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Author Topic: January 1, Front Range, Colorado  (Read 1872 times)

Posts: 516

January 1, Front Range, Colorado
« on: 01/07/10, 08:52 PM »

Day 16
Front Range, Colorado
New Years Eve Moonlight skiing on the Continental Divide

Twice on a Blue Moon

When I arrived in the parking lot, Mikes car was already there, looking forlorn and lonely. Perhaps it was the weather, which was terrifying, or maybe it was because it was a little after 10 pm. Either way, the small light cast from his car shed a beacon of warmth and hospitality in the other-worldly dark of an otherwise uninviting place.

The wind, a constant in this geography, was a demonic physical presence this night. It moved my car around as if it were a toy, throwing doors open with a vengeance, ripping loose items malevolently away from the unaware. The new snow from last night did not look impressive by itself (only adding a welcome white pallor to the snow banks on the drive up), but it did lend a new, and somewhat ominous, nuance to the wind. Huge spirals of snow would twirl around off the trees, growing and moving as if alive, racing and raging across the landscape, blasting through snow banks and any other stationary objects. Such as my parked car.

Im going skiing, in the dark, in this?


Fifty yards up the ski slope the night changed dramatically. While we could see and hear the effects of the wind overhead, the angle of the slope, unlike the parking lot, perfectly protected us from the fierce northwest wind. Even with my headlight off I could scan the slope around me as if it were high noon. A party of skiers had thoroughly enjoyed the slope only hours before us, so while it was tracked, it wasnt tracked out. And they left a nice up track to make our efforts that much easier. Lemonade from lemons, we could easily follow the track to the top and avoid any heinous trail breaking.

I looked back at Mike and saw his mood had improved as much as mine. I realized as I looked at him that I could tell he was smiling. This, at 11 pm at night without my flashlight on, was really quite remarkable. Above us, the Moon blazed unspoiled, only wispy moisture racing past as the next storm approached from the west.

At the top, we were once again assailed by the wind coming over the ridge so quickened our departure.

I used my flashlight in my left hand as I descended and was able to find boot deep untracked powder left over from the skiers on the day shift. My light was not necessarily needed, other than to erase the moon shadows left by trees, and we were able to charge down the slope with reckless abandon.

I pulled up next to Mike near the bottom and plopped down in the snow next to him. It was a dreamy place now. I was having trouble reconciling the anxiety and dread of my arrival in the parking lot with the winter wonderland I was now enjoying. Mike and I marveled at our unique experience and the lovely night around us.

We have to do it again.

Im not sure which of us said it, maybe both. So we did.
« Last Edit: 01/08/10, 06:55 AM by MW88888888 » Logged

Posts: 316

Re: January 1, Front Range, Colorado
« Reply #1 on: 01/08/10, 10:59 AM »

nice descriptions!

gotta love "that damn wind" of the front range.


Posts: 30

Re: January 1, Front Range, Colorado
« Reply #2 on: 01/11/10, 09:43 PM »

Where were you guys?  Loveland? Berthoud?  I lived in Vail for a few years and we'd ride Loveland every full moon.  Classic.

Brian "RandoBro" Simmons

Posts: 516

Re: January 1, Front Range, Colorado
« Reply #3 on: 01/12/10, 06:56 AM »

Hi Rando -

For the full-on party, moonlight skiing at Loveland Pass is my favorite.  Car laps at 2 am?  Check.  Bonfires?  Check.  Fireworks?  Check.  Fun stuff.

But no, we weren't at the passes.  That's why it was so quiet!       
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