Monday, November 16, 2009

End of Summer

Summer has departed, letting both Autumn and Winter in at the same time. The so called "shoulder seasons" are highly variable here in Boulder. It seems that the Jet Stream bounces up and down high above us, resulting in an alternating weather pattern of warm days and snow storms. We have already had two such snow storms; nestled in between, we had balmy days with warm temps.

I like the variation. The weather forecasters usually know when a change is coming, so you can usually prepare. Although freezing temps followed by warm weather can make for mucky trails, most of our trails dry pretty quick (I do not condone riding muddy trails). Due to the fast-changing weather, you can often get out and do a "summer" sport one day, followed by a "winter" sport the next.

After the first snow storm in October that dropped over a foot of the fluffy stuff (within which we snow shoed and snow hiked), sunshine, wind and warm temps melted the snow away in a couple days and dried out the trails. We put the snow shoes away and got out the mountain bikes again for some fun with good friends from North Carolina who just moved to Colorado. We wore shorts and short sleeves (OK - except for Suze, who didn't realize how much warmer it can get from night to day here!). Nothing beats riding dirt in November wearing summer riding clothes!!

The boyz (Jesper and Patrick) hanging out at the Nelson Loop

Patrick at Hall Ranch on his first mountain bike ride as a Colorado resident!

Suze over dressed a bit.....

... but she clearly still had FUN!

During this warm phase, I ran in shorts and Jesper and I got out on the single speeds. On Thursday, I was able to ride my road bike in 74 degrees, wearing shorts and a short sleeved jersey. The afternoon was sunny and the air, while breezy, felt comforting on my exposed skin. Nothing beats a warm sunny road ride in November!

Crappy iPhone pic of my road ride up Left Hand Canyon

The next day, as predicted by the weather forecasters, everything changed. We awoke Friday morning to clouds; gone were the sunny skies. The temperature dropped steadily during the day. By 3:00 when I was ready for my afternoon run, it was 35 degrees and a full-on snow storm! I ran decked in winter running clothes in a near white out. Nothing beats a trail run in a snow storm! (sorry - no pics!)

The snow kept coming, so Jesper and I decided to head up to the mountains on Saturday to get in our first day of skiing. This is the earliest we have hit the slopes of any season since we moved out here; we are anxious to get in ski shape early so we can maximize an upcoming cat skiing trip to Grand Targhee in mid-December. We knew the snow would not be great, very little terrain would be open and it would get crowded. However, we also knew we would not be skiing yet at our peak, possibly only having the legs for half a day anyway; might as well get our first day over with before the good snow comes!

Copper reported 5 inches of freshie, so that's where we headed. We arrived right about when the lifts were starting up. The snow was surprisingly good and at first, the slopes were not crowded. Other than Jesper's new boots causing him some foot pain, I thought we both skied really well especially for our first day! I had imagined that my legs would be quivering and shaking after a few runs, but they felt solid! We managed to ski until 2:00, when the combination of Jesper's painful feet and the increasing crowds rendered it, in actuality, beer-thirty. Nothing beats a 1554 after a day on the slopes!

Jesper making one of the first turns of the 2009/2010 season!

Jesper looking good!

We opted not to ski again on Sunday, deciding instead to take advantage of the snow to take Strelka out for a snow hike before it all melted. Hoping for some majestic views of the Flatirons, we planned a hike from Eldorado Canyon (South Mesa TH) up the Homestead Trail, across the Shadow Canyon Trail and back down the Mesa Trail. Although we only saw a few other people, the trail had been packed in enough that Gore-tex shoes were adequate. Jesper wanted to play around taking some video, so high mileage was not our goal; I think we only hiked about 3 miles. We started out under low lying clouds and diffuse snow fall - so much for the views - but the clouds began to lift toward the end of our hike. Sometimes the mountains are even more stunning when they are partially obscured by clouds. Nothing beats the beauty of the Rockies cloaked in snow and cloud!

Jesper and Strelka heading up the trail

Jesper is the teeny - tiny figure heading down the trail

The clouds began to lift, but still obscured the Flatirons

Jesper and Strelka on the snowy trail

The clouds dispersed to reveal the Flatirons sprinkled in snow

By the time we hopped in the hot tub Sunday night, the clouds had been replaced by clear skies. Monday morning dawned sunny and bright. According to the weather forecast, we will be back up in the mid 50s by tomorrow. Time to get the bikes out again, and maybe the skis too, this weekend. Nothing beats the variable weather of the Front Range!