Real Elevation: Climbing Wilson Peak. Photo: Doug Schnitzspahn

Though I love lists just as much as the next magazine reader, there is something silly about them. This issue we give you a pretty fantastic run down of “The Best of Colorado,” as chosen by the editorial staff here and readers through an online survey. It’s a fantastic list and I’m sure you will be excited to read it. There’s just one problem… when it comes down to it, my best experiences in this state have depended on the people as much as the place.

So I decided to run through my own personal best of Colorado list by the people who joined me.

Best Campground: Olive Ridge with my two children, my wife, my brother and two other families. Truth be told, there is nothing special about the Olive Ridge Campground, which sits between Allenspark and Wild Basin, but it is one amazing place to simply get off the grid and enjoy some time with people you care about. In the heat of summer, a cool breeze rolls through the ponderosa and at night the sky is a canvas of constellations. What more do you need? Oh, marshmallows, says my four-year-old son. Yes, marshmallows.

Best Ski Run: An unnamed shot in Vail’s Blue Sky Basin with my friend Mike Finkel. Mike and I had not skied together in years. We were back in Blue Sky and overheard an instructor telling his charges, “That is the steepest shot on the mountain,” and pointing to it with his ski pole. “That one? Right there?” we asked interrupting. The instructor nodded. Mike and I launched into it with childish gusto that would have made Shane McConkey proud—as the ski students looked on with wide eyes.

Best Singletrack: The Colorado Trail, Tennessee Pass to Copper, with friend Isaac Stokes. Isaac and I have been on so many countless adventures, some that have ended up in the dark without a headlamp. As did this high alpine epic, but in between there was pushing, bombing, gritty climbing and the joy of exploring the mountains with a good friend.

Best 14er: Wilson Peak, San Juans, with Backbone Media and a cadre of journalists. I go on a lot of press events hosted by PR people, which is fantastic, but I have to admit that sometimes I miss the joy of figuring it all out on my own, of the experience being a bit more authentic. I forgot I was on a press trip here. Instead it simply felt like a group of friends scrambling around doing what we love to do best. Sadly, Bean Bowers, who was on the trip, died of cancer this past year.

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