Wolf Creek as your "home mountain"

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Re: Wolf Creek as your "home mountain"

Postby MTN » Mon Jul 18, 2016 2:11 pm

Hello from Driggs, ID! Can't believe I found someone who has moved to Pagosa from Teton Valley, but here you are! I have so many questions. :) So, a bit about us. Both my husband and self work from home; we've lived in lots of mountain locations in the west. I actually lived in CO for over a decade before meeting hubby in Summit Cty. We've tried the Tahoe area - like it but the drought is bad. We can't reliably put a raft in the water there, nor do you ever know if there will be snow for winter sports! Now we are in Teton Valley. We actually like it well enough, but it is so isolated (can't stand the drive down to Salt Lake for flights) and the weather isn't great. Both CO and CA have beautiful, sunny weather year-round; one gets spoiled. We can't deal with the "miz viz" at Targhee, not seeing the sun for months and the awful WIND (it is gusting like a mo fo as I type). Having said that, we do love ID! We prefer how much friendlier people are (IMO) and don't miss the chip on the shoulder, bro brah CO attitude or crowds. So, now we are alternating between McCall (doesn't solve the bad climate issue) and Pagosa. How are you liking it there? Is it over-run with tourists? What's the community like (TV community is wonderful, as you may recall)? Do the amenities seem better than TV (of course they are, the grocery store is open 7 days a week!)? Have you flown out of DGO yet, how is that? So...yeah....there are a bunch of my questions in a nut-shell and I appreciate your insight! For the record, we have been to PG many times. It was the previous contender before moving to Driggs, but we found a house we liked here better and wanted to try out ID. Wow! Thank you and cheers from Teton Valley!
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Re: Wolf Creek as your "home mountain"

Postby snowave » Sun Jul 24, 2016 10:58 am

Hey there MTN,

Sounds like we have a lot in common. I'll try to answer your questions the best I can. We've only been in Pagosa since May, so keep that in mind when reading my opinions. I also realize you may know some of these answers I've provided since you've visited many times.

We strongly considered moving back to Teton Valley after Montana, but the biggest reasons against that were the housing was getting extremely limited/expensive and yes, the wind! (So, I know what you mean about that). It is breezy here in Pagosa, but part of that is due to where we live 20 miles south of town in a bit of a wind tunnel between the mountains and open meadows. Still, it's not nearly as bad as TV. We also found TV to be a bit too conservative with the LDS influence.. not a huge deal, but it was obvious with several things, especially after we left. That would not have kept us from moving back, however if the wind and housing issues were not such a concern.

Weather... As you're probably aware, drought is always a concern anywhere in the west. However, I think Pagosa is a bit more susceptible to it than TV. We are on the edge of the San Juan Basin here... which is more or less the beginning of the expansive desert southwest.( There have always been water concerns in this area, and you have to be careful if you buy property with or without a well). Most of the time, we rely on storms that only come from the south or southwest... most other directions produce little precipitation. (Teton Valley can bring in storms from the SW and NW.)

As far as reliable rafting, I don't know if that's something you can always count on here either, but the San Juan's ( and Wolf Creek) seem to do a pretty good job at pulling in the snow... however, I think it is still more volatile than Targhee/the Tetons. (TonyC confirmed that with his snowfall stats for both ski areas). You will get more sun here for sure... nearly 300 days, vs TV's 200. That is a big reason we left Montana as Whitefish got only around 150! We didn't think Teton Valley was that bad, but that's somewhat relative for people. Both valley areas average around 20" of water a year, and roughly 100" of snow. Overall, it's warmer here in PS, but nights always get pretty cool thanks to the very dry air.

Yes, Foghee can get a bit annoying at times, but after living in Whitefish... it seemed MUCH less of a issue! I think Wolf Creek is a place where if it's cloudy, it's usually snowing...otherwise, it's often sunny. While I've only been to Wolf Creek once (last year during a dry spell).... I think Targhee blows away Wolf Creek for terrain quality/variety. But it's known to have quite a few epic powder days, and low skier density, so there is that. Wolf Creek also submitted an expansion plan last year to add a couple more lifts and terrain, so if approved... a few years from now, it could be a bit different place with more variable terrain.

The TOWN...

Pagosa's year round population is officially only around 1700.. but that's pretty misleading. The county population is upwards of 15,000... with the majority of that being within 25 miles of Pagosa. While I still feel it retains a small town vibe, it's been very busy/touristy this summer so far. (Much more so than TV was/is)... locals say it's the busiest they've ever seen. Even so, other than traffic on US 160 that runs through town, I haven't felt too overwhelmed by it. Part of that is that we live 20 miles south of town on 35 acres, but even when going to town... you can still get in and out of the stores, etc without wanting to strangle people. There is often a wait for to eat in the early evenings at many local eating places, but we've gone before or after the "rush" and not had any problems at most spots. Spring was not busy at all, and people say winter is pretty mellow here, except for the holidays and some weekends. Even when busy, it just doesn't seem all that "touristy" to me, like a Jackson or anything... but definitely moreso than TV as there is a lot more to do here than in Driggs or Victor other than get a bite to eat to/from Jackson/Yellowstone/Targhee.

I know what you mean about the CO attitude (I have lived and vacationed in Summit Co), but I've not experienced that in Pagosa at all. People are very friendly and accepting so far, and we've made friends a lot easier than in TV or many other places we've lived. There are tons of community oriented events here, and many more options than TV, IMO. It's a bit bigger community, so you might not have quite the intimacy of TV with some of those things. Same goes with amenities... many more good places to eat and shop (including 3 excellent brewpubs with great food). And while some things are closed on Sunday, it's nothing like TV. There is also Walmart that opened up a couple years ago in "uptown", which normally would be a turnoff to me in a small town, but it's a small-ish Walmart, and very nicely done... and sits back off the highway with structural mountain theme design.

The hospital in town is expanding and seems pretty well equipped. I've had some bad experiences with the primary care dept, but they are mostly billing and communication issues, not the care itself. Probably the biggest issue we've seen is getting help with our house remodeling. People in that industry here are horribly unreliable/flakey. Of course, we didn't have good experiences in TV with people in that industry either, so it's likely somewhat of a small town thing. I haven't noticed that issue with any of the other services in town, however.

My wife travels quite a bit, and she has flown out of DGO a couple times. It's about 60 min to the airport, and it's small, but effective. Winter could be a bit challenging driving during any storms, but not anything worse than going over Teton Pass to Jackson. DGO is expensive though, as you might expect... maybe even more so than JAC. My wife just chose to drive to Boulder, CO for a conference instead of fly because the rate to DEN for an hour flight was $650! Part of that is the season, and part of it is United being greedy assholes. It's a bit cheaper to fly to SLC and a few other locations. Great Lakes Air also flies out of Alamosa (2 hr drive) that is quite a bit cheaper, I think.

Pagosa is pretty isolated by most peoples standards, maybe just as much as Driggs... but Pagosa has more amenities, so it's not as noticeable to me as it was in Driggs. Durango is about 60-75 min from Pagosa proper, where you an find quite a bit more shopping/dining and a few of the big box stores (Home Depot, Super Walmart, etc).. Farmington NM is about 2 hrs away (not been there yet), and has ALL the box stores and a Sam's Club. Albuquerque NM is about 3.5 hrs and has everything. That's where we go for our quarterly Costco runs (it's only about 3 hrs from our house). CO Springs is about 4:15 and Denver about 5.5 hrs.

We also considered McCall, but it seemed even more isolated to me, (with limited amenities for being that far from anything else). The avg sunny days there are actually similar to Driggs (200 days/yr).

Overall, Pagosa has been on our list for some time... after TV, and Montana. There is no perfect place out there with everything we all want, but after renting for 5 yrs in all those other places, we finally decided to settle down here for a while based upon visits, and tons of research and comparison charts :-D . You better hurry though if you want to buy, as prices are going up here... still below many "resort town" areas though.

Feel free to PM with with more questions!

Todd
Last edited by snowave on Tue Jul 26, 2016 8:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wolf Creek as your "home mountain"

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Jul 24, 2016 5:38 pm

Very interesting insights. I recall snowave lived originally in SoCal so I get the being used to sun.
snowave wrote:I think Wolf Creek is a place where if it's cloudy, it's usually snowing...otherwise, it's often sunny.

This is generally true at CA, CO and UT ski areas. When I expanded my ski horizons north into interior B.C. in 1997, it's the first thing I noticed. I call it the "Great Gray North." Throw in a big lake nearby, as at Schweitzer, Whitefish or Big White and you will see a ton of fog. From a skier's perspective I like those places OK because of well spaced trees, but I suspect living in that climate would get old pretty fast. OR, ID and WY appear to be transitional zones. I think Bachelor and Jackson are fairly sunny; Targhee and the western side of the Oregon Cascades are more like "Great Gray North." I could tell by the attitude of locals in Missoula that it's firmly in the gray zone. They were elated on the sunny day I was at Montana Snowbowl in early February 2012, and they were wearing T-shirts at the local Costco.

I would assume Pagosa is a bad place for air travel as DGO rates to be an expensive airport. But it's interesting to read that in terms of day to day living it's less isolated and has more amenities than Driggs/Victor. That probably goes along with Durango being more cosmopolitan than Idaho Falls.

I'll remind snowave that he needs to return to his old TV home grounds in 2017 for the August 21 total solar eclipse. How cloudy is TV in August? I'm guessing it's likely sunnier a bit farther away from the mountains in Rexburg, or alternatively on the leeward side of the Tetons.
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Re: Wolf Creek as your "home mountain"

Postby snowave » Tue Jul 26, 2016 9:34 am

yeah, not seeing the sun all winter sucks. I love storms and clouds... just not that slate gray for 3+ months. I really didn't mind Teton Valley's sun/cloud ratio. Those 200 days of sun are spread out a lot more evenly than Leavenworth, WA 200 days of sun... I think January was the only time I remember in Teton Valley that got a couple weeks of intermittent (cloud) inversions (it was only 1 year I lived there, however). Jackson gets about 10 more days of sun a year over Driggs, but they are actually little more susceptible to inversions in the winter due to the topography.

And you're right... the transition zone of the heavy gray is roughly along the WY, Central/Southern ID line.
http://www.nrel.gov/gis/images/map_pv_u ... ay2004.jpg
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Re: Wolf Creek as your "home mountain"

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:08 pm

Yes that map confirms my impressions but it's not the entire story. Seasonal maps would be useful. The eastern half of WA,OR gets as much PV solar radiation as SoCal/Arizona in the summer (some of that is for having longer daylight) but has some degree of the winter gray season. That's why eastern Oregon has the best August clear skies track record on next summer's eclipse path.

Most of AZ/NM see more clouds/rain in summer than winter.
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Re: Wolf Creek as your "home mountain"

Postby MTN » Sat Jul 30, 2016 2:56 pm

Wow, thank you for your response! I think you said exactly what I had expected, haha! It sounds like PS is treating you pretty well. :) Absolutely agree that the terrain here is way better than WC, but I think the other amenities of town may make up for it. (And no wind, still whipping like mad as I type.) Glad to hear that it has a good sense of community. We do enjoy our friends here and found that of all the places we have lived, TV has been the easiest to connect with people. Probably because you see the same small group of outdoor enthusiasts over and over again, lol. Anyhow, thanks a ton for the good info. Who knows, maybe we will end up there after all! Enjoy your new home and surroundings!
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Re: Wolf Creek as your "home mountain"

Postby snowave » Tue Aug 02, 2016 1:14 pm

"Absolutely agree that the terrain here is way better than WC, but I think the other amenities of town may make up for it."

That's the way we looked at it... it's tough to have it all. Gotta prioritize and look at the big picture.

Good Luck, and again... feel free to PM me for any more questions!

Todd
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Re: Wolf Creek as your "home mountain"

Postby snowave » Tue Aug 02, 2016 1:21 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:Yes that map confirms my impressions but it's not the entire story. Seasonal maps would be useful. The eastern half of WA,OR gets as much PV solar radiation as SoCal/Arizona in the summer (some of that is for having longer daylight) but has some degree of the winter gray season. That's why eastern Oregon has the best August clear skies track record on next summer's eclipse path.

Most of AZ/NM see more clouds/rain in summer than winter.



You are correct. I was lazy and just got the annual solar chart.. And yes, those areas do indeed tend to have a moderate to severe gray season as well, as living in Leavenworth WA for a year showed me. I actually felt it was worse than Whitefish, partly due to more trees and lower/stronger inversions.

Those areas are all part of the Columbia River Basin, which is notorious for being a big bowl of gray in the winter... or at least about 3/4 of it. Inversion hell as I called it.
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Re: Wolf Creek as your "home mountain"

Postby snowave » Fri Mar 31, 2017 10:00 am

Well, after riding a season here I can confirm the place is indeed FLAT. Yes, there are some short, steeper sections around, but many of those areas require a hike (sorry, I just don't enjoy doing that very much anymore), then you have to focus on bombing those areas so you can make the runout/flat sections. Being on a board only magnifies the problem, as Tony mentioned earlier in this thread. I suspect learning the area even more will continue improve those things a bit, but it's not going to make that big of a difference.

I don't hate the place, but it bores me pretty quick. Thankfully, good snow quality and quantity, along with generally light crowds makes it almost tolerable. It's obvious to me now why this mountain is so popular for Texans and Flatlanders! Good thing we love everything else about Pagosa, and that it's not ALL about the mountain!

I did make it to Purgatory (decent mountain, IMO with a much better variety) and Taos this year. (Taos is good, but it has it's flaws as well- snow variability... again, a lot of hiking, slow lifts and poor management of Kachina). I bought the wife and I the Mountain Collective Passes for next year, so while I will still get an overpriced season pass to WC, I will also try to spend some time traveling to Telluride, Taos and some other places that I can use the pass.
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Re: Wolf Creek as your "home mountain"

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Mar 31, 2017 1:11 pm

I think snowave needs to give up the board and take up skiing if he's going to live in that area long term. It's a killer for the "benchiness" of Wolf Creek. And liking Purgatory better than Taos is surely a function of equipment.

Taos is plenty steep but as at Alta lots of the good stuff is at the end of traverses/short hikes. I'm sure that topography influenced some of the resistance to allowing snowboarding at Taos. And as I predicted when they did allow boarders, it was a non-issue because boarders don't like that topography and would be unlikely to make up a large proportion of Taos' overall visits in the long run.
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Re: Wolf Creek as your "home mountain"

Postby snowave » Sun Apr 02, 2017 10:45 am

I'm right here, you don't have to keep talking to me in 3rd person (or whatever it is).

I didn't say I 'liked Purg better than Taos... It just met/exceeded my expectations better. Sorry if that' the way it was interpreted.

And while I get your comment about switching to skis, it's pretty unlikely that is going to happen. 25 yrs on a stick, and 2 days on skis. :ski:

Lastly, I will readily admit my style of riding has changed in the last 5 yrs or so. I still go after the powder, but once it's tracked or cruded out, I prefer doing bomber runs on the groomers. So that undoubtedly has an impact on what type of mountain I prefer, which I realize is generally different than much of the crowd here on this forum.
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Re: Wolf Creek as your "home mountain"

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Apr 02, 2017 3:14 pm

I generally use third person on ski forums in case threads wander so it's easier to track for future reference. No offense intended.

I'm not dogmatic at all about one's snow riding equipment. After my younger son Andrew had a couple of years of chronic foot pain in ski boots in adolescence with the his 12EE feet, I told him to switch to snowboarding in 2008 even though he had more ski experience. He was immediately more comfortable and soon progressed his snowboard ability beyond where he had been on skis. Andrew enjoys being out in the snow much more since the switch though he hasn't gotten out much since he moved to Eureka.

You have made it clear that many factors besides the snow influenced the move to Pagosa Springs. Since most of those factors have lived up to expectations it seems likely you will be there for a while. If so, skiing is likely to be more versatile and enjoyable than snowboarding at the mountains you will be visiting most often. My impression is that snow riding skills (edge control etc.) are quite transferable. If you're advanced at one sport the learning curve for the other one tends to be fast. I observed this with Adam when he dabbled in snowboarding from ages 12-16.
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Re: Wolf Creek as your "home mountain"

Postby snowave » Sun Apr 02, 2017 4:57 pm

The 3rd person reference wasn't offending as much as it was just annoying to me. Do what you please, obviously.

The couple times I have put on skis, I actually did quite well from what I have been told. I just didn't like all the apparatus, and horribly uncomfortable boots (although, I'm comparing to rental boots, so...) I also felt like it was much more work on skis having to worry about 4 edges, instead of 2, (not to mention the poles) but I'm sure that can be said for anyone trying something new.

I agree with you in that it would likely be me much easier to get around the terrain in these parts on skis. I'd also probably enjoy it more too, since sliding thru crud or other off piste terrain seems to be less work than on a snowboard (except in the pow, of course), which tends to a not absorb the snow inconsistencies nearly as well. I have a couple friends that do both (tend to ride on powder days and ski on others- or when they plan to hike/traverse), so maybe I should look into it.

We are getting horses this week, so that may be the inspiration to try out skiing more, so I can dabble in skijoring around the property.
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Postby ShiftyRider » Mon Apr 03, 2017 10:59 pm

Wassup with the horses? They live a long time FWIW...
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Re:

Postby Marc_C » Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:24 am

ShiftyRider wrote:Wassup with the horses? They live a long time FWIW...

They're a requirement in Pagosa Springs.
Just like mandatory dog ownership in Boulder.
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