Extreme Winter Sport: Ski Joring
This weekend was the third annual Ski Joring event in Silverton, Colorado, a town known for some of the best snow in the world! Basically, Ski Joring is an extreme winter sport where a horse and rider pull a skier at a fast pace through a course that has gates, jumps and rings. The skier is timed through the course, and penalties are assessed by missing gates or jumps, and by missing or dropping any of the rings (two seconds each). The competitors race for cash prizes, and teams are made up by a random draw before the start. Basically, you’ll see die-hard skijorers and their trusty steeds race and jump—right down snow-packed main street!
Skijoing has evolved into a sport that uses a horse and rider that pulls a skier down a snow-packed road over multiple jumps while retrieving rings in a timed competition. This event really took off in Colorado in the 1950’s. Ski Joring events include multiple classes: the Open Class, for experienced competitive teams; the Sport Class, for beginners; and the Snowmobile Class, for inexperienced and younger teams who are looking to get into the sport.
The drive to Silverton was a beautiful one, a bit windy butt the views were amazing. Silverton is a National Historic Landmark, part of the San Juan Skyway, the summer destination for the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad train ride, a recreational paradise in Winter for snowmobiling, skiing, sledding, ice skating, ice climbing, and ice fishing. Secluded at 9,318 feet, a visit to Silverton is one that you will not forget any time of year. A perfect combination of supreme natural beauty and magnificent Victorian charm.
The sport of Ski Joring began several hundred years ago in Scandinavian countries as a way to travel during the long winters. Laplanders skied on Nordic skis holding the reins attached to reindeer. Ski Joring found its way to North America, where ranchers attached a long rope to the saddle horn of a horse that was ridden at high speeds down a long straight-away. Currently, the sport of equestrian Ski Joring has become a highly specialized competitive sport, where competitors must navigate a course of jumps, gates and sometimes spear rings. Competitive Ski Joring competitions are currently taking place in more than five states in the USA, and in several countries worldwide. In some parts of the world, skiers are pulled behind dogs, mules and snowmobiles. Whatever the means, the sport of Ski Soring is growing rapidly, and is just as much fun for spectators as it is for competitors. Courtesy of the North American Ski Joring Association.
The SNOWDOWN winter celebration in Durango is now in full-swing. This year's theme is "Once Upon a Snowdown" and is intended to promote costumes, games, parties, a parade, and many fun activities relating to "fairy tales" and is to help with the "Cabin Fever" syndrome that tends to infiltrate the community during the winter season. Perhaps it could be aptly called "The Winter Blues" for some, but not us!
We truly do love and appreciate the snow, partly because all of us ski or snowboard. And incidentally, our grandson Aksel, now age 3, is becoming an avid skier already! I'ts amazing to see how quickly he has learned and it won't be long before he'll be out-skiing the whole family!
But mainly the snow is needed to produce water for the summer. The rivers, lakes, and reservoirs require tremendous amounts of water to sustain our area, so we are blessed when the snow accumulates and is stored in the high mountains surrounding our magnificently beautiful area. Winters are truly spectacular here!
This brings to mind, a poem that I wrote for the WTR 2010 newsletter, which does not relate to the winter doldrums but instead to a "Once Upon a Time" story for our family. I did actually write it during the winter however , so certainly my thoughts were on reopening the ranch for the coming season.
Once upon a time....
It was actually in the late fall of 1969.
Could this really be?
Gene and Jan bringing our search to reality.
A ranch in the mountains, next to a stream,
To have horses and guests, that was our dream.
Wilderness Trails was the property's name,
the ideal place for us to stake our claim.
What a learning experience was year number one,
ending with Lance's birth, just like a home run!
We struggled through issues we didn't expect:
financial challenges, repairs, marketing, but what the heck!
We landed and lived in the most beautiful place
with no noise or pollution and miles of open space.
The next member of our family, a beautiful girl,
more love and joy into our lives, Erika, what a thrill.
Randy would spend summers to learn what he could
about horses and packing as any young cowboy would.
In traveling this path for more than 40 years,
We've had to adjust and often change gears.
Fires, drought, 9/11, gas rations, economy dips,
stock market drops and folks not taking trips.
Our family we've raised in this corner of the west
to believe that our heritage and hard work is best.
Believe in your goals, have respect and be fair.
The privilege of being here is humbling and rare.
How blessed we are to be able to share
our ranch, horses and valley with others who care
about the clear air and water, plus incredible nights
with the bright stars that glisten when we turn off the lights.
Our hearts and our souls are wrapped up in this place.
This way of life, we have truly embraced.
Although we've been through some blood, sweat and tears,
our passion will continue throughout the upcoming years.
So now we begin the next decade, with the same
resolve to learn, improve, evaluate and remain
in this valley we've called home year in and year out,
Love for our family, friends, guests, staff, land and horses---
This is what our life is about.
"And they lived happily ever after!"
See you this coming summer.....
Jan and Gene Roberts
Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall our mountains bring back a sense of child like wonder!
Mountains were John Muir’s inspiration, religion, and heart’s home. The naturalist, author, and early wilderness advocate relished the mountains while he was in them, and pined for them when he wasn’t. Boy, can we relate.
The reasons people are drawn to mountains are as diverse as individual ranges themselves. The sight of mountains awe us, they are full of close-up surprises when we explore them on foot, they are a sanctuary to wildlife, and in them we can experience both peaceful quiet and stirring drama.
Vallecito Lake sitting under the back drop of the Weminuche Wilderness...
and the back yard to Wilderness Trails Ranch!
If the Mountains are calling you join us at the ranch in 2012! For our local friends, who want to visit "our Winter Wonderland" and join the special holiday celebration, please consider joining us this weekend!
*There is nothing quite like Christmas in the mountains and there is definitely nothing quite as spectacular as "Christmas in Vallecito"! The majestic snow draped mountains peeking over our beautiful valley and lake, miles of trails glistening like crystals in the endless rocky mountain sunshine and of course the sounds of the season - from sleigh bells to children's laughter - a winter paradise awaits and we want to share it with you!
Please join us for a weekend of events here in the valley beginning Friday evening, December 16th and ending Sunday evening, December 18th, 2011. For more information on these events, simply comment on this event page and we will answer promptly.
LISTING OF EVENTS - December 16, 17 & 18, 2011
Festival of Trees Tour – 6:00pm to 9:00pm (See 4 local homes open to tour offering refreshments and raffle for seasonal gift basket). Benefiting the Vallecito Service League Community Assistance and Project Merry Christmas. Bring a canned food item for the local food bank. Maps for homes and tickets ($10.00/per person, kids free) sold at local stores and Vallecito Service League
* Community Pancake Breakfast - 8:00am to 11:00am (Event Center)
* Up North Salon Open House – 9:00am to 3:00pm
* Dog Sled Rides - 11:00am to 1:00pm
* Kids Christmas Party and Photos with Santa and Mrs. Clause
2:00pm to 4:00pm (Blue Spruce RV Park Lodge)
* The Polar Express Movie – 5:30pm to 7:00pm (Polished Salon)
* Home lighting Contest – Judging will take place on Saturday Evening
* Poker Run – 5:00pm to 7:00pm (Starting point and registration at the Schank House) Bring a canned food item for the local food bank
* Kirk James Blues Band – 7:00pm to 11:00pm (Schank House)
* Ugly Sweater Contest – Judging at 9:00pm (Schank House)
* Photo Booth – 7:00pm to 11:00pm (Schank House)
* Christmas Comes Alive! – 6:00pm to 8:00pm (Vallecito Church)
a living nativity
* Sunday Brunch – 8:00am to 1:00pm (Schank House)
* Sleigh Rides – 1:00pm to 3:00pm (Behind the Schank House)
* Christmas Carroling – 1:00pm to 3:00pm (In front of Schank House)
* Kids Rides on the Holiday Express Train – 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Ongoing - Both Saturday and Sunday:
* The Giving Tree – Tuesday November 29th through Tuesday December 20th (The Vallecito Country Market) Pick a tag off the tree for a child or family in need to make their Christmas a special one
* The Cookie Shack – 8:00am to 4:00pm (Sat), 10:00am to 2:00pm (Sunday) (The Rocky Mountain General Store)
* Craft Fair – Crafters Welcome!
* Ice Sculpting Contest – 10:00am to 4:00pm
(Behind Schank House) Judging at 4:00pm Saturday and Sunday
* Ice Skating – 10:00am to 4:00pm Saturday and Sunday
(Behind the Schank House, no hockey sticks please)
* The Nordic Center Cross Country Ski and Snowshoeing – 10:00am to 2:00pm Cookies and hot chocolate at Madden Corner (where the homes are located, just over the dam about 2 miles ahead
* The Forest Service Xmas Tree Cutting Permits for Middle Mountain - Rocky Mountain General Store
* Campfire, Smores and Hot Chocolate – 1:00pm to 3:00pm
(Behind Schank House)