When it comes to planning ladies retreats that don't include sewing circles (not that there is anything wrong with that), Colorado has a lot to offer. Just an hour from the city one can find an endless list of outdoor options to fill your days. This past March some friends of mine were celebrating a 30th birthday and decided to plan a ladies weekend retreat in Vail that included cooking, wine, and a guided 2-hour snow shoeing hike through Vail's aspen filled forest.
About half of the group was experiencing snowshoeing for the first time, while the other half were a bit more seasoned. For beginners it was suggested that a guide was lead the group through Vail's trail system so we hired a guide from Vail Athletic Club to take us on the trails safely. Upon arrival, our friendly guide Ellen Price helpfully suggested clothing and shoe options and then took us outside to show us how to put on our snowshoes.
"I was really nervous that I would hold back the group because I did not know what I was doing and I have asthma but she (Price) was really nice," said Whitney Reeter. "She was really good at slowing the experienced people down by pointing things out and making suggestions. That gave me a chance to catch my breath and get a drink of water."
Helpful suggestions on how to scale the slippery trail (low snow pack resulted in iced over sections and even areas that were muddy) and attentive one-on-one help getting through some tricky areas made having a guide both comforting and worth the price. It also helped ease some of our fears so that when we fell, slid or had difficulty getting back up it was nothing more than a laughing matter. Needless to say, there was a lot of laughing.
In the end, our guide suggested that our group was a bit too advanced for a guide and may benefit from just renting snow shoes the next time we wanted to try hiking. With that said, I would suggest getting a guide if you have never snowshoed before and you are trying a new location.
For more information, visit www.vailathleticclub.com/vail_outdoors.html.