Day 95: Meadow Monday

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Wanted to get one last big day in before the Power of Four on Saturday. Headed up to Meadow, and decided to top out for the first time ever.

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Nice up there, if not a bit breezy.

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Took some laps and enjoyed some surprising powder!

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Great way to spend a Monday, and we even got chores done in the afternoon – take that car registration people! Carpe diem.

Finally, been teaching Elaine to skate ski. Here she is yesterday…her 4th day ever skate skiing. Girl’s a natural.

Day 88: Change in plans

We had planned to leave this morning on a ski up-and-over the Continental Divide to Winter Park and back. Had we looked at the weather a year in advance, and picked the absolute worst two days of the year to go, this might have been it:

Today: A chance of snow before 11am, then snow likely and areas of blowing snow after 11am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 19. Wind chill values as low as -16. Very windy, with a west northwest wind 30 to 33 mph increasing to between 46 and 49 mph. Winds could gust as high as 80 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. Total daytime snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

Tonight: Snow likely and areas of blowing snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 11. Wind chill values as low as -16. Strong and damaging winds, with a west northwest wind between 45 and 55 mph, with gusts as high as 90 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

Wednesday: Snow likely and areas of blowing snow before 11am, then areas of blowing snow and a chance of snow after 11am. Cloudy, with a high near 25. Wind chill values as low as -15. Strong and damaging winds, with a west northwest wind between 50 and 60 mph, with gusts as high as 90 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.

We're postponing the trip. It would probably be possible if nothing went wrong, but if something did go wrong, conditions like these could make it go tragic in a big hurry. Right now, the fire crackling in the wood burning stove suits me fine while determining a different adventure for the day.

Day 84: Above the clouds

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It was another great day in the hills. One of my favorite things to do is top out on a mountain on one of the inversion days, where the clouds are lingering in the valleys, and feel like you are above everything. Today was one such day. We made a bit of a wrong turn and had to bushwhack through forest for some time to get to the desired destination, but when we did, it didn't dissapoint. First tracks and perfect deep powder.

This winter is turning into my best yet. Elaine is strong now, and since we signed up for the Elk Mountain Traverse, our motivation to get out is high. And now, the storm systems have lined up, dropping perfect snow on the mountains. It is mid-season, and it is exceptional. It's difficult to go anywhere and not find nice powder to ski.

We will not be in this area forever, as there are bigger mountains and last frontiers to explore, as well as our own lives and family to carve out. But for now, and the near future, these hills surrounding the little hamlet of Nederland, Colorado are perfect.

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Day 83: Valentine’s Day

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February is Elaine and my favorite month, and Valentine's Day is actually one of our favorite days of the year. It just seems like good things happen to us this month. Last year was sort of a funny one, as our picture got plastered all over the internet for our wedding celebration at Loveland Ski Area. Today was much more personal, but probably more significant.

We headed up to Meadow Mountain, a place where, five years ago, we'd go skiing a lot when Elaine was sick. Back then I figured the best therapy I knew of was the mountains and skiing, so we'd go up there and ski all day. She was a trooper, and did those skins with BCA Trackers and alpine boots. And while our gear today is a lot nicer, the spirit is the same.

Today was exactly like those days. Perfect snow, wind and a raging snow storm. It was good to be back…our first time back here since February 2008. The big difference now though is Elaine is completely healthy, proving once again the power of the mountains, skiing and a loving environment. And of course Stella came along. It was an amazing day, and it's cool how we were able to recognize little nooks in the woods that were significant to us five years earlier.

It was our best Valentine's Day yet. We capped it off with our favorite meal at Kathmandu. What can I say…I'm a very lucky guy. Hope everybody out there had a wonderful day as well.

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An appropriately named road.

P1070008Love the way this skin track fades off in the distance. 2,000 feet of climbing to get to this place.

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That's a happy powder smile if I've ever seen one.

P1070054Snowstorm raged all day long.

P1070056Elaine heads up and into the tempest.

P1070058Stella, who completes our family and helps ease the pain for both Elaine and I of losing our former pets. She really is a terrific dog.

P1070076Elaine enjoys the powder as her braids go flying.

P1070130The skiing was delectable.

P1070147After 3,300 vertical feet of breaking trail, we decided to call it a day.

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Dumping snow as we headed out. There or somewhere, we'll be back at it tomorrow.

AliveThis photo is actually five years old, from February 2008 at the same location as our ski today. It just kind of proves the beauty of mountains and skiing – she was going through hell at this time, but that smile showed me that it wouldn't last forever. I guess, when it comes down to it, skiing is a lot more personal and meaningful than just making turns. It has, a various times, been a life source.

Day 77: Into the Wild

A solid 3,000 foot day. One run up to the divide and back. Elaine and I don't really like laps – we're more into one big climb and big descent. Almost gave Radiobeacon a shot, but winter conditions can be dicey up there. Still, more adventure becons.

Tomorrow, a different kind of day. February 9 is my anniversary when Elaine and I first started dating. Two year anniversary. You only have a two year anniversary once, so we're going a slightly different route than today. Still sliding, but a little more cushy. It's going to be an awesome day with an amazing wife.

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Day 76: Ski Width Musings

Since we’re doing the Elk Mountain Traverse this year, Elaine needed a narrower ski that is more appropriate to the alpine yet cross country nature of the course. Thanks to a generous sales promotion, she was able to get a beautiful pair of Ski Trab Free Rando Lights. They are much narrower than any other ski she owns – 80 mm in the mid versus her next smallest which is 110 mm. Elaine is a good skier, and it was interesting discussing impressions of how they ski.

One thing I have noticed about modern wide skis is how easy they make skiing, yet how they don’t provide some of the same sensation I had skiing when I was a kid on much narrower skis. It seems like they do an outstanding job plowing and floating over stuff, but often it doesn’t feel that much like skiing anymore. Elaine shared this sentiment, commenting how the Trabs “actually made her ski well,” because you actually had to ski them.

To me, rockered wide skis are very much like a full-suspension bike, whereas narrower non-rockered skis are more akin to a rigid singlespeed. I’m honestly not sure I like skis much over 100 mm in the mid, and I’m beginning to think I like something much narrower. Narrower skis make powder deeper, but more than that they are quicker and more versatile. To me, something in the 88-92 range might be perfect.

The Trabs are wonderful. Climbing on them is effortless, and they make you want to get out there and explore. And of course an added bonus is that they ski well. Today was an ease-back-into it day after a busy time at work. Tomorrow, it’s time to step it up and go big…on little skis.