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Many people envision majestic scenery, beautiful wildlife and glorious hikes when they think of Colorado. All of these are in great supply here in Clear Creek County.

But most of all when someone says Colorado, they think… skiing! Skiing has been a staple outdoor sportand hobby in our area for many years. Clear Creek County was a booming town until mining began to fade away. The one thing that revived the area in the late 1930s was the opening of a ski area on the east side of Arapaho National Forest. Loveland Basin Winter Sports Area, now known as Loveland Ski Area, was started by Al Bennett when he acquired one of the first permits from the United States Forest Service in 1937. His first actions were to install a rope tow powered by a Model-T engine so that all the fledgling skiers could easily gain access to the top of the mountain. 

Joyce Maulis, tenant of Project Support, remembers it well. “This was in 1943-1945,” she said. “When I was 8 years old, my mom bought my sister Barbara and I a pair of wooden skis and had a strap around the back of the boot. We had to wax the skies to make them go. I skied Loveland for a dollar a day. All Loveland had in those days were rope tows. You could not grab the rope, or you would be on your face! You had to let the rope slide through your hand and then press down. We wore out a lot of gloves during the season.”  

In modern times, we have skis made of slick composite material that quickly clip onto our feet. When skiing in Colorado was still becoming a popular tourist and native activity, most skis were wood that had to be waxed every day. We also now have gondolas and ski lifts to whisk us up to the top of the mountain.

Those who have been around for years remember well the long lines waiting for their turn on the tow rope and the timing it took to ensure you did not end up face first in the snow. Skiing would start early, as it still does today, to garner first crack at the fresh powder. Even then as the day wore on, the fun but strenuous hours of skiing took their toll. Today you may get lucky to catch the lift with friends or, if you are single, end up sitting next to someone that catches your eye on the gondola.

As Joyce recollects, girls in the beginning days of Loveland had a different approach.

“One nice thing about the rope tows when you were a teenager and a female was around 2 o’clock in the afternoon,” she said. “We would be too tired to hang on to the rope, so a nice young male teenager would put his arms around you to help you up the slope. Skiing was so much fun!”

I think we can all agree that getting outdoors during the winter can be a bit more involved as we age, checking the weather, layering up, ensuring we do not stay out too long and balancing our physical condition with our duration in the elements. Skiing can be one of those activities that although we are maturing into our golden years we can continue to do.

If you were born and raised here in Colorado and more specifically here in Clear Creek County, skiing is almost a part of your DNA. The cost of skiing has increased, but there are several places that give discounts to seniors for day passes and ski rentals. Loveland Ski Area offers a $50 pass for seniors to ride the gentle slopes in Loveland Valley. You can still pursue your favorite hobby but here are a few things to remember as you continue to ski:

Less is more, do not over do it. We tire faster as we age, so pay attention to your body. 

Use newer, safer equipment. If you do not have equipment, rentals are always available.

Wear a helmet

Ski smaller mountains, off peak

Alternate near-mountain activities with skiing such a time in the lodge, dining out, sightseeing

Protect your skin, eyes, and lips. Wear sunscreen, tinted googles and lip balm with spf protection.  

Warm-up before skiing with stretches

Stay hydrated

Ski during the warmest part of the day

Skiing can be a benefit to promote delaying bone loss, stronger back muscles, and is a great aerobic exercise for cardiovascular and respiratory health. 

Christy Recke MS, RN, CWCN currently works as a wound care nurse consultant and lives in Idaho Springs. She has been a nurse for 25 years and holds a Master’s degree in Complementary and Integrative Health. 

Editor’s note: This is part one in a two part column series about staying active in the winter.