Boots on the ground…

It’s an awkward time of year here, stuck between autumn and winter. A couple of inches of snow on the ground. Not enough to ski. Daytime highs hovering around 0c mean that the minimal snow cover is at risk. Colder nights, a few flurries, and a chance of significant snowfall dangling on the far end of the weather forecast keep hopes alive.

With very short daylight, and no skiing, I’m left to hike in the snow through some favorite terrain near home. This morning’s hike climbed past the cloud layer and into a winterscape of bluebird sunshine, colder temps, and a few more inches of snow. It seems that elevations above 3000 feet have a noticeably better amount of snow. As in, “…well, if we would just get 3 inches more, we could ski on this!” (the Methow Valley riverbed altitude is about 1800′ in Winthrop, and maybe 2000′ in Mazama). Fresh tracks in the snow are all you need to start a little exploration; a little adventure. A little something.

Maybe with rock skis? …at 3000 ft in the Methow Valley.

I think the locals who don’t explore any further than the grocery store are feeling pretty gloomy about the prospects of skiing ‘right-out-the-door’ soon. But those who are putting boots on the ground and getting out and up into higher elevations are finding more snow and brighter weather. Just a few miles from home and a thousand feet up, the situation looks much more like winter.

So where does that put our ski season? When will it kick off?

I think that higher trail heads (Sun Mountain trails, Cub Creek) will be the first to get enough snow to groom and ski, even if it’s marginal. And in those areas, we are just one ‘reasonable’ snowstorm away. Six inches? That would get us out the door for sure. Maybe this week.

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