Spring is here and the daily sojourn into temperate temperatures means that one’s experience on and off the trails this time of year will be widely variable, depending on many factors from time of day to daily weather variations. With last week’s rains saturating the snowpack, and night temperatures dropping into the teens, the crust-skiing season has arrived with a fantastic start. As long as snow accumulations remain light and daybreak temperatures fall below freezing, one can expect to be able to skim over the surface of the snow-covered landscape with unencumbered freedom for several morning hours. Crust conditions have been smooth and satiny, unaffected at this point by spring blizzards.
As the sun works its way further northward up the divide with each passing day, its snow-melting intensity grows to a more powerful radiation, suitable for basking. When unobscured, the sun’s rays will soften the crust quickly, sending us back to the packed trails by mid-day where we will be less likely to punch through into the depths of the snowpack.
Winter’s blanket has been retreating up-valley at what seems to be an early recession, bolstered by the bare ground of south-facing slopes, which have been covered only ephemerally all winter. All of this could change at anytime if any of the passing storms hit us more directly and remind us that winter is not entirely done with us yet, as we have learned through years of weathering spring dumps. Any new snows at this time of year however are short lived, succumbing rapidly to the advance of rising temperatures.