You never know what to expect. Sometimes, like this morning, you get up at 4:30, drive to the canyon, get out and start putting your boots on, and wonder what the hell you’re doing this for. Second day in a row of being up this early. Weariness aches all the way to your bones. It’s 12 freakin’ degrees, and the wind is blowing snow in your face at 40 miles per hour. Visibility is so bad that you leave the camera in the car, assuming there’s no point in having it.
For some dumb reason, probably because you’re already there and it would be silly to pack it in and go back to bed, you start hiking. But really you’re dreaming of pulling up a chair at the Original Pancake House and diving into something warm and sweet that you don’t have to work for. It’s dark, it’s cold. No living thing is naturally active in these conditions.
And then you stick your pole in the snow. It sinks 2/3 of its length before hitting something hard, and you realize that even if the wind is blowing and it’s cold and visibility is poor, this snow is too good to leave alone. So you slog away for two hours breaking trail through snow that’s up to your knees most places, and where it’s not, it’s up to your thighs.
At the top, there’s a huge, blank canvas of untouched white. The sun has come out, the wind has subsided. Most of the world is still in bed, wholly unaware of the bounty.
Three laps later, you still can’t wipe the stupid grin off your face. In fact, it’s frozen there from 3,000 vertical feet of continuous face shots in snow that’s as light as only something that’s 94% air can be.
(photos courtesy of Mike M. because of aforementioned idiotic move of leaving camera in car.)
As we started the last lap, Daren, who’s racing his MTB tomorrow, said “I don’t care how bad I do in the race tomorrow, this is totally worth it.” Um, yeah. There’s another 8-12” forecast for tonight.