Well, as all know, bugs are incredibly easy to catch. No matter the nature of the bug, you must be wary of them, for if given the chance, they will infect you.
The bug has got us. It was back to work for one day, and, even though we are exhausted by the time we get home (we crossed Boulder three times in twenty minutes!), the very first thing we do is get the ski gear ready. It is easier than last time – I know where all my stuff is, for one thing, and what I need, for another. It’s a quick dinner and to bed – we’re to be up early in the morrow, and up to St. Vrain Mt.
After our experience with Pawnee, we decided that the snow has not *yet* consolidated, and so we shall ski something uber mellow. Besides, neither of us has been to St. Vrain before, so why not?
You can have incredible stoke in the evening, and that stoke just dissipates in the morning. After much groaning and mumbling (and much mutterings about the indecent hours that spring skiing requires of one), we finally managed to drag our sorry asses up, and beginning to don our clothes. I am particularly lazy, and if I am going to be getting up early in the morning, I pile up every article of clothing right by the bed, so that I sit on the bed in the morning, getting dressed. If it’s cold, I sometimes don’t even get out from under the blankets before being fully clothed. This morning is not cold – in fact, the whole night was indecently hot, part of the reason why we did not sleep well. But, ach, well, whatchagunnado?
Getting up early is for crazies, I think to myself. Crazies, nutsos, and people who have no sense of self worth.
And still we get up.
Finally, the engine of the car revs, and we are off. Allenspark is a while away…my brain goes into it’s-early-in-the-morning-foggy-white-place. We finally arrive at our destination of a random campsite along Rock Creek. I am still not sure that it is decent to be up and about, but I have one of those itchy, not-possible-to-ignore feelings that if we do this, I will feel much better. So, I suck it up, shiver (hey, it’s cold! finally!) and strap my skis on my back.
One of the things I love about skiing in the spring is the little hikes you get to do before hand. I know there are some people who hate the whole skis-strapped-to-the-pack thing, but I love it, I love hiking along, feet becoming saturated quickly in the melt-off, the smell of pine dense, the golden shafts of early morning sun gilding all, the crisp air, with those pockets of heat that happen in the spring, all drugging the senses till you feel punch drunk, staggering in awe through the dense pine.
After a while, it’s on with the skis, and the skinning begins, at first following a road – easy travel! At one point we stop to check the map, and Dan looks up.
“Hey, hey, hey!” He says – morning time leads to impeccable, eloquent language, for sure. I look up as well and see two snow shoe hares dashing pell-mell right at us – and Stella. We all three of us stand there staring at them, until you can see the fear light up their eyes, and they dart off into the trees.
Psycho bunnies. We have seen psycho bunnies. Taking it as a sign, we decide that this is where we turn, and head up the little clearing the psycho bunnies just came sprinting down. Soon we are switchback up, up, up through dense pines – ‘tis an adventure we want, ‘tis an adventure we shall receive!
Pant, pant, pant. But, miracles of miracles, I feel better than on did on Tuesday and Wednesday, which makes me happy. We wind our way up through the towering pines, and slowly, they become not quite so towering, shrinking, shrinking, shrinking, as we climb higher and higher, till we find ourselves dumped out upon the Rock Creek headwaters.
We spent a bit of time dinking around, thinking at first that the mound to our right must be St. Vrain. It seems to be in the wrong direction, and according to my watch, we are only at 10,800 feet, and the summit of St. Vrain is supposed to be 12,162’, and the distance looks nothing like that between us and the summit of that lump. As we wind our way across the valley, suddenly in front of us looms a large peak in the correct direction.
Ah! That must be it. That lump must be Meadow Mountain, and this peak, which looks so far away and huge, that must be St. Vrain. It looks like it’s on another planet!
“Huh, well, this is quite the approach,” Dan says, and I agree.
However, distances are hard to measure up here, sometimes, and we find ourselves at the base of the peak in what feels like no time at all.
More up. At first it’s not too bad, and then the grade kicks up, and I find myself sucking the clean mountain air hard into my lungs, the two little guys working like my own perfect bellows. The air sears so good. I love the feeling of gasping for air, the slightly light-headed feeling (nothing like on Pawnee, which was not so fun) that makes me feel heady and exhilarated.
Suddenly we gain the ridge and there is the whole Wild Basin to the north of us, Meeker and Longs Peak looming in all their grandeur, flanks blanketed in majestic cloaks of white, crowns of cold upon their regal heads. The views are a nice distraction as we huff it up the ridge, bellow-lungs sucking air, arms and legs mechanically pumping away – the body can be an amazing machine, when well oiled and cared for.
Several false summits later, and we stood upon the true summit, looking down at the marker briefly, and then out and around. We try to tell which peak is Ogalalla Peak. I want to ski it because it’s so far from the trailhead, and also because the name is just enchanting. Ogalalla Express. It makes me feel exhilarated just thinking about it.
The wind is whipping up here, so we decide not to stay long, each downing some food before clicking into our skis, almost skiing off down a very tempting slope that would definitely put us in the wrong drainage, and off we go.
The snow on Pawnee was like wet cement, this was *almost* the perfect corn. In just a few days, it has become much nicer and smoother. We enjoy the sweeping turns, both of us laughing, and Stella doing her adorable lop-sided grin when we reach the bottom. We look back up at our tracks. One thing I like about skiing is the mystical part of lying down nice tracks down a pretty slope, and the fact that when the snow melts, the fact that you were up here at all is completely erased.