We're a month past our earliest sunset (Dec 7, easy to remember), and today is the first day where the afternoons start getting longer by more than a minute. Now that we have sailed through the first 10% of winter, the remaining 90% will be a piece of cake, and July (the traditional local end of winter) will be here before we know it.
With the sun shimmering away and the temps well past the single digits (a relatively toasty 11F), it almost feels like summer already!
Skiing seemed like a good idea after the arrival of all the new snow and the passing of the extreme cold, so up I headed in the early afternoon for a planned long, easy ski. I expected to find to find a smattering of cars in the parking lot but not much more than that, given that the university is still on break, and the high school and junior high school teams were off racing elsewhere. I was instead astounded to round the bend on the approach to the parking lot and see the parking lot was jammed with quite a few cars parked in the snow on the other side of the highway. Outside of race days or Wee Ski Sundays, it's the most cars I've ever seen up there in the winter.
Luckily someone was leaving the lot just then, so I was able to sneak in and nab a spot. Parking on the other side of the road can be an iffy thing--sometimes you end up stuck and can't get out until May or June.
Once past the Campground Loop and the Meadow, the trails didn't feel crowded at all, and before long I was by myself. I must have gotten distracted, because when I hit the start of the hill on the Summit Trail, I was still skiing. It's not a huge or steep hill, but normally I stop and take off my skis on all the hills, and walk up. It's way faster--I don't know why they don't do it that way in all the big races--and the footsteps in the snow make for ideal places for pole plants for folks who want to ski up instead.
But anyway, I was still skiing up, at a brisk rate of at least 1 km/day, when my revery was disturbed by something loud and coming up from behind very rapidly. Maybe another skier had taken off their skis and was walking up the hill and overtaking me? Could a moose have mistaken me for wolf, and, enraged, was initiating a fierce stomple attack?
My real fear was that it could be ISIS. As long back st 2009 I had written the Obama administration to warn them that their number one priority should be to build a wall on our southern border and make Mexico pay for it because I had very good information that ISIS was at any moment ready to sneak across the border, and make a beeline for the Laramie Range in order to unleash a completely devastating act of terror on unsuspecting cowboys and cowgirls clad in the brown and gold. However, as soon as I thought that, I relaxed, because I had nothing brown or gold on me. Whew!
I should not have relaxed so soon, however, because when the gap had finally been closed and the noise making object pulled up beside me, it proved to be the notorious man from Greeley, CO--racer X8A7.
He said hello, and the truth is if he hadn't slowed down and kept quiet, I wouldn't have even recognized him. Everything is so different since the Russians elected Trump, and you just don't know what to believe anymore, not even your own eyes, sometimes.
Graham was doing some various drills and it was at a pace I could manage, so we skied together until he was done. I did my best to pepper him with questions to keep him out of breath so as to enhance the training effect from the altitude, and it might have even worked a little bit.
It was fun to see him, and to see he was fully recovered from his ankle wreckage back in July. I haven't mentioned it to him yet, but seeing he is good to go, I plan to send word to the Broncos--who are in bad need of some more help with running back duties for next season--that racer X8A7 might be just what they're looking for.
Total ski was 3+ hours, adequate to exhaust my flimsy arms.