On the Hill: Eeny, meeny, miny moe
CARBONALE ” I didn’t have an extreme experience Sunday but it was still one of my best ski days of the season.
Sunday was all about options. I had a great day skiing powder with my daughter at Snowmass on Saturday so I knew a return to the downhill slopes would be a good call.
A friend alerted me that there were outrageous opportunities to rent skate-skiing equipment at the Snowmass Village cross-country ski center and score a cheap lesson.
Another friend invited me on a backcountry trip up Spruce Creek outside of Lenado. A similar outing last year made for one of the most enjoyable and memorable adventures of the year.
And, of course, there was the option of playing spectator at what promised to be an exciting last day of the Winter X Games.
I weighed all the options, then promptly threw them all out and decided on a mellow backcountry tour with my dog. I’ve neglected her most weekends this winter in favor of the downhill slopes or cross-country trails, but the mood struck for something simple Sunday. She picked up on that. She has this innate sense of knowing when we are going to do something more than our typical Sunday morning walk.
We drove up to the Spring Gulch cross-country ski area in the hills southwest of Carbondale, parked on Thompson Creek Road and made our way up the gentle grade, me on skis and Ginger frantically sprinting ahead, then returning to urge me to be quicker.
The road is closed to vehicles during the winter, but snowmobiles create a surface that ranges from perfect to nearly unnavigable. Sunday’s surface neared perfection. Fast but not icy. Solitude was an added bonus as we wound up past some old coal mines and into a narrow canyon. The lower route is usually busy with people exercising Bowser or pedestrians ambling along, but we encountered only four snowshoers in one group in a two-hour round trip.
It didn’t have the excitement of downhill skiing, the satisfaction of track skiing or the adventure of backcountry skiing. In other words, at least for that day, it was perfect.
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