Yearly Archives: 2019

Argh! Technology

A long Blogging absence has been due to technology. Not singularly of course, but primarily. The irony is that a huge attraction to Avalanche Ranch by our guests is the LACK of technology. No wi-fi, telephone or TV in the cabins. The perfect place to unplug and be present.

But a business in today’s world must operate on technology. So how does a business in a rural, river valley operate on technology when the connectivity provided in this area is sub-par? I have frequented a mangrove island 2 hours off-shore in Panama that had better internet than we have in Pitkin County, Colorado, United States of America. (Pitkin County is also where Aspen resides….?!) So a huge portion of my last 9 months in the office at Avalanche Ranch has been devoted to the back-side of the business, the ugly side in my opinion: software, internet and hardware.

The reservation software that we have been using for the last 10 years moved their platform to the cloud and did not offer an explanation to our crashing program, hours of aggravation and frustration until they finally admitted they stopped updating their premise-based software which we operated on. Wouldn’t it be lovely to move to the cloud? You can work from anywhere! All the time!
Ha! that’s funny on a few different levels. We don’t support the megabytes and bandwidth at Avalanche Ranch to operate on the cloud. I already live at my workplace and rarely go anywhere. And I already have the opportunity to work all the time!

So after research and a hair-pulling decision we threw down the big bucks for a platform that is much more than we need but promised to build us an online hot springs reservation module (coming soon!). Oh wait, we also had to purchase two servers, upgrade our computers and pay in numerous dollars for IT support. OUCH! I attended my first professional development retreat on how to use this system, a 4-day course in Avon, Colorado. (Which I really enjoyed because I got to talk about Lodging for 4 days with other Lodging people, without boring my kids to death.)
After purchasing the new program in February 2019, we were ready to launch the week of October 14. Ready is an exaggeration. Afraid of change is the reality. Each reservation had to be moved from one software to the other. Of course, the existing software did not build their program to be left behind. So there was no way to export the data (that we owned), no matter how many times I asked them. Or which week I asked them. They are not sick of me at all.

We have made the leap and as we had reservations booked into 2021 on the old software, we do not quite see the light at the end of the tunnel. We hope with all of our might that there aren’t too many errors and reservation transgressions. We would be incredibly naive to believe there are none. (So bear with us! And don’t hesitate to call to confirm a future reservation!) My experience with technology is such that it does not make life easier. It tends to throw a wrench in each and every day that challenges my patience, flexibility and sanity.
I would like to thank and possibly apologize to you all in advance for riding this current of change with us and putting up with our learning curve. At some point on the horizon, it will make us stronger and better for it!

Winter Wonderland

This winter feels like the real deal. The skies unleashed and the snow piled on. We have snow banks where last year was bare. We are living in a winter wonderland. From Avalanche Ranch there are a number of excursions that take full advantage of the beautiful landscape covered in white. Here are my favorites (always a dilemma whether to spill the local secrets).

Avalanche Creek Road: 1/4 mile from our driveway, the Avalanche Creek road is closed in the winter to vehicle traffic and dogs due to the Bighorn Sheep population that winters in the area. The road winds 3 miles up to the campground. It is a great gradient for snowshoeing, X-country skiing or backcountry ski touring.

Coal Basin Road: 4 miles from Avalanche Ranch take the first right South of the Coke Ovens by the Redstone turn-off. Drive about 1 mile up the road to where they stop plowing and park (careful where you park when the ground starts thawing, my car was almost obliterated last spring by a landslide). Coal Basin is a great ski or snowshoe route. The road climbs gradually and is a great classic ski tour for all abilities. Dogs are allowed and my dogs vote it #1 winter outing! It is a tight creek valley and is dramatic in the winter with ice formations dripping from the rocks.

Huntsman’s Ridge: Nearly to the top of McClure Pass, 15 minutes South of Avalanche Ranch, there is a pullout on the right-hand side of the road, 1/4 mile shy of the summit. Sometimes it is barely accessible by vehicle and is better that you park at the summit…. We have dug a few cars out in the winter. From this pullout follow the ski tracks to the N/W and begin the climb. It is a steep ascent from the start and requires snow-shoes or skins. It is about a 45-minute hike to the top of the ridge. Adventurous, equipped, back-country ski enthusiasts can make turns off the back side (avalanche terrain) or down the front side on low angle slopes. Touring up the ridge is beautiful too and the views are spectacular! Extreme sledding is my favorite past-time. The descent on a sled is technical and FAST.

McClure Pass Road: From early season in the fall through to late spring, the summit of McClure Pass provides winter access and great views. There is a big parking lot at the summit of the Pass. There is a dirt road that meanders S/E from the parking lot. In the winter the road is not maintained and is a great ski tour or snowshoe. The gradient is mellow, perfect for lightweight equipment and for all ages and abilities.

Spring Gulch: My favorite groomed trail system in Colorado (no bias of course)! About 10 minutes outside Carbondale (so about 30 minutes from Avalanche Ranch) on County Road 106, Spring Gulch is a nordic paradise. The 20+ kilometers of trails wind through Sage, Juniper, Pinon and Aspen. Even when the parking lot is full you hardly see a soul. Keep your head up for deer crossings. Spring Gulch is a ski only trail system, so no snow shoes and no dogs. Spring Gulch is a membership funded trail system so there is no cost but feel free to leave a donation!