Friday, at 12:45, officially marked the start of my winter break: a respite from syllabus deadlines and no where in particular to be at 8:15 in the morning. Delightful.
By 2:00 Friday we were on the flanks of Sandia, alpine touring. Lane was on his split board, I on my randonne skis. The powder was about 2 feet deep and we blazed a trail up to some cat tracks. After we passed the jump-building, whooping sledders and snowboarders it was fairly serene. Two hours of huffing and puffing, with the moon rising and light fading, we were rewarded with a smooth trip down to our car, surfing the powder and laying fresh tracks all the way.
Saturday we tried to make it back to Sandia, but to no avail--the road was impassable and even a snow plow was stuck. (At least this is the version the sheriff shared with us.) After scouting out a few other spots which proved unskiable, we decided to head home and pack up the car for an adventure. Five hours later we were in Pagosa Springs, Colorado soaking in a natural mineral pool. Wolf Creek Ski Area is just 23 miles from Pagosa Springs and has some of the best powder skiing we had ever experienced. Sunday would be no different.
Up at 4:30, we fixed a nice cup of tea and began the slow, snowy ascent to Wolf Creek pass. The pass would be closed from 6:30-8 for avalanche control and we didn't want anything to come between us and the fresh powder. Pulling into the parking lot around 6 am, there were just a few crazies like us and the resort staff. It was still snowing. By the time the lifts started at 8:30, our car already had a few inches of fresh snow. We couldn't wait to hit the slopes because even the groomed trails would have plenty of powder. In the trees it was thigh-high and light, my fat skis and Lane's powder board floating on the surface, the first evidence that people had been there.
Our legs burned from working our way down the mountain yet, when the upper part of the mountain opened that is accessible only by hiking, we were game. Our last run of the day involved a brief, but steep, post-holing hike to waist-deep powder. I have never experienced anything like it. Exhausted and elated we cruised back to the lodge, to our waiting Subaru and Pagosa Springs for tacos and a soak in the pool.
We could barely move the next morning, which was a great excuse to get back in the hot spring and spend the morning in the local bakery, eating cinnamon rolls and pumpkin muffins. No matter how many times we tried to get riled up about heading back to Wolf Creek, our bodies protested loudly so we pointed the Subaru south and cruised into the North Valley where the snow had melted and the temperature was unseasonably warm.
Since we left, Wolf Creek has had almost 3 feet of snow and it's still falling. I'm seeing another Colorado adventure in our future....
Thanks Winter Break.