Whether you wish to thank the Norse God of Winter Ullr, Mother Earth, Father Christmas, the Lord above, or whomever your Grace may be, the Colorado headwaters received the gift of fresh powder from Heaven, just in time for the Christmas Holiday. Several snowstorms including a raging blizzard left our valley blanketed in a cleansing coat of white. Pesky rocks and babbling rivulets are now buried well beneath the tread we travel on. Thanks to a week of cool nights and not-too-warm days, the snow surface below tree-line remains fluffy and full. Sampling of the snow off-track shows depths of up to 40″ in places, especially with slight elevation above the valley floor.
The quality of the snowpack, however, leaves a little to be desired. Packed trails are skiing nicely, but step off the trail, or venture further than any preceding enthusiasts and you might find yourself falling into a trap-door of failing support and a quagmire of quick-sand-like white granules. Whoomphing, the sound of large regions of snow settling onto deeper layers, and a strong indicator of snowpack instability, is also common. This is not a good time to be on or to traverse across or below suspect slopes. (is there ever a good time for that?). Creeks have prevailingly frozen over, providing tempting routes through a forest that is getting increasingly tangled with deadfallen trees. The weakness of the snowpack results in a significant threat of collapse, along with the potential for finding oneself standing in a creek with walls of snow on all sides. Not Fun!
Current projections do not show precipitation for the coming week, but we do potentially see temperatures warming to above freezing on a regular basis, so the durability of soft powder may be in question. Let’s hope for more settling conditions in 2018!
Happy New Year!!