The snow gods have been kind to us, though it was beginning to feel like we’d forgotten what a sunny day was like. Slowly and steadily, the snow has been sifting down upon us, adding gradually to the depth of our snowpack. The last Saturday of the month, however, added a bit of a tempest to the mix, sending swirling snow showers sideways across our open fields. The sagebrush is now just poking up in Tabernash, and has grown tails that tell of the wind direction, and where you might expect to find the deeper powder, or conversely, in the other direction, a ridge scoured thin by the direct force of the moving air.
Trails are now buried in many places, with evidence of their existence occasionally cloaked completely in a deep blanket of powder. In some areas evidence of previous passers-by remain, while in others, you must proceed by braille, hoping not to fall deeply off the previously packed base into the quagmire of sugary granules. The off-track is offering little substance with which to support a traveler, or to protect ski bases and edges from meeting granite. Rocks and stumps are getting sufficiently disguised by layers of snowfall, occasionally put down with gentle winds, so that they are not as easy to find, as they would be under other conditions. Even at the touring centers, Nordic skiers have been seen attempting to strike out on a short cut, only to find that they are helplessly trapped in a sea of sugar, floundering for many minutes and exhausting themselves in an attempt to climb their way out of their predicament.
Popular trails are back to narrower versions of themselves and will remain so until enough people get out and pack them wide again. Trail breaking difficulty on trails that get a fair bit of usage varies depending on when trail users had last been on the trail over this previous lengthy period of accumulation. Some trails have a nice 2” layer on top of a firm base, while others are above the boot-tops. Powder remains the predominant surface, but now that the sun is back there is occasional small sun crust formation on snow surfaces that are more perpendicular to the sun’s path. We seem to have escaped the typical January thaw, with temperature remaining primarily cooler. No new snow is in sight until possibly the weekend, with several days of sun expected. This will help expand the options for users of packed trails as more people will be packing trails without having their tracks filled in after their passing.
Speaking of packed trail users, the Middle Park Nordic team should be congratulated for their impressive showing at last weekend’s Home Race. Under blustery conditions, many of these athletes had personal bests – not an easy feat when conditions are challenging. Also, Thanks to all the volunteers and coaches and parents who helped make this event a successful one. It is a great example of how our community can come together to support one another.