lone skier on groomed path in front of old fluorspar millWinter is already melting away  at the 4UR, here is a look back at a cross-country ski event, one of the many fun pastimes from early 2016!

On Sunday January 10th, The Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT) partnered with the San Juan Nordic Club held a Cross-Country Ski Clinic at the 4UR. They came out the day before the clinic to groom about a 1 1&2 mile ski trail around the barn and closest pastures.

skiier starts out on colorado guest ranch groomed trail

The day was sunny and cold, starting off at -20 degrees at 10 am. Over 50 people from all over the San Luis Valley attended the clinic. Ability levels ranged from novice skiers trying their hand (or shall we say ‘feet’) at cross-country skiing to more advanced skiers learning to skate-ski. Many of the participants had never been to the 4UR and loved the chance to ski here and take in the beauty. All of the equipment was donated for the day by 8200 Mountain Sports located in South Fork.

close up of ski instructor showing two women how to properly turn

Getting instruction on how to properly turn.

cross country ski instructor talks to group of men and women

Beginners getting some basic instruction before heading out on the groomed trails.

The clinic kicked things off in the horse barn where skiers received properly sized equipment, followed by a short introduction from San Juan Nordic Club member Adam Moore. Adam explained the different types of skis, boots, and waxing techniques. The eager participants broke into groups for lessons and hit the trail. Everyone skied until noon when a chili potluck lunch was served in the newly remodeled great room of the barn. This gave everyone a chance to visit with one another and warm up their toes!

woman squats to pet dog during her ski. Both look toward camera

4UR Wrangler AnneKate Sledd stops to pet her dog, Biggie during her cross-country ski.

woman and girl smile for camera with cross-country skis strapped on

Yoga Instructor and wife of Foreman/Head Wrangler, Kiera Gibbons takes daughter Adelaide out on the trails.

After lunch, Allen Law, Stewardship Director at RiGHT, lead a ranch tour to discuss the recent conservation easement at the 4UR. Allen said, “By the time of the tour it had warmed up (a little) – I even took my hat and gloves off for most of the afternoon! About twenty or thirty people came on the tour, and I led the group south on the road to the old cabins. At two spots we stopped to talk about the 4UR’s history, what you all do now, how conservation easements help to protect that history while still letting you manage your ranch how you want, and then about the wildlife habitat, fire, and this year’s restoration project on Goose Creek. Around two o’clock most people were all skied out, but a few people wanted to keep going, so I led them a little ways further down the road where we saw six elk out in the pasture – it was a super cool surprise and reward for staying out!”

group of skiers wait for instruction at bottom of hill
As you might already know, over 1400 acres of the ranch’s land have been placed under conservation by RiGHT, who’s goal of conserving 25,000 acres along the Rio Grande has now been met! We are thrilled to be a part of this worthwhile endeavor.

cross-country skier heads up hill of groomed rocky mountain ranch trail