certified coach, led a discussion on forming meaningful connections in our relationships.

  • Rob (a prolific musician) serenaded us to sleep with his violin. Fiddler on the roof…errr. yurt.
  • It snowed all night, the perfect setting in our cozy yurt. I worried I would freeze but had the opposite problem and slept poorly because it was so warm from the wood-burning stove.
  • Kristen’s alarm went off at 6 a.m…and she was the only one who didn’t hear it because she was wearing earplugs. Bless Rod who climbed off the top bunk to turn it off–and bonked his head twice on the ceiling. Fortunately, we fell back asleep until 8 a.m.
  • We celebrated our 16th anniversary with the most stunningly pristine bluebird day with fresh views of Deadman Pass.

    • Rob rolling up his sleeping pad. I swear, it as smaller than when it arrived from the manufacturer.
    • Jessica and Andrew brought two sleds and hit the deep powder behind our yurt.  Rod hit a tree in a very memorable way; good thing they’re done having kids.

Our trek out was a lot different than the previous day. The temperatures were milder, the sun shone brighter and our packs were lighter so it was much easier to appreciate the scale and connectivity across our powder-perfect playground.

Our Valentine’s Day Retreat 2019 was one of those experiences that can be recreated but never relived.

Here’s to creating more experiences and to saying “yes” because you just never know when magic will happen.

Adventures at the Heber Valley Camp

It’s a busy weekend Chez Johnson. Bode just left on his first winter camp-out with a winter storm advisory in effect (pray for him) and Hadley has a volleyball tournament 1.5 hours away. This is the first time she is attempting to play since her accident so we’ll see how much she’s able to do. My twin nieces are getting baptized tomorrow and did I mention that big winter storm that is bearing down upon us? It should make for a crazy time.

All the Scouts are going to Heber Valley Camp this weekend. The LDS Church owns a smattering of camps throughout Utah and rents them out to the public in the off-season where it’s a madhouse trying to get a reservation. My brother-in-law Jeremy managed to score a one-night stay in one of the cabins and was generous enough to invite us along last year. I can’t believe I didn’t blog about it and just looking at the pictures makes me really sad because it was such an epic snow year. The rustic cabins and yurts aren’t heated but we sure had fun sledding, hiking and playing in the snow!

View from Heber Valley Camp of our little valley

The sledding races (we’re highly competitive)

I’ve been poking fun regarding how cold it will be this weekend but decided I’d better start getting Bode excited about the campout.

Me: “You know I’m just kidding about the cold, right? I’m sure you’ll have a blast this weekend!”

Him: “Do you mean a blast of heat?”

Me: “No, definitely not that.”

When I dropped him off at the church all the 11-year-old Scouts were loading up. Prior to departure, Bode was asked to say the prayer. Now, as a bit of background, Bode has always said THE BEST prayers. When he was younger, I kid you not–his nightmare prayers went on FOREVER–and even now when he’s blessing the food at dinner, he can sometimes ramble on a bit long (I mean, sometimes you just wanna eat). But you know in the book of Matthew when it admonishes against using vain repetitions? That is NOT Bode.

He gave a nice prayer for them to be safe and have a nice time but at the end, my friend Julie and I could barely contain our laughter as he prayed, “Please bless us to think twice before we do anything.”

I hereby vote THIS should be the new Scout motto.


My return to rollerblading glory

I’ve lived in Midway almost eight months and had yet to go rollerblading in my favorite place: Provo Canyon. When I was at BYU, I fell in love with the Provo River Parkway and would park at the base of the canyon and rollerblade up about 10 miles past Bridal Veil Falls to Vivian Park and then race back down the canyon. There is a slight incline the entire way making it a great workout but the ride down was sheer bliss.

Since moving to Colorado almost 15 years ago, I would occasionally come back and rollerblade it so I’ve been chomping at the bit since our move but between unpacking, two feet of snow and trail closures and flooding all spring, the timing wasn’t right.

I decided to make the timing work for me so I woke up one morning last week to go. I grabbed my helmet (something I never wore before), wrist guards and thought I was set. Turns out I should have brought full body armor as well. I made some mistakes on my triumphant return and they included:

1) I forgot I’m not 20 anymore. This covers all subsequent observations.

2) What goes down must come up. When I was in Provo, I started at the base of the canyon and went up. This is how I prefer to do everything–there’s nothing more miserable to me than starting a hike going downhill, only to save the climb for the end. The problem is Midway is at the top of the canyon and I really didn’t want to drive all the way down, rollerblade up and then back down and then have to drive back up. Make sense? It sure did to me. At the time.

2) My rollerblades are about 20 years old and are dire need of being replaced. The wheels are so worn it made climbing the hills really tough. Being out of shape didn’t help either.

3) The cruise down vacillated between being empowering “I LOOOOVE THIS!” and moderately terrifying in places. If you’re never rollerbladed before, there’s really no great way to stop on steep terrain. I used to know every curve and bend so would just go with the flow but I was rusty so had to inch down a few sections like a baby learning to walk.

4) I somehow made it down the canyon without falling and then came the moment of truth: going back up. That’s usually my favorite part and I love the burn of the climb! Rollerblading that 20 miles has never been an issue but between being rusty, out-of-shape and having old roller-blades, it was a tough go. I even debated calling Jamie at one point but powered through it (albeit on a low battery).

A few things I learned before going next time:

I need to buy new rollerblades. Period. I should have replaced mine years ago but I never really went in Denver but now that I live next door to an amazing place, I want back in.

I need to start at the bottom of the canyon and work my way up. I bit off waaaaaay more than I could chew so next time I’ll start mid-way up the canyon and slowly make my rides longer.

My before shot as I exuberantly started out:

My after shot:




Yep, that about tells the story.

Hap Hap Happenings

Our busy winter season is sadly winding down and I’ve been trying to hold on for as long as possible. Here are are few of our happenings:

  • All of our glorious snow is almost gone. In Ambruary. In the mountains, spring is replaced by a not-so glorious mud season before ushering summer. I’d mentally prepared myself for this in April in May but not in February. Winter, come back!
  • Jamie speaks my love language. For Valentine’s Day and our anniversary the following day, he took me hiking and to the Blue Boar Inn, a fine-dining restaurant in Midway. We also had our family’s traditional fondue on Valentine’s Day. Jamie and I vowed not to get each other gifts to save money and for once, we actually stuck to that resolution (as opposed to Christmas when we said the same thing and yet somehow ended up buying each other the exact same gifts–A Magic Bullet blender and the Jason Bourne movie). However, we did get each other cards where we wrote several things we love about each other but as it turns out, all cards are not equal and he bought one of those huuuuuge over-sized ones. That guy wins at everything, including love. 
  • Bode is winding down his third month of Nordic ski lessons at Soldier Hollow. With the dwindling snow totals, it makes parting less sorrowful but I have truly loved volunteering with his class twice a week. I learned to skate ski and once I get my knee problems fixed, I can’t wait to do it again. He is in an awkward intermediate school and will be bumped up to middle school next year so I thought his days of class holiday parties were over until he came home from his Halloween party and told me how lame it was. So, I took over for Christmas and Valentine’s Day. I thought I was soooo over volunteering but I’ve enjoyed holding onto his final, fleeting moments of childhood. If no one is going to step up to help, I’d rather just do it than have nothing at all.
  • Hadley is a teenager with all the boy drama that involves. Not that she tells us anything but we have this glorious thing called text messaging where her love life (or lack thereof) unfolds in all the glories of unrequited teenage angst. She and Jamie have been swapping a virus for weeks. She was finally feeling better but then had a lot of late nights for her science fair project (an ode to–what else–pumpkins and nitrogen in the soil). She didn’t have to do a project because she’s not in Honors Science but as the top student in her class, she was the only one who chose to do a project. Did I mention she made the HONOR ROLL? However, her rundown body caught up with her and I told her she could sleep in as late as she wanted on Saturday but she did much more than that. She came home from school on Friday and took a nap, refusing to wake up for her volleyball team party she had been looking forward to and slept straight through the night, cranking out a whopping 17 hours of sleep. Just like her father–an overachiever.
  • The cat. Still fat.
  • I’ve been keeping busy. I went to a SkiUtah networking event a few weeks ago where I made some great contacts as we skied Sundance (the best kind of networking). My friend Sheri and I have vowed to try to ski together at Park City every week until the end of the season and we had a blast on the mountain last week. A few of us hiked to Stewart Falls a few weeks ago and got some fascinating avalanche training with beacons and probes.  I’ve been on a couple of hikes at Wasatch Mountain State Park but I need to either have the snow stick around forever so I can snowshoe it or just melt. Having snow that isn’t deep enough for snowshoes but not optimal for hiking is jacking up my knees. For the first time in my life, I’m feeling limited and it’s a constant source of frustration. I’m still fortunate to be able to do the things I love but I’m in pain when I do it.

    Park City Snowmamas

    WOW! Trail


    Stewart Falls

  • I feel like I’m in such limbo with work but there isn’t a lot to be done at this point because other people I’m relying on are engaged elsewhere. The kids are going to the acclaimed Keystone Science School this summer (thanks to a campaign I’m doing for Mile High Mamas) so Jamie and I will have five glorious days to ourselves in Colorado’s backcountry after dropping them off. I’ve been researching a lot of options but one is finalized: we’ll be staying at The Broadmoor after we pick them up, the perfect reward after several days of roughing it.
And the great finale of our happenings (crammed into one big paragraph):
Tomorrow is my birthday and we’re skiing Alta. We have new friends coming over tonight to play games, and our house is slowly coming together. We’ve taken a hiatus over the winter with projects but come spring, we’ll be delving in full-throttle organizing the garage, setting up shelves and putting in our yard. Jamie and I confessed we won’t truly love this house until we can finish the basement, something we can’t afford to do. (And I try not to focus on the fact that everything was done at our Colorado home and we were in a good place financially). My parents sent me some birthday money and I bought a cute mirror for our front entrance. By downsizing from a two-story house to a ranch with only one great room, a constant struggle is the kids don’t have anywhere to put their backpacks and schoolwork so our living room constantly looks like a bomb exploded. Our mudroom/laundry room is super small and inconvenient so we’ve debated moving our washer/dryer to the basement and building lockers/storage closets for all their c-r-a-p but again, that takes money. So, a temporary fix is I bought a beautiful console for the living from an upscale furniture consignment store in Park City and it has helped alleviate the mess. For now.

It has been six months some we left our beloved Colorado. In some ways, it feels like we’ve been here forever and in other ways, I wonder when we’ll finally feel settled. I read a quote this week that really hit home.

Sometimes it’s hard to watch other people “succeeding” when you feel like you keep getting knocked on your face. I get that. It’s hard to watch friends and family and peers storm “ahead” when you feel like you’re indefinitely stuck at ground zero. But from a life that’s been chopped down at the knees more than once, let me tell you… ground zero is a sacred space to be. Don’t wish it away in yearning for the mountain top. There is so much this space will give you…if you let it. Stop looking 10 miles ahead, and spend a moment or two taking in the totality of where you currently are. The juxtaposition of beauty and ashes is REAL, take it from me. But many of us miss this completely in our mad dash attempt to be anywhere but “here.” And I get that. Because pain is real, hurt is significant, fear is debilitating. Even so, trust me when I say, don’t pass over dollars to pick up dimes. What you have the potential to find in the rubble of your life, if you’ll just stop and LOOK, is beyond your wildest imaginings and will serve to propel you on to spaces and places you currently don’t have the capacity to foresee. Pinkie swear. Hang in there, beautiful you. God is on your side. -Natalie Norton

Duly noted and a much-needed reminder: we can do this.

January: Midway’s magical month of snow

I haven’t had a winter like this since I was a wee lassie growing in Canada. The Heber Valley has had an endless barrage of glorious, fluffy snow and I don’t want it to end. Sadly, we’re kicking off February with 40-degree temps but I’m hoping “Ambruary” won’t let me down.

Since moving here late-September, we’ve tried to limit our schedule to church and the occasional activity. Bode played soccer in the fall and has continued with Webelos. Hadley has weekly Young Women activities and Science Club (she’s thrilled to be doing a snowshoeing field trip today to learn about how animals adapt in the wintertime). It’s a bonus to have world-class mountains right in your backyard.

But now we’re full speed ahead. The kids are doing a six-week downhill ski rec program on Saturdays that will end mid-February. Bode and I Nordic ski twice a week at Soldier Hollow while Hadley has volleyball at the same time. Bode (and maybe Hadley) started piano last week and as much as I try to limit extracurricular activities so we can maximum family time, being busy is working well for us in the winter.  I hate the thought of them hunkering down down with their technology during these dark and cold winter nights.

Here are a few January highlights:


I’ve never done so much snowshoeing in my life! Our texting group is 35 women and growing and I’ve loved getting to know these fabulous women.

Wasatch Mountain State Park

Dutch Hollow

Ice Castles

Just when I thought our resort town couldn’t get any cooler (literally), we spent one evening exploring the Midway Ice Castles’ crystal grottoes with shifting translucent white and petrol blue lights in scalloped ice. 

It would have been a scene out of a Russian fairy tale had I not biffed it GETTING ON (not off) the 50-foot ice block slide. My bruised ego and butt are more of the Brothers Grimm genre.


I ventured out to Park City with some ladies a few weeks ago and we’re doing round 2 tomorrow. I enjoy being by myself for most activities but downhill skiing is not one of them. I love hanging out on the lift with these fellow Snowmamas!

I’ve enjoyed spending every Tuesday and Thursday Nordic skiing with Bode at Soldier Hollow Olympic Center and had an epiphany last week: As much as I love downhill, I actually prefer X-country skiing. I find it much easier to connect with nature and the workout is intense. We tried skate skiing for the first time last week and if my knees weren’t shot, I’d probably trade in my classic skis for skate–that gets your heart pumping like nothing else! 

This week, Soldier Hollow is hosting the USANA FIS Nordic Junior & U23 World Ski Championships 2017. It has been so fun to see 750 athletes from 40 nations in our little community.

Of course, nothing will ever compare to the time I was on a flight with the Austrian Men’s Ski Team. Hubba. Hubba.


We’ve been trying to ski Alta for more than a year and last week was finally our time! Until it wasn’t. We drove up Sunday after church, settling in for the night at Goldminer’s Daughter Lodge. And then an intense storm blew through, Little Cottonwood Canyon was closed due to avalanche danger and “Maximum Interlodge” was declared. Interlodge means you’re on lockdown indoors but “Maximum Interlodge” also involves staying away from windows and doors. 

Many details to follow on this crazy 24 hours but suffice it to say, we did not ski.


We had a grand ol’ time sledding Lime Canyon on Martin Luther King Junior Day.

So much so that when my friend Sarah announced she was throwing a sledding birthday party for her son, Charlie, I volunteered. She had posted some cool pictures of her husband Ben’s secret haunt toward Cascade Springs and I wanted IN.

The powder was thigh-deep in places and we hiked about a half-mile to the start of the hill (not to mention hauling sleds up and down).

It wasn’t as idyllic as it looked, believe me. Case in point: Bode’s awesome wipeout.

And then the real misery began as we were hiking out. As Sarah and I cut trail through the deep snow for a half a mile, her husband and I pulling the injured birthday boy and cold friend on their sleds while she sacrificed her gloves and carried two sleds and helmets in 17 degrees, she commented,

“I mean, really. This is next level crazy.”

And then she glanced over at me, Miss Maximum Interlodge, and said nothing.

I think they’re onto me.

Sledding Lime Canyon in Midway

Despite living in the gorgeous Heber Valley, I’ve been surprised by the lack of information about quality places to sled. Soldier Hollow offers the longest tubing lanes in Utah but it’s lift-serviced and costs money. Beyond that, there are small pockets of hills whose locations the locals won’t disclose. And who can blame them?

So, I was happy to hear someone recommend Lime Canyon as a great place to sled in Midway. Located a few miles behind the Zermatt Resort, we found a powder-perfect playground on Martin Luther King Jr. Day with our friends, Zoie and Jonas.

Bode: future sled model

We had a blast but we arrived at the hill just as the shadows were creeping in and the lack of sunlight made it cold. Bitterly bold. So we only lasted an hour.

Yes, there is such a thing as too much powder when sledding!

The Slow Crawl to the Summit

The tween declared “I’m too old for sledding,” and I vehemently disagreed, taunting her that I’M never too old for anything.

Until she turned the sledding hill into her personal skeleton track and I declared I’m too old for THAT.

A Friday the 13th Snowshoeing Adventure

Wasatch Mountain State Park is literally right in our backyard. Since we moved to Midway in late-September we haven’t had a lot of opportunities to explore with the exception of the Dutch Hollow Trail System…it seems every time I plan or attend a hiking or snowshoeing event, it is there!

I started a private Facebook group for “Heber Valley Outdoor Families” and posted that the state park was hosting a Friday the 13th Full Moon Snowshoe event.  We had a lot of interest and decided to just do our own thing to avoid paying the $7 and I’m so glad we did; the state park had more than 100 people RSVP. Welcome to mountain living!

Since I’m unfamiliar with the trail system here, I knew I wanted to go somewhere with great views so that led us to the Heber Valley Overlook Loop at (where else) Dutch Hollow.  We had received more than two feet of fresh powder that week so conditions were optimal and a fun challenge for snowshoeing.

I made it a date night so it was fun to have The Husbands along with one exception: men are all about competition. Suddenly, our leisurely snowshoe hikes of yesteryear were gone and we were huffing and puffing our way to the top. But once was reached our two different summits, we chatted, laughed and played in the snow as we gazed down at the Heber Valley. Sadly, the full moon was ensconced in clouds but that didn’t make the evening any less gorgeous–there is something so surreal and raw about venturing into the backcountry at night.

Disclaimer: This selfie took almost as much time to take as the hike itself. But both were totally worth it!

Monarch Mountain: A perfect family ski vacation

I learned to ski on a tiny two-lift hill within Calgary, Canada’s city limits. As much as I love exploring large ski areas, I feel drawn to these smaller homegrown resorts that are solely about the skiing without the pomp, circumstance and inflated prices. A place where everyone knows your name…and that I don’t drink beer and my name is not Norm.

Monarch Mountain is such a place. Located 150 miles from Denver via U.S. 285, this small ski resort has soaring elevations, stellar family terrain, unbeatable views and big snow (it is second only to Wolf Creek for the biggest snow totals in Colorado). Unlike Summit County’s sardine-packed resorts, Monarch has no neighbors and there’s nothing fake about it—including the all-natural snow.

Click here to keep reading about our many adventures on the mountain, as well as our glorious stay at Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort.

Midway Mountain Mamas

Following an almost perfect reunion tour of Colorado, I almost dreaded our reentry into the real world. Would we be sad we moved here and pine to go back?

When we drove into our little valley, this sunset was blazing over a foot of fresh snow. A well cared for Fat Kitty greeted us at home and a thoughtful neighbor had plowed our steep driveway.

Deer Creek Reservoir

It isn’t Colorado but it’s still pretty darn great.

Fortunately, we were forced to launch back into school and work immediately so there was minimal time for mourning.

A huge dump of snow also brought frigid temperatures so I reminded Bode of what my Canadian forefathers said: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”

We repeated that 100X during his Nordic ski lesson.

Hadley is the kind of kid who does not like to be jam-packed with activities. She loves and needs her down-time so we didn’t enroll her in anything for the first four months we moved here. She resisted my pressuring to take ski lessons with Bode but asked to play volleyball so she started the local rec program last week. Almost immediately afterwards, I took her over to the church to play basketball with the Young Women. Since I have brain damage and a difficult time saying “no” (and an over-easy time inviting myself to new situations), I stayed to play with the girls, my first game in 20 years. I had forgotten about how much fun basketball is!

When I woke up the next morning? NotSoFun.  This darn knee will be the death of me!

That morning was sunny and -15 degrees.

Bode: I sure wish I didn’t have to walk to the bus stop.”

Me: (Sipping hot tea wrapped in a blanket): “Yeah, me too.”

It’s a tough world being raised by a Canadian mom.

Before the holidays, I started a Facebook group “Heber Valley Outdoor Families” for any locals who want to get out and play. Around the same time, my friend Sarah went snowshoeing and asked if anyone was interested. Her texting group is 35 women strong and growing. We had our first adventures this week! It was really cold when I left the house on Saturday morning but had warmed up to a balmy 0 degree by 10 a.m. That didn’t stop this tough bunch of ladies and we had a blast breaking trail in the glorious snow.

Yep, I’m missing Colorado but it’s tough to feel sad when we live in such an amazing place and are making wonderful new friends.

Soldier Hollow’s Youth League

When you live 5 miles away from the cross-country skiing venue of the 2002 Olympic Games, you’d better believe making it a part of your lives is a priority. The problem? I’m the only one in our family who loves to Nordic Ski. I grew up on the groomed track of the golf course across the street from my house and love love love that I’m finally living in a place that has a real winter.

Jamie claims he (somehow) got a concussion going 0.001-mile per hour the first time I took him cross-country skiing in Canada. He’s reluctantly skied a few times but claims it’s too much work and not as fun as downhill. Hadley took to it right away. When we were in Crested Butte a few years ago, our guide told her if she was local, she’d recruit her to train with the Junior Olympic Nordic Team. The problem? She had a horrible experience last winter at Snow Mountain Ranch so the one with the most potential refuses to go.

Fortunately, there is Bode who is the most easy-going bloke around so I enrolled him in Soldier Hollow’s Youth League. For just $150, he gets a season pass, twice weekly lessons for almost three months and rentals. For every two times I volunteer, I earn a free trail pass and rentals of my own.

Pinch me, this place is a dream.

Bode’s good buddy Eli is enrolled as well and I was thrilled to learn two other friends have kids in the exact same class. I know Midway is a small town but what are the odds? Bode is a strong downhill skier but has really taken to Nordic as well so I foresee many adventures in our future.

So, this is how we’ll be spending every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon this winter.

Sunset after the first day of classes

Already, 2017 is shaping up to be a good one.