In stark contrast to this past summer’s heat, snow-lovers have been enjoying some nice crisp temperatures to preserve the snowfall from earlier this month. Mid November has proven to be dryer than previous weeks, making for some fast and variable conditions. Shaded areas may remain soft, though the powder has aged into a more granular and less cotton-like consistency, except for the 1-3 inches left superficially by this past weekend’s paltry offering. Open areas have variable density of crust, with some of the freeze-thaw pattern providing enough strength to support skiers on the surface. Creeks remain open, babbling peacefully before freezing over for the winter and becoming muffled by a deep lofty snowpack.
Trails will likely see high traffic this holiday week, keeping conditions fast on popular havens. Expect to still find early season rocks or bare spots, as snowpack is still thin and even though temperatures have been cold, the sun’s strength still magnifies dark objects and sublimation allows the tips to rise above the surface level.
Seasonally closed Winter Roads remain open at this early date, providing hunters and Christmas-tree-harvesters access, so tire tracks may pack the snow into a fast-gliding surface, or make less desirable ski-trapping ruts. If you are lucky, you might find tracks off to the side, left by previous skiers. Be cautious of oncoming traffic however, as the packed snow is very slippery, even for 4-wheel drive vehicles, and evidence of ditch-mishaps is not uncommon.
Grooming the miles of Forest Service and Water Board roads for snowmobiling has not yet begun. Grand Park and the Fraser River trail, likewise do not quite have enough coverage for machine grooming. Wider metal-edged skis and ankle supporting boots will be a good choice from the quiver until more consistent conditions prevail.
Until then, Happy Trails and Happy Thanksgiving!