Posts from January 2015

Seems Like Spring on the Rocky Mountain Front
Posted January 30, 2015

But it's still January. Many places get a January thaw, but this is getting ridiculous. The temperatures this past week include a day at 70, another at 69 and two more in the 50s. But I did get out to ski before the warm wave hit.

It was near 40 at Izaak Walton Inn last Saturday. The grooming crew did a good job on the soft, wet, corn snow. All the snow on the trees has melted or fallen off . It was damp and warm but it didn't rain.

One problem with warm weather is that all kinds of stuff falls out of the trees. Check out the ski tracks around this chunk of snow. At least this was at the top of a hill.

The air was so moist that water formed drops on the trees which fell onto the skier below. It wasn't really rain but maybe the closest thing to it.

Over by Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park the mountain were beautiful.

On Wednesday I took a hike with my friend Jim. It was a nice hike but the remains of my ski tracks from two weeks prior got me a little depressed. I think I'll head down to West Yellowstone this weekend. I hear there's still great skiing there.

Compare the snow depth in these two maps. On the left is the snowdepth on January 10th. On the right is today. Yuck!

More Winter Beauty with a Touch of a Chinook
Posted January 23, 2015

The Rocky Mountain Front where I live is a windy place in the winter. Arctic blasts bring strong north winds. After the blast subsides a Chinook often takes its place. Chinooks are "snow eaters!" Air flows up and over the Rocky Mountains then descends onto the plains. As the air descends it compresses and warms. 40-60 mph warm winds stroked the plains this week bringing temperature to the mid 50s on Thursday. My snow at home is gone except for some deeper drifts here and there.

As I drove to Izaak Walton to ski earlier in the week I expected the same farther north. But as I approached East Glacier the snow had not yet warmed. It was still dry enough to skitter along the ground in front of the wind. This created a beautiful scene that included the mountain backdrop.

Entering the mountains the air was cooler. At Izaak Walton Inn it was around 22 F, there was fresh snow and it was powder! I got my trail pass, prepped my skis with some Swix VR 45 and headed over the bridge to the trailhead. Amazing! The fresh groomed trails were a delight to ski.

My skis had that nice slick feel under foot with no scraping sounds. The forest was beautiful and the snow lay deep. The photo above is at Kendi's Crossing. The trail crosses a bridge over Essex Creek high on the trail system. The trees were flocked and the creek was buried. The snow gauge there measured 51 inches. Not bad!

I wished the skiing would never end. But after several hours the body said no more. I headed back to the Inn.

The Beauty of Winter or Why I Ski
Posted January 16, 2015

There are many reasons why someone would enjoy skiing. Camaraderie and friendship, a great form of winter exercise, competition in races and a way to enjoy the beauty of nature. I ski for all these reasons and more. But this past week, the beauty of the natural world in winter was outstanding. Here's a few of the winter scenes I enjoyed this week.

Skiing up the Middle Fork of the Teton I had this great view of Cave Mountain and the Teton River.

A snowstorm buried the Northern Rockies last week with 2-3 feet of new snow. This created a real wonderland along Essex Creek as seen from the Izaak Walton Inn trails.

Sometimes travel to the mountains has to be more laid-back. I waited for about 20 minutes as several hundred head of cattle were herded to new winter pasture. But the view of Ear Mountain is the left background was nice.

Midweek, I skied up the South Fork of the Teton. A row of sharp peaks and pinnacles separate the South Fork from the Middle Fork of the Teton. Here is one.

Tilted strata in the foreground and Wind Mountain behind were spectacular in the bright sunshine.

This is a good weekend to visit your local ski area. The Cross Country Ski Areas Association sponsors Ski Fest Weekend. Many ski areas will have special events including equipment demo, short introductory lessons, discounted trail passes and more. So get out there and enjoy winter. It will be sprig before you know it.

Entering the Heart of Winter
Posted January 9, 2015

The Holiday season has slipped past and it's a New Year. Looking at the weather and cross country ski reports from all over the northern US I can tell we are entering the heart of winter. Long nights, short days, plenty of snow and cold temperatures. It's definitely a time to ski. In fact this is often the best part of winter because conditions are relatively stable and the snow is dry. I skied at Izaak Walton in Essex and spent another three days in West Yellowstone. The skiing is both locations was great!

When the snow lies deep and cold it's also a beautiful part of winter. Check out the interesting frost feathers on Essex Creek. The temperature that day reached 6 F and there wasn't much wind. Perfect conditions for these interesting formations.

Another view of the tree lined Essex Creek at Izaak Walton and a photo taken by Jennie skiing the Rendezvous trails called, "I think it will snow!"

January is also the month I begin to look forward to the Birkie. This 34 mile ski marathon requires a lot of stamina. There's 5,000 feet of uphill in that 34 miles. I know from experience that I cannot just show up and expect to have a good time. Yes, I might make it to the finish line but without some training that ski would be a real suffer-fest. Prior to this week I didn't worry too much about preparing for the Birkie. I just wanted to enjoy skiing and get comfortable on the snow. But now it's time to prepare.

Last Saturday I decided to increase the distance I skied in a single session. I used an app on my iPhone to track where and how far I went and the elevation change. I wasn't concerned with speed -- heck I'm not that much of an athlete anyway. I do want to finish the Birkie though without too much suffering. So I plan on spending more time during each ski and will stretch the distance some as well.

My app shows that in a little less than 3 hours I skied over 13 miles (21 Km). My elevation varied from about 6650 ft. up to 6850 ft. with plenty of ups and downs along the way. The map chart my course on the Rendezvous trails. To get the 21 km in I skied In and Out, Volunteer, Jerry's Journey, Dead Dog, Hill 191, Doug's Doodle, Deja View, Purple Haze and part of Rendezvous.. Man that was a fun ski!

Last weekend at West Yellowstone was perfect. The groomed powder conditions were wonderful, there was enough sunshine to make the trails look cheerful and the silky smooth snow was a joy to feel under my feet. The heart of winter is indeed beautiful but it will pass all too quickly. So I'd best be getting out there for more fun.