Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On the eve.

Although L has lived most of her life in snowy environs, pedaling a fat tire bike atop deep snow is new. Riding with her on these inaugural missions *could* be a recipe for marital distress, but by keeping my distance and letting her figure out most of it on her own, she seems to be both challenged and enthused. And it's enjoyable for me to watch a non-stop string of light bulbs go on over her head with every passing hour.

The snow is deep and cold--meaning there's a few millimeters of crust supporting us, with feet of unconsolidated depth hoar below it.

These conditions are typical for us right through March--cold snow that rots by the minute, and doesn't like to stick to itself. Last winter I had Surly Larry tires on L's bike, but she weighs so little that even at very low pressures (roughly 3psi) she still couldn't get any traction on climbs. So this year we're experimenting with the aggressively knobbed Surly Nate tire out back--and so far it seems to be a dramatic improvement.

Despite the stillness of the day you had to be constantly alert for snow bombs.

The sheer quantity and size of boulders that make up this mountain keep the slednecks home until the snow gets a lot deeper. Thus, this season we're still limited to snowshoe and backcountry ski trails.

In some shady spots the depth hoar is largely indistinguishable from surface hoar--large feathers separated from larger only in the topmost few centimeters of the snowpack. These spots won't be rideable until late March when the sun has swung 'round again.

I can never get enough all-day low angle light, so March can wait while we savor December.

The trails we ride are *skinny*, groomed only by shuffling feet. There is a few inch wide swath dead-center that can support us, but the level of support drops rapidly as you reach the edges of the track. Here L is summoning a whole childhood of snowmobile muscle memory telling her to steer with a weight shift instead of her hands.

But with a track this narrow even ideal technique doesn't always guarantee success. Fortunately snow is clean, deep, and dry.

Doesn't hurt that at 10,000' on a bluebird day the sun is borderline scorching.

There is a spot where a spring flows out of the rocks and into a small lake, keeping that spot open through the coldest temps all winter. I've wondered for years what I'd see from the water's edge, and on this day finally conjured up the gumption to posthole down and have a look.

What I saw confirmed that I wasn't the only organism drawn to that spot.

I sense a multi-sport day approaching...

Eventually we reached a point where the ski/shoe traffic just hadn't been substantial enough for us to continue riding. Rather than practice shove-a-biking we opted for an about face and kept the mood light.

Wrapping up the afternoon with a fun section of twisty track through the trees.

Twas a wonderful way to spend a day of our lives.

Thanks for checkin' in.