You can find amazing food in some amazing places, but have you ever had to hike for your food?
To live in Colorado is an adventure in itself, but over the years, we’ve come to discover all the amazing opportunities that really set it apart from everywhere else. I suppose one could find these adventures anywhere in the world, but in the mountains of Colorado, unique opportunities seem to be the norm.
A perfect example is the Moonlight Dinner Series at Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort.
Several years back, A-Basin…aka, The Legend, thought it would be cool to host a dinner at their mid-mountain restaurant, the Black Mountain Lodge. And not just any dinner, a four-course dining experience highlighting culinary creations from all over the world. It sounds like the kind of thing you’d get dressed up for, slipping into your most uncomfortable shoes, right?
What if I told you you had to strap on a pair of skis or snowshoes and hike up a mountain to enjoy it?
Yes, that’s right. Part of this amazing evening includes hiking from the base to mid-mountain for your dinner. Granted, this may not be appealing to everyone. But for some, the hike is part of the appeal and what prompts many of us to get up early once a month, ready to jump online in hopes of scoring tickets for this soirée, priced at $95 per person, which sells out within the first 30 minutes. It’s like buying concert tickets to see your favorite band!
The dining experience itself is amazing, but it’s the journey up with friends that creates the most memorable moments of the evening. We gather at the base to prepare for the hike, making final adjustments to our equipment and taking the first selfies of the night. And then we climb.
Luckily, the monthly dinners are scheduled around the full moon, so even though we’ve come equipped with headlamps to light our way, we rarely need them as the moon offers the perfect spotlight for the way up.
We’re not far into our climb before we’re reminded that hiking up a mountain for dinner isn’t just another ordinary night, so we use the beauty of the moon and starlit skies as an excuse to stop often for more pictures and to catch our breath.
Once at the top, the feeling of accomplishment is quickly coupled with the welcoming face of a staffer, ready to welcome us into the warm lodge with a signature cocktail. I don’t know if you’ve ever attempted taking off ski boots with one hand while holding a champagne flute in another, but it’s a little tricky, not to mention entertaining.
Finally, drink in hand and hut slippers on, we make our way to our reserved table and prepare ourselves to be pampered for the next few hours. The lodge is alive with music and festive lighting, creating an environment rich with fun, laughter and conversations between friends, both old and new.
And then it begins! The air is suddenly filled with mouth-watering aromas, reminding our stomachs of our climb and our need of nourishment, as well as something to counteract the wine we’ve started consuming.
One by one, tables are released to line up for the first course…then the second…and finally the third. But it doesn’t stop there. Just as we begin to unbutton our ski pants for some extra breathing room, desserts begin appearing at the tables, and there seems to be no choice in the matter, so we take a deep breath and dig in.
Finally, the evening winds down and we make our way back to our gear to begin the dreaded task of sliding off our slippers and into our boots, preparing for the ski back down the mountain…the last big adventure of the night. Although not quite as strenuous as the hike up, the decent offers it’s own challenges. With stomachs full of wine and food, an easy ski to the bottom turns into an adventure full of mishaps, giving us plenty more reasons to stop, laugh and grab another selfie or two.
A moonlight hike up a mountainside for food, regardless of how good it is, isn’t for everyone, so I shouldn’t fail to mention that most of these dinners offer lift service as well. Yes, you can hop on the chairlift and ride to the top for dinner, which makes this an experience than anyone can enjoy. But if you’re the slightest bit adventurous and able-bodied, I’d recommend strapping on those skis and snowshoes! The food and drink is guaranteed to taste that much better when you make it to the top!