Julie (whose last name I’ll leave anonymous) has been living on a beautiful plot of land, on Guanella Pass, since the 60’s. Her house, along with three other cabins, sit on the edge of Duck Lake, at the base of an old abandoned ski area called Geneva Basin (which closed in 1984). Every year she is isolated from civilization when the snow forces the pass to close for over six months. When one of Andrew’s co-workers made a trip up there to bring her supplies, he mentioned to Andrew that we should check out the skiing and visit with her. After a short phone call with Julie, we were invited to come visit and see where she lived. When Andrew thanked her for allowing us to explore her property she said, “Honey, I don’t own this property, it belongs to nature.”
We arrived to find an adorable cabin and one of the friendliest people you will ever meet. We drank coffee with her, and asked her questions about the area. After coffee, we shoveled snow out of her drive-way so she could head down into town, for what might be the last time before May. “My house is your house,” she told us as she drove away. Just like that we had three cabins and a lot of property to explore.
We wandered through the other cabins, all available for rent in the summer, but abandoned in the winter time. Besides the appliances, the little cabins looked like they hadn’t changed in years. Old jackets hung by the doors, posters from the 80’s. and artwork from Julie’s friends, who have stayed in year’s past, hung on the walls. Remains of the old Geneva Basin ski lodge, said to have burned down, sit near Duck Lake. According to Julie, the lake has some decent sized trout.
If it were up to Julie the pass would stay open in the winter, and folks would come stay in the cabins and get use out of the old resort. Reluctantly, she sees herself selling the property in the next few years and moving into town. Her ideal buyer would be an organization like the Colorado Mountain Club.
After exploring the little cabins we grabbed our skis and followed an old chair lift line up the mountain. Snow was deep, until we hit treeline. The warm week had melted the new snow away. Our plans to ski the old resort were foiled. Luckily, we had also brought camera gear to film a gear review. After the review we skied a couple great turns back to her cabin. We will be back to explore the skiing this winter. From what I’ve seen online, Geneva Basin is home of some fantastic backcountry skiing without the crowds.
Less than a week after our visit with Julie, Guanella Pass will close for the winter. Julie doesn’t seem to mind, she’s been living there since the 60’s. Her dogs keep her company, a warm old stove heats her place up nicely, and she has plenty of books and hobbies. Best of all, beautiful views right outside.