Wind and Powder

We’ve had a few tired days…Thursday and Friday we managed a few hours up at Eldora each day, but nothing too exciting. (Hey, it’s Eldora, with about three runs open. But we did check out Bunny Fair Bowl – sick, dog!) Saturday we were a little overly ambitious hoping to go for a skin after work – where we had the busiest day of the season with 5 people working the floor. Needless to say, by the time we got home, we just wanted some food and bed.

Today the bug hit us seriously. Not the flu-bug, but the I-need-to-go-skinning! bug. A couple nights before we had sat down to do some serious planning for a big ski trip we have coming up, and I think it instilled a deep desire to skin in us. So, a few chores done and out of the way, we headed up to Moffat Tunnel. Reading trusty NOAA, we brought our warm stuff – high of 15°, steady winds of 30 mph, gusts of 50, wind chill -14°, and blowing snow. Moffat Tunnel is clearly the most pleasant trailhead around.

As always when we head up to the Moffat area, it took about 5 minutes of psyching ourselves up to just get out of the car. But, RAB Neoshell jackets on, hoods up, and our warmest gloves adorning our hands, we braved the sideways snow.

I must say that normally Mother Nature gives us a bit more time to get our bodies adjusted to winter weather. Through September, October, and November, the temperature steadily drops and our bodies are given a slow break-in to cold weather. This year has been an anomaly, and thus we – as many others, I am sure – have had more than the normal amount of freezing happening. Even when skinning as fast as you can up hill just to keep warm. It’s not colder than normal – not by a long shot, but my body for certain just isn’t accustomed to the colder temperatures yet.

Heads bowed against the howling winds, wrapped up in our own little personal climate system with the Neoshell, we headed up the hill. Lots of friendly people were coming down as we headed up – we’ve been a bit on the later end of the day when we go out lately. Everybody was quite friendly, but really, it was a poke your head out of your hood to say hello, and then pull it turtle-like back in kind of day. Around the turn-off for the Forest Lakes, we stopped seeing people, and kept straight – our goal for the day was to get up to Heart Lake.

The going was pretty quick – a benefit of not being first out is that you’re not breaking trail, but after a while, everybody must have turned around, because we were soon breaking trail in a complete white out.

The joy of not breaking trail!

Why hello there! And I must say, with every other shell I've owned, I've never made it through a whole skin with it on. The RAB Neoshell does over heat a bit, and then it magically balances out, and everything is aweosme.

We’ve only been up to Heart Lake once in the winter, and it’s amazing how different things look when they are covered in snow – plus with the blowing winds and dumping snow, it was a little difficult to see much in front of us besides the tree we were trying not to skin directly into.

We were feeling pretty excited, because, even though the lower part of the trail was pretty rocky, the part we were on now felt like it had an amazing base (I hadn’t hit a rock in a while!), and there was a good two feet of powder on top of it. Our gung-ho attitude got us all the way to what we could tell through the howling white out was a basin, but besides that, we couldn’t tell much else. I’m guessing we were very close, if not on top of Roger’s Pass Lake, but definitely not at Heart Lake, as the little rise you hump yourself over at the end is very distinctive.

By the time we were there, even skinning, my finger tips were feeling a bit numb, and the light was fading. So, after a thirty second consultation over the blowing wind, we ripped our skins and headed down.

The top part was simply delectable – hands down the best skiing of my season. Poor Stella was seriously post holing, so we had to keep waiting for her, but she sticks with us the whole way up, so we don’t mind!

Poor Stella getting stuck in the powder!

Then we joined where everybody else had left off, and things sped up, as Stella is quite fond of the typical luge chute you find leading out of most backcountry places in the area.

On the way out, both of our hands suddenly began to prickle with pain, and we would answer each other with short, one word answers and we skied with out hands down our pants in an attempt to simultaneously warm them up and get out before dark settled in.

Get your hands out of your pants, I'm taking a picture!

We reached the trail head with little time to go before dark, turned the heater on full blast and took off our boots with numb hands. All around the wind buffeted the car, snow came down sideways, and darkness moved in, but we were encased in a tiny bubble of almost warmth – well, at least it was not windy.

Back home, with some home-made Bolognese sauce on the stove, a yoga DVD for later, a roaring fire going, hot tea, and a hot shower. Life is good. It doesn’t get much better than this!


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