At 4oC, freshwater lakes will turnover, bringing the bottom-most hypolimnion layer to the top and subverting the upper epilimnion layer. This means all the deliciousness settled at the bottom of the lake churns up to the surface; smell and all.
At the beginning of snow-pack, the same phenomena occurs in my gear tote. Down go the shorts and sunhats and up come the wool socks, and fleece pants; smell and all.
A week ago we got a good coating of about 10 inches of pow (mountain jargon for powdery snow). As my ski set is not yet complete, my thoughts immediately ran to the snowshoes waiting in the entry way hall. Just as I was deciding to head out, Anne called to let me know she had borrowed a pair of snowshoes and did I want to go? There are many reasons we are roommates, and this is an example.
Propelled entirely by enthusiasm, we took off to find suitable terrain. Approaching the A-Basin ski area, the terrain under tree cover did not have deep enough snow so we continued to drive; all the way up to Loveland Pass (11990 ft). Atop the Continental Divide, the breeze was crisp and the sky was a heaven of perfect blue. The parking site was packed double deep with vehicles and snowboarders were everywhere. Gearing up, leashing dogs, packing shovels with which to build jumps, and we were calf deep in dry, powdery down.
Anne and I strapped in and tromped up the ridge, accompanied by Ron, an over-entitled and charismatic husky. Immediately I became aware of a few fatal flaws in our plan.
1) Anne is a snow-boarder and has something of a competitive personality. Coming up here, where we could see dozens of others out riding, was something beyond distraction.
2) Pow, as it turns out…is powdery. We may as well have been walking in regular shoes as, with each step, we sunk to the ground.
We headed East along the ridge for just a bit. For some reason I kept plowing into the deepest snowbanks, with each step hoping to stay on top of the snow. To no avail. I did, however, gain a new appreciation for my knee high gaitrers and trekking poles.
A bit dejected, we tromped back to the jeep after only a short excursion. Anne was watching the riders covetously and I was again kicking myself for letting excitement override fully thinking things through. On the other hand, it was a spectacular learning opportunity and a quick refresher on the dynamic considerations essential to winter sporting.
This season promises a great many adventures and lessons.