Two dogs frolic at the C Lot

As I sat on the back of my hatchback, I watched with amusement at the doggie soiree going on in front of me.  Four dogs of assorted size and colors gathered around the tailgate festivities going on at the truck next to me.  The Blue Heeler mix sat with adoring eyes gazing up at his master.  The Border Collie mix, not to be outdone, paced in front.  Then they were joined by a very nattily dressed Great Dane mix, complete with green coat adorning his long-legged frame.  Finally, a Golden Retriever puppy came romping up, not wanting to be left out of the action.

Being a dog lover, I couldn’t stand to see them be denied of their desired treats.  Scrounging in my pockets, I found some left over peanut butter dog biscuits and whistled at them.  Tails wagging, they dutifully took their treats and ran off — literally dashing through the snow!

Such is the scene at the Challenger Parking Lot at the Mary Jane side of Winter Park Ski Resort.  The “C Lot” is known as the locals lot — it’s the spot where day-tripping, hard core skiers from the Front Range lay claim to while heading off in search of powder on the black diamond slopes of Derailer, Boiler, Trestle and Needle’s Eye.  On a nice day, tailgating is a common activity with smells of hot dogs, burgers, and other yummy food wafting through the air.

It’s also the place where locals bring their dogs to hang out while they are out in search of “pow”.  On any given morning, 10 or more dogs can be seen zooming around the cars, running up the snow banks, digging in the snow prior to hanging out in the back of a pick-up or SUV.  Fortunately, since it is a locals crowd, everyone seems to take the influx of the 4-legged furry friends with good nature, reaching out a hand for a pat on the head or to provide a dog biscuit.  One of the long-time locals called the snow bank bordering the south side of the parking lot, “Pooper’s Ridge” jokingly.

Our pooches have been part of this gathering on many occasion.  Shawnee, the Border Collie, is the social one, immediately immersing herself in the midst of the other cluster of dogs, chasing and frolicking.  Simon, our retriever, is more of a loner, preferring to peruse the parking lot on his own, sniffing and marking his territory accordingly.

I’m thankful here in Colorado, that the ski resorts seem to accept bringing dogs as part of the skiing scene and not enforce rules about dogs.  That’s not the case everywhere as we found out on a road trip to Utah one spring.  We had our dog, Simon, with us and brought him in the car for a day of skiing.  Temps were cool, so we rolled the windows down partially.  Wanting to be cautious, we took him out briefly on the leash to “do his business” and were shocked when a ski area employee stopped us.

“There are no dogs allowed here.”

“Oh, you mean on the grounds of the parking lot.  We’ll put him in the car.”

“No, you can’t even have in  your car.  Dogs are prohibited from being up in Big Cottonwood Canyon, period.”

“You mean even if he’s in our car the whole time?”

“Yes.  You’ll have to leave and take him back to town.”

We were incredulous.  Wow!  After that, we realized we wouldn’t be coming back to ski (or hike) in the Wasatch Mountains around Salt Lake for a long time.  And I sure as heck wouldn’t ever consider living there.

Thank goodness for the mellowness of Colorado and our love of dogs.  Yay for the C Lot!