So, the title of this post may be a tad misleading. Going to a ski resort is not exactly communing with Nature. We drove there, rode a chairlift (albeit wind powered) and skied down on fiberglass boards strapped to our feet. John Muir and Thoreau would not be impressed.
Being up in Pagosa Springs/Wolf Creek, however, is stunning. The views from the top of the mountain were spectacular: the sky was wide and blue and snow-capped peaks stretched all the way to the horizon. I could almost understand people who risk their lives to mountaineer. I don't have any photographic evidence of this landscape because the camera was left in the car. It's pretty hard to operate when your fingers are frozen and/or in gore-tex mittens.
Despite the chairlift and madness at the base, the fresh snow and glimpses of green peeking out from the snow-laden conifers were refreshing. We usually ride the side of the mountain that is devoid of people. The terrain can be steep and the snow deep, but the serenity is well worth it. As we carved in and out of the trees and over squirrel tracks I realized we were in nature. There were times where we thought we might have even been outside of the ski boundary, it was that quiet.
Unlike last time we were up there, we didn't stay in a hotel. Sure there were lots of options--the spot we called home last weekend or the green-built, hot-springs heated, wind-powered fancy hotel. No, we communed with nature a bit more--from the inside of our station wagon. With poorly cut curtains and our camping pads stuffed in the back, we snuggled under our down comforter while also wearing fleece pants, down jackets and beanies. I wasn't cold during the night, but the frost on the inside of the car indicated how cold it was outside. Luckily Pagosa Springs had decent coffee and a great bakery to warm us up after we broke down "camp."
The drive home was through fields of sage and cholla cactus with incredible rock formations as a backdrop. Although observed from a speeding car, the beauty of northern New Mexico was not lost on us. There's talk of heading back up there again next weekend, depending on the next storm system to come through. You can bet we'll be glad to be back in nature and this time I'll take the camera.