45° and clear this morning. Back up to the local ski mountain today for a nice hike and some silky turns. It's a funny phenomenon, but by heading up high on a regular basis I feel like I'm experiencing more of spring this year. See, we didn't really have spring this year – it was more like winter going straight to summer – but up high, it's happening. The snow is slowly, but definitely melting off. The little flowers are beginning to bloom up there. The creeks are rising. I don't manage to go every single day but I do go often enough that the subtle changes each day are evident. Change: that word defines spring for me. Everyday the trees get a little greener, the snowfields a little smaller.
I do a lot of thinking on spring skis where I start off with the skis on my back and a pair of light hikers on my feet. Something about walking energizes the brain in ways cycling or even just straight skinning don't. While obviously December-March are the peak seasons for actually making turns, it's right now when the mind is most active regarding this activity. I have all sorts of projects and ideas bouncing around. Some are very personal goals for the 2011-2012 season itself – things I'd like to improve on, places I'd like to go, projects I'd like to complete to enhance this sport in an artistic manner.
It's not really too early at all. For example, if you plan to make a ski film next year and want to have a seasonal transition time lapse camera somewhere, well, you'd better get it up soon. If you're planning on making skis, this would be the perfect time to get that press done and dab with some general design ideas and work out the kinks in the system. And with general fitness – well, we're a couple weeks away from the mandatory four days in the weight room to build power and strength for work down the line. It's funny, because while June 13 seems incredibly far from the next ski season, if you are actually looking to make something cool next year, this is the time to prepare. By the time October rolls around, it's almost too late – by the time it's December, it really is.
It's been so much fun really diving into backcountry skiing these past six or seven years. To completely embrace a sport that was really my passion growing up, but thanks to modern technology (bindings, lighter skis, boots, etc) have it become the perfect activity for me. Downhill skiing is fun enough, but I love the workout from nordic. But then, I like getting up into the high peaks and nordic gear isn't that well suited to that. Mountain biking is great, but I like snow over dirt, cold over heat, and I have no qualms that backcountry skiing tends to shorten my mountain biking season a lot from half-a-decade ago. Having an amazing wife who is a damned good skier with a new stoke for the sport only inspires me more.
Off season? Well, I suppose in that we're not skiing a foot of powder before breakfast, yeah. But in the head, in the dreams, in the plans for the future, it feels more on than ever.
P.S. – as an aside, I learned today that the mountain profile that I have looked at from Nederland everyday otherwise known as the "pregnant lady" is not Mount Audobon (the belly) Mount Toll and Shoshone, but indead are Kiowa and Albion (two peaks, not one that make up the belly), Navajo and Arikaree. These mountains are in the city of Boulder watershed and are not accessible to the public. It's funny, because I see these peaks literally everyday and obviously have a major passion for the mountains and exploration. Just goes to show you adventure and the unknown can be found very close to home.
Spring skiing doesn't need to be an all day affair, nor does it require ridiculous start times. I can get a couple laps on Bald in and be at the top 50 minutes after leaving my home, waking up at 6:30 am or so, and getting to work with ease. That even allows some quality time enjoying tea and the bird feeders with my wife.
Altitude dictates the seasons here. Three months ago, these were budding at 7,000 feet. Today, they've reached 10,000. As a skier, you experience spring for six months or so, chasing the snow as it creeps higher and higher.