Winter is showing signs of life, with snow coverage finally building up towards more seasonal depths. The valley floors at last have a decent winter coat for fun skinny ski sliding, and while sunny temperatures have threatened to crust that coat over, the cold nights have lingered long enough through the mornings for the surface to remain the soft, sweet velvety powder that is such a delight to slice. Packed trails have received enough fresh fluff to keep the glide smooth, but not so much as to make trail-breaking on them a chore. Step off the packed trail, however, and a much different story becomes apparent. The slowly building snowpack has seen wide fluctuations in temperature, and has become a hollow shell without a firm supportive base. Skinny skis and snowshoes sink deeply when attempting to go off the beaten path where no one has gone before them. Pole baskets meet little resistance as they plunge into the depths, often finding the ground or a rock that had retained some of the autumn warmth. Skis with large surface area can find enough support to float over meadows and glades, but don’t expect a great deal of protection from the snow when you step or slide on that mound that looks like it might be hiding a rock.
Conditions are likely to remain stable, as the forecast is for mostly fair weather with the possibility of a disturbance in the Northwest swinging low enough to bring us some new precipitation Thursday or Friday.