Sunday, April 20, 2014

Oh Mother Nature

Oh Mother Nature, why must you tease us so?
Wet snow atop slush atop mud - yuck!

It was just a few days ago that I was marveling at the snowpack we had in & around Breckenridge as I was expecting skijoring deep into May and dreaming of June outings. Well, Mother Nature exerted her authority yesterday and made sure I knew who was boss and who is really in control of the May & June conditions. Mother Nature's authority came in the form of a rainstorm Saturday afternoon and evening! Nothing destroys snowpack faster than rain; not sun, not warm temperatures but rain is the quickest snow destroyer. We were talking with a friend who has lived in Breckenridge the last 20 years and he said, "I can count on one hand the number of times it has rained in April!" It does not rain here in April - it snows or it shines, that's it. The Saturday afternoon/evening rain eventually turned into snow; but that did not fix the damage the rain had done to the trails...

The day's route took us out & back in French Gulch. We were first tracks on the trail; but it was wet snow on top of slush for most of the day. The slush was the damage done by the rain before it was covered by 2-4 inches of wet snow.
Laying fresh tracks in what looks to be pristine conditions. But, look closely at the footprint
behind Max - we were cutting through the fresh snow and into slush most of the day!

Eventually we got above 11,000 feet elevation and everything came back to normal - fresh snow atop snowpack. So, the rain clearly did not occur above 11,000 feet; but all of our trailheads start between 9500 and 10500 feet elevation.
Above 11,000 feet elevation and climbing towards French Pass.
The conditions are still soooo good up high; but the rain beat up the entrance from
every direction.

As the previous two photos show, we were laying fresh tracks most of the way out French Gulch and eventually breaking trail at higher elevations. About 1/3 of the way back from our turnaround point, we ran into snowmobile tracks for the remainder of the return leg.
Sprinting along the fresh snowmobile tracks. We go so fast on set tracks!

Unfortunately there was one big problem with snowmobiles - they are heavy! So, while the tracks gave us a fast track to sprint, it also frequently exposed the slush below the snow. Today's video highlight shows the constant obstacle of the day - running fast and then slowing to navigate & avoid slush patches. It was this way most of the return route: run, run, slow to avoid slush - repeat...
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

If only we could stay above 11,000 feet all day...
"Exactly - it is GREAT up high!" say the approving pair once we got above the
slush layer and into pristine conditions.

The day covered 8 miles, 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH with a huge rain induced slush layer from Mother Nature to remind us who is really in charge...

2013/2014 Season to Date: 134 days on the trails covering 1159.1 miles with 133,900 feet of elevation climbed.

No comments:

Post a Comment