Groundhog day, when our fate is cast for the possible beginning of Spring, is just around the corner, and it feels like the winter has only just begun. It would seem that the Snow-making machinery has been shut down for a bit, with no significant snowfall in recent weeks, nor in the near future forecast.
Trails are generally packed narrowly, with firmly packed snow still creeping further and further from the trail heads. Warm days spell softer and potentially less supportive packed surfaces, not that one should notice on skis nor snowshoes, but hikers and bikers may sink during the warmth of the days, which are projected to be in the 30’s for the next week. The powder is likely to gain density and age into older, more rounded crystalline grains, but the good news is that so far, there is still plenty of soft or creamy powder. While trails will be firm in morning and evening, remaining soft in the mid-day, off-track slopes may reveal more and more of their aspect with conditions dependent on cumulative exposure to the sun’s rays and the wind’s breath. Days are getting longer, but the sun is still relatively low in the southern sky. Dry spells such as these generally make for conditions that favor longer forays into the wild, with over-the-snow travel expedited by a fast, packed trail, or dense, supportive snowpack. Now would be the time to consider an adventure to those slightly more distant special destinations. For those with a well-stocked quiver, metal edges will help keep things under control as the conditions fluctuate from damp to icy or in the cool of the mornings.