Wow! What a start to the season! Several autumnal storms have lined up in relatively quick succession to drop-kick October into winter. This abrupt transition has left us with 7 inches of white, with more falling on the trail as of this writing. Relatively warm temperatures after the chilling blast of Sunday’s storm have left the snow dense and supportive. Cover remains shallow under heavy branches and in wind-exposed areas. Ski pole tips may crunch occasionally if your trail runs on gravel, as the base is not consistently deep. Rock skis would be recommended, as is to be expected this time of year, though as long as it stays cold, the coverage should remain quite good. Only the bigger rocks need be avoided as there is sufficient snow to allow a slightly broader ski to float over the moderately sized rocks. Look for suspicious mounds, like pimples in the snow surface. Sometimes they are little pine trees, but they can just as easily conceal a piece of granite that should be avoided, lest your skis suffer the blow of a sharp granular grind. Should you identify such a land mine in the trail, there are 2 approaches to making this rock less of a hazard for your way back, assuming its not a loose rock. Either method makes the trail a more welcoming place. The first is to bury and pack snow around the rock so that skis are buffered away from danger as they pass over. The second, less intuitive method is to expose the rock for what it is, brushing enough snow away so that it can be seen and readily avoided. After this has been done a couple of times, following a couple of snowfalls the surrounding snowpack usually rises around the rock, shrinking and eventually burying it.
Creeks along the trail are wide open and flowing strong, providing a gurgling backdrop to the wintry scene. Weather projections suggest a couple of sunny days towards the end of this week with temperatures remaining chilly, followed by potential for more snow towards the beginning of the last week of October. Local lore has it that you can expect snow on Halloween, disappointing all the moms and dads who must wrap their kid’s costumes under heavy winter jackets. Anything can happen as far as the weather goes but old man winter sure seems to be starting off on the right foot!