BASALT - Sunday was a powder day by my measure.
The inch of fresh stuff in the morning snow report for the local ski areas did not lure me upvalley, but the four inches in my driveway had me wondering what I might find on the mountain closest to home.
Snow was piling up quickly as I headed for Missouri Heights above El Jebel, intending to park at the closure gate on Basalt Mountain and ski up the road. I was hoping there'd be enough base to cover the gravel and protect my touring gear; boy, was there ever. I stepped off the side of the road where I'd parked my car and stood mid-shin in powdery fluff.
There wasn't a snowmobile trailer in sight, but I encountered close to a dozen skiers heading up or down the road, many accompanied by ecstatic, barrel-chested Labradors bursting through the snow. "Isn't it wonderful?" one woman spontaneously blurted out as we passed each other.
I had to agree that it absolutely was.
Snow was coming down like crazy, and though it was deep on the road, it was soft enough to break trail with relative ease. I mostly stayed in tracks already set by other skiers just the same. I figured conserving energy would allow me to go farther, and it was one of those days when I didn't want to turn around.
I reached the summer parking lot and veered right, continuing up the road where no one had gone before that morning. The snow was so deep, my skis disappeared entirely, gliding silent and unseen beneath the surface. Usually, the tips cut the snow, like shark fins in the water, but not this time.
Finally, my legs dictated an about-face. I grinned at the prospect of the downhill run, but it wasn't exactly a screaming descent. With my skis parallel in my own tracks, I crouched to gain speed but wound up pushing a growing pile of snow with my legs. I might as well have had a plow blade attached to my ankles.
I had to kick and glide almost the entire way back to the car. But hey, I'm not complaining.