There is something about hiking on a snowy trail that suits me well. But not just a snowy trail. Toss in a bit of wind, around rocks and bushes and stumps and other such obstacles. And an Aspen grove – that's simply a necessity. A good hiking trail features a stout climb right off the bat, a winding forest landscape to get lost in an elvish world, some rock features to scramble over, and then a nice downhill run where you can either lose yourself in your own thoughts or, if you are with a friend, chat and laugh the day away.

Such are the trails at the local state park to the south. I don't venture down to this area enough, and that's a mistake, cause it's simply a gem. It's also a nice diversion for when the skin tracks get mundane and the snow crappy. Hiking is the essence. Even when I'm old and decrepid, I'll hike. I may not bike, I may not ski 13,000 foot peaks, but I'll be damned sure to hiking. Hiking is discovery, for you slow down and see new things. Discovery can take on many different forms – be it a place, or a person, or your own self.

Three separate hikes at this park on the exact same loop – Black Bear up, Horseshoe down – and three totally different experiences. Two weeks ago, with a close friend, where I discoved that walking in the woods is still the best and most simple way to forge human bonds. Alas, if all human communication were done in the woods, and not over computers, the world would be a better, happier place. That was a magical day, standing on summits and in the midst of aspen groves, talking about everything under the sun and laughing till the bellies hurt.

Yesterday, a different experience. My mind is heavy. It's a good heavy, one based on passion, but it's contemplative. I will be, for some time to come, going into a bit of the "self" state. Taking care of business, getting myself all set and good. But I was thinking about the past on this day, but also about magic. A magic past if you will. I listened to the headphones the whole time – Stars – and this only fueled the memories. Good. I wanted to be in this place.

I came back today. The park costs money – $6 to be exact – but upon reading the fine print I found that you can show up before noon the next day and it's still covered. So I did. More of a physical effort today. Pushing it a bit. Thinking about this summer. My job is such that I need to be fit, and there is no better way to do it than to hike up hills. It was me and my companion today, Stella the wonder dog. We blasted through the trail, gazed at the divide from the high points, and smiled.

One other hike to mention. Last night, under the full moon, basking. Pure bliss, some sadness, but way more bliss than sadness.

Walking is a good thing.

Lone skin track

Not to sound cocky, but it's rare that I don't catch people skinning in front of me. I figured when I arrived at the 'bou this morning, and saw an old beat up hatchback, that I'd make quick work of the fool and get first tracks. But alas, no. I skinned along at a nice consistent pace, with Stella in tow, through the chilled cold and sparkling landscape, but never caught the mystery skier in front of me. Followed the track – along with one coyote track – past the mine, up the first part and then saw that the skier diverged to the south. I figured they were taking the easier track up, but when I reached prayer flag hill, I saw something impressive. A lone skin track, an aesthetic route,winding up over timberline to the south, and then perfect S-turns down an untracked mini-bowl on the side of the mountain. It was a beautiful sight to behold, artwork on the mountain if you will, and I felt a little clumsy with my own mundane effort to the usual spot. The skiing was fine – blissful in fact – but I got the feeling that there was something unique to that skin track to the south. And that the person who laid it down was indeed a unique individual.

Reading up on the blogs tonight, I found this more true than I knew. Or maybe I did know it subconciously, and that's why I didn't opt to follow. Some wounds heal slowly, and some may never heal, but it was good to be on the same mountain side with a person who at one point in time was probably my best friend.

Checking In

Sitting in the cafe, just watched team USA defeat Canada. I don't have TV at home, so to catch any of these Olympics, I have to go someplace. Although a good friend is TiVo'ing the whole thing, and we'll watch it when it's done.

One of the better ski days…well, ever. We're finally getting snow. Last night it was puking snow in Boulder, and going at it even harder in Nederland. The road up to prayer flag mountain was sketch as hell today, but once there, the laps were delectable. Deep, soft, the stuff we live for. The skin track is ridiculous – it's a vertical wall – but it does make for a hella good, quick workout.

Trying to get into a pattern. Just getting up early every day and skinning and skiing. Been a little lazy in February. It's all good, as priorities have been different, but I have good motivation to be focused in March and April. I figure March is a good ski month, and April – shocker oh shocker – I'm thinking the Moots will be busted out and we'll do some long climbs uphill. Sometime in there a backpacking trip to the canyon country. All of which will of course set up May well, which is one of my favorite ski months of the entire year.

I want to work a bunch in March and April and earn and save some money. Oh, and build a tree house. And then, in May, hardly work at all so I can ski and enjoy other good things that this month will bring.

Not much else to say, and nothing profound. Hope the world is good wherever you may be.

Summer Dreams

I'm dreaming of simple days, living out of a backpack for a month, roaming the mountains with my nomadic tribe. And personal trips, solo or with a close friend or two, where we lighten the load and explore the next ridgeline, the next valley – places of magic. And one day of skiing each month, for the novelty of it, and for the experiences it brings. And then, riding my bike again, exploring the new paths that the elves have carved, and helping enhance that new system. And finally, repaying a debt from years ago, pacing my friend King Nimby through the realm of the Vapor Trail 125, completing the circle.

It's mid-winter, but summer dreams are brewing.

My thoughts on short track speed skating

Ah, another Winter
Olympics and another chance for NBC to not-so-subtly use short track
speed skating and racism to boost network ratings. We all love Apollo
Ohno, but would we admit we like the fact that he is beating somebody
from Korea and China even better? And would we like it so much if he
was, say, beating somebody from England? Bode Miller is right – the
Olympics divide more than they bring together.

Feeling good, but not feeling like writing

An interesting sore throat has been bothering me the past few days – it's only on the right side of the throat – so I've been laying low, working on the ranch and walking around Mud Lake. That suits me just fine. Life just sometimes works out and I'm quite content to enjoy the moment. It's a personal time to be happy, and it has nothing to do with blogging and shouting accomplishments to the world.

Some nice skis up at the tunnel this weekend. Great snow, fun exploration with a friend and the pup. Here are a few sunset shots to hold our avid readers over. Cheers!