Overcast Day on Willow Creek – February 04, 2017

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On Willow Creek, mid-Winter, a good day for skiing

Once again, on my third straight outing, I returned to Willow Creek.  Perhaps my second favorite locale for Nordic skiing, surpassed only by nearby Gold Creek, I enjoy the quietude and ease of access not to mention the low-key character of the natural world espied in that area.  Lying at a modest elevation of eighty-five hundred feet above sea level the area is resplendent with large groves of aspen punctuated by old Douglas fir and spruce.  Managed by the Gunnison National Forest as part of the great public estate that belongs to us all, this area also falls under the auspices of the Fossil Ridge Recreation Management Area, a designation that seems to be of less importance as many of its enhanced protections are being similarly adopted on all the adjacent National Forest lands.  Still, it is good to know that further development in this area is likely to be curtailed.  Although open to motorized vehicles, I am still able to enjoy the sounds of Nature on most of the days that I venture to this drainage.

There are some six creeks within Gunnison County that carry the moniker Willow.  This one, as I have reiterated in previous blog entries, is a branch of Quartz Creek which is itself a tributary to Tomichi Creek.  The latter stream empties into the Gunnison River near my home in the City of Gunnison before the totality of the fluid is carried to the Colorado River.  Formerly, prior to all the impoundments and diversions, that river terminated at the Gulf of California where an ecosystem of immense diversity and quantity existed.  So noted by the esteemed naturalist Aldo Leopold as well as the indigenous peoples of the area.  Alas, that exists no more, as in many years, if not most, the river dries before reaching its end.  There are efforts afoot to revive the area but matched against mighty powers that “own” the water and a skeptical public, it is a difficult task to say the least.  These thoughts sometimes occupy my mind when I look at all this snow lying about the headwaters of this basin, that the ice will eventually melt and become part of the great coursing river as well as the discourse that occupies our society relative to water specifically and the environment generally.

I must admit, however, that the above paragraph emanates from my mind more as the gestalt of my thoughts rather than any specific recollection of this day.  In fact, writing about this trek now, in late September, I hardly recall this ski.  Looking at the photographs that I took I can see clearly that the snowpack had been well set and my tracks from previous skis were fairly well established.  Leah appears to have been able to cruise along the surface of the tracks without punching through.  It also appears that I skied up to my minimum distance for this outing, reaching East Willow Creek.  A mid-morning ski, the temperatures wouldn’t have warmed up too much but I’m guessing that the overcast skies kept the warmth from dissipating overnight so that the morning never chilled much below twenty degrees Fahrenheit.

I’ve always thought that this area doesn’t relate well to digital imagery, as my snapshots never convey the feelings of contentedness that engender themselves onto my soul when I’m skiing along quietly.  I look at this set and notice many of my favorite places here; the old cabin, now deteriorating into the Earth, decomposing slowly yet inexorably, comes to mind.  I am especially fond of the big spruce where the road crosses the creek.  It provides shelter for me as well as the wild denizens of this place.  I have also come to know and appreciate individual boulders or outcroppings of the native granite, and often take a moment to reflect on the history of the Earth as told in rock.  I am grateful for all of the individual aspects that make up the whole but enumerating them all would be tedious.  I am especially thankful that I had this day to spend out in the woods, where I can relax a bit and decompress after a monotonous week of mentally stagnating work.  The leaves outside my window are turning, green going to gold, and when the snows begin to fall in earnest again, then once more will I don my skis and head out into the whiteness of Winter.

Sunny Day on Willow Creek – January 30, 2017

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Sun seen through bare aspen on Willow Creek

The penultimate day of January dawned nary a cloud, blue sky seen from horizon to horizon, a bluebird day after nearly a month of stormy and overcast weather.  The clear skies brought chilly temperatures, as well, so I consequently must have felt no immediate compulsion to get out early and ski, waiting instead until the warmer afternoon to take my two German shepherds, Draco and Leah, along with me on a ride up to Willow Creek near Ohio City.  We exited the vehicle, me corralling the dogs and herding them towards the trail, away from any traffic that might be on the paved county road.  They gamboled about, excitedly running from one patch of yellow snow to another.

Meanwhile, I gathered my gear and basked in the warm rays emanated from the Sun.  Having donned my backpack, and with skis strapped to my soles, I set off as the shepherds ran ahead, scurrying after any purported sign of some wily rodent.  Clear and crisp would describe the air this day.  The cold sapped all moisture from the atmosphere and the lack of humidity added a clarity to the views.  We made our way in these salubrious conditions, passing the old cabin about a half a mile up the road.  What did surprise me was the lack of sign – no tracks from the deer herds that usually meander about during the Winter months.  I suppose that they had gone elsewhere due to the deep snowpack.

Between this excursion and the last some snow had piled up, but not too much.  New snow fell just enough to cover my previous tracks.  For the first mile my trek was fairly easy, keeping to the trail that I had made the last time.  Draco and Leah did fairly well as long as they kept the the tracks.  They still floundered whenever the ventured off into the woods.  Once I reached the terminus of my previous tracks the going became more taxing as I had to push through the deep snow.  I kept going until I reached the East Fork of Willow Creek, which is my traditional turning around point on this trek and minimum distance for what I would consider to be a decent outing.

Along the way I enjoying the azure heavens and white slopes covered in dormant aspen and dark green conifers.  The aspen always seem so serene, white boles rising up out of the white blanket.  Upon reaching my destination I sat under a large spruce, in the shade to keep the blazing Sun from singeing my fair skin.  Adroitly, I let my legs hang out into the sunshine and thus gather up the fleeting warmth.  Draco and Leah lay down nearby, both digging into the snow and shaping a bowl for lounging.

The accumulated warmth from the sunlight induced a state of brief slumber in me.  Once so rested I stood up and threw out my arms perpendicular to my body while thrusting out my chest, all the time aimed at the Sun.  Draco and Leah ran about, the latter especially wagging her tail in eager anticipation of our return.  The ski back over my matted trail I thought comparatively effortless as the skis glided over the packed snow.  The dogs could wraith about in the snow whenever they got hot, and I shed some clothing on our way down.  We reached the car and my mediation on the natural world ended as I reconnected to our society.  A fine day, I thought, and felt blessed to have been out in the snowy woods, revering the gestalt of it all.

Short Ski on Willow Creek – January 23, 2017

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Leah and Draco on Willow Creek near the old cabin

Sometimes, it is hard to be a dog, but, at least in the life that I provide for my canine companions, not often.  Today proved a challenge to both my two German shepherds and myself.  The snowy, and relatively warm, storms continued to deposit the frosty substance without the deep cold I often associate with a Gunnison, Colorado, Winter.  I decided to revisit Willow Creek on Quartz Creek, a place I had already been to this year, for the reason of expediency.  I didn’t want to ski on Cabin Creek due to habit issues with the deer who were suffering somewhat for forage.  I didn’t really want to drive up to Monarch Pass or past Pitkin due to road conditions, nor up to Crested Butte because of the intensity of motorized recreation there, so I ended up at a place fairly nearby that met my needs.

Initially, Draco and Leah bounced around and frolicked in the snow as is their typical wont once released from the car.  However, once we began to ski up the road, Gunnison National Forest Road 882, the furry beasts began to flounder in the deep mass, wallowing up to their chest.  Leah is a real slouch in these situations, and I soon became convinced that she was suffering immensely.  I should now mention, so dear reader doesn’t think ill of me, that Leah is also a great canine actor.  As soon as we turned around, about a mile up the road, and she knew we were on the return, her attitude changed to one of eager bounding.  Whereas Draco would carry on heroically, Leah immediately forms a judgement of futility that is hard to shake.

All traces of previous tracks had been obliterated by the continued accumulation so I ended pushing immense quantities of snow aside as I pushed my way through.  I wanted to keep going despite the challenge but both Draco and Leah couldn’t gain purchase on lower layers of the snowpack and had to leap their way along, a extremely physical activity.  Again, the weather being relatively warm, the fur enshrouded mammals quickly built up heat and didn’t seem too amused by the situation.  The lack of cold also does not allow a crust to form that can easily bear the weight of the pups.  With a heaving sigh I decided to stop short of Devil’s Hole Gulch, which in itself is shy of the forks of Willow Creek that is my traditional minimum distance I usually consider to denote a proper outing.

Still, the amount of snow was worth pondering so once I decided to turn back I did stop to contemplate the amazing natural world that I now found myself in.  I know in my heart that this snow would bring about green meadows filled with vibrant wildflowers but that world is difficult to conjure when all about you is icy white.  The only green is on the evergreens and that variety is fairly dark that lends itself to a near black especially when viewed from a distance.  The aspen, nicknamed “quakies” due to propensity of the leaves to quake in a breeze, lay bare, their white bark adding to the overall sensation of Winter.  I do enjoy Winter, as I consider the season to be a great cleanser of the organic world.  Trees are pruned and other flora is otherwise prepared for Spring’s return.  The animals might suffer if underfed, old or diseased but that is the reason predators exist, to thin out the herds.  Yes, Winter can bring cold remorseless death but I often find myself feeling more alive than ever when out in the woods on a Winter’s day.

Fresh snow on Gold Creek – January 21, 2017

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Approaching the Gold Creek Campground, low clouds obscuring Broncho Mountain up Lamphier Creek

A light snow had fallen, adding to the base that had been established from the series of storms that affected the Gunnison Country in the first half of this January.  Perhaps a total of three or four inches had fallen during the night.  Upon waking I decided to get out and, warmly dressed, play in the snow.  Thinking about the moose that I had encountered on this very trail earlier in the week I wanted to see if the beast had moved on or not, therefore I set my itinerary to Gold Creek.  Draco and Leah, my two intrepid German shepherd companions, leaped up into the frosty car after I had loaded up all the gear, poles, skis, boots, and a backpacked stuffed with odds and ends, necessary to our enterprise.  Then, a short drive east of Gunnison on U.S. 50 before turning up the Quartz Creek Road to Ohio City, from whence we drove up to the end of the plowing on Gold Creek Road, also known as Gunnison National Forest Road 771.

At the Winter trailhead I let the shepherds out and they burst from the car before eagerly exploring the immediate vicinity.  I strapped on my skis, the three-pin bindings holding fast as I shoved off from the car and began the jaunt up the hill towards the remnants of the Sandy Hook Mine.  Passing the familiar buildings, erstwhile used in their ancillary capacity to support the mining activities but now relegated to Summer use on a limited basis, I admired them as I almost always do, stoically squat and resistant to the weight of the overbearing snow load.  A few minutes prior to arriving at and then passing through the old mining site I had paused at the location where we had encountered the moose the previous week.  It had, not surprisingly, moved on and no new tracks could be seen in the fresh snow.  However, I did suspect that the creature had remained within the drainage at large and thus did keep the dogs fairly close by and made sure that we avoided the dense willow along the creek.

Once past the old mining site the snow-cat tracks turned off of the public access and onto a private road that we do not follow.  A property owner uses the machine to access his land, and on occasion I meet him and we stop to talk about whatever relevant subjects come up in the subsequent conversation.  Today, however, all remained quiet and still.  Following the road we continued up another mile to the Gold Creek Campground.  I would have liked to gone further but the dogs were wallowing in the deeper snow, not compacted by the machinery, and didn’t seem to be enjoying themselves.  Oh, sure, there were squirrels to hassle and old moose tracks into which the dogs could stick their snouts and imbibe the unusual odor, but generally Leah especially carried a countenance that suggested recalcitrance at her current situation.

Stopping at the campground for a moment allowed us to enjoy a snack.  The sky was overcast and gray, but the weather didn’t seem too cold.  The moisture that had been carried into the Gunnison Country by this series of storms, now stretching back some three weeks, also contained a goodly amount of warmth.  Still, sitting idle let the cold seep in and soon enough I found myself gliding back down the road we had come up.  The conditions for skiing were pretty good, and this quick outing made for a pleasant morning.  Breathing in the fresh air, scented with the odor of thousands of conifers, I gave thanks that this small pleasure was allowed to me.  Our public lands, I am convinced, are precious for a number of reasons.  I could enumerate many justifications such as providing homes to wildlife, but included in that list would be the mental, emotional and physical goodness accrued to those who delve into the natural world, even for a brief adventure during the morning hours.

A Ski to Quartz Campground on North Quartz Creek, a Portion of Gunnison National Forest – January 17, 2017

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Gunnison National Forest Road 765, at the Winter trailhead just outside of Pitkin, Colorado

After nearly two weeks of continuous storms, this day broke with a bit of blue sky visible, and the temptation to get out and enjoy the relatively calm weather overwhelmed any other priority I might have had this day.  I enjoyed, nonetheless, an easy morning, making a pot of coffee and a bountiful breakfast, before I finally gathered my gear and drove east from my home in Gunnison, Colorado to the drainage of Quartz Creek.  Gunnison County plows the road all the way to a point just beyond Pitkin, about a half a mile, where the campground of the same name is open during Summer.  Here is located, among the lodgepole pine and spruce, the Winter trailhead that allows access to this portion of the Gunnison National Forest.  I parked the car here and let the dogs, Draco and Leah, my two German shepherds who accompany my explorations of the Gunnison Country, out and they did exit with a burst of pent up energy, running amok from one scent to another in the time honored canine fashion.

Nobody else made use of the trailhead at this time so I needn’t have worried about the shepherds disturbing the public at large.  This area is somewhat lightly used, and although open to over the snow machines, not many people are seen in the backcountry.  To be sure, I don’t relish sharing my quiet time with noisy and noxious machinery, and some parcels of the public lands I have made off limits to my personal use due to the ubiquitous presence of snowmobiles.  Here, however, there are few and the people operating them are respectful of my presence and slow down when passing by.  I suppose if I really didn’t want to see them I could go to a place where they are prohibited or cannot operate.  Today, all was quietude and naught could be heard excepting the breeze rustling the branches of the conifer forest.

Skiing on snowmobile tracks is both a blessing and a curse.  The machines effectively pack the snow so that I don’t have to expend extra effort to blaze a trail, although at times I like doing that.  The downside is that the tracks can freeze up and create a situation where they grab my skis and cause them to go askew, causing me all sorts of grief and fatiguing my effort.  The best situation is to have a few inches of snow covering up the bumps while allowing a fairly effortless glide.  Today the tracks hadn’t been covered up but the snow hadn’t gone through a freeze and thaw cycle such that the surface had frozen solid.  I could still push through them, the small ridges, without my skis going off kilter.  The shepherds also took advantage of the packed snow to run up and down the road without having to wallow up to their chests in the deep accumulation.

Of course, I ultimately come out here to get away from all these technical thoughts that focus on our fast paced lifestyle.  Rather, I like to slow down and let my mind dissipate all the negative energy stored up from a week of working angst.  I can then focus on the majesty of the mountains, noting the geology and flora that persist regardless of the season.  Some fauna is out and about today, as well.  Mostly I see songbirds that amazingly survive in this harsh climate.  Winter is a quiet time, whereas in Summer I am always dazzled by the diversity of flowering plants, and during this season I take particular notice of the stunning topography near the Great Divide.  How, for example, the rocky crags rise up above treeline, where the snow covering has been somewhat blown off from the prevailing winds and the gray rock is dappled with pockets of white.

The knife-like ridges run on for miles, perpendicular to the divide itself, until diminishing altogether some two dozen miles to the west.  I, in the valley below, look up in confused perplexity at how such a grand scene came to be, although I understand the mechanics perfectly well.  It still seems like an impossibility, but the constant if minimal eroding force of water compounded with eons has created many such marvels.  The water runs nearby, and as I let my mind work over the arithmetic, I am put at ease by the gentle gurgling of Quartz Creek.  I further discombobulate myself when I factor into the equation the forces of the Earth’s crust that has pushed up this immense mass of magma to shove the deep overlaying sedimentary rocks aside.  The cooled magma is now a granite or some such related rock, igneous in nature, and my mind compares its presence, breaching up through the surface of rock, to that of a submarine surfacing on the ocean.  Instead of water sloshing off the surface of the submarine the sandstones have slid off the igneous rock.

Perhaps, I think to myself, I am thinking too much, and I continue to ski, letting all these thoughts churn in an out of the way corner on my mind as I let the greater part of my being slide into a comfortable null where I can let my physical exertions occur within the near subconscious.  The miles slip by, and my sounds, the skis sliding over snow, meld with those made by the mountains, wind, for example, passing over the trees.  I can hear the soft echoes from the dogs’ paws striking the giving snow and we are all content to move along.  Some three miles later I arrive at the Quartz Campground and decide that this is as far out as I’d like to go today.  I ski around a bit, but not too much because now I am making tracks and the shepherds, especially Leah, are none too amused at the wallowing they do.  I find a table, barely recognizable under the snowy padding, and sit on top of it without bothering to clear the snow off.  The dogs lay in the sun and create wallows within which they fall into slumber soaking up the warmth.

This stillness within our group lasts about a half an hour before the clouds gather and block the sunny sky.  The breeze picks up and a noticeable cooling has been affected.  I gather my gear and lead us all back out the way we came before commencing the glide back down Gunnison National Forest Road 765 to the Winter trailhead.  I don’t often, if ever, hike here during Summer when many cars send up plumes of dust and walking becomes a noisome chore.  However, I have driven by here often enough and that combined with my ski treks has allowed me to gain a familiarity with some of the minor highlights.  I greet, as much as an animated self-aware being can that an inanimate mass, the rocky outcroppings that have become familiar.  I gave a prayer of well-being to the aspen groves that most everyone else roundly ignores.  I said thanks to the minor trickles of water that emanate from small gullies often disregarded.  My ski concluded, I return to the waiting car and drive back home to ensconce myself in the warm comfort of my abode where I recall the glory of the past few hours.

Skiing on Willow and Gold Creeks – January 16, 2017

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Gold Creek near Spring Gulch

Two weeks of Winter storms had deposited a mass of snow of record proportions.  Coming straight out of the Pacific Ocean during a relatively warm year, the product of the precipitation wasn’t the champagne powder of yore but rather a heavier blanket that settled into a dense swaddling that covered the landscape in a white coat amid the bare aspen and dark evergreens.  I had just ended a massive bout of working up at the restaurant and decided that it would be a good day to go up and visit one of my favorite ski areas on Willow Creek, a tributary of the Quartz Creek that drains into Tomichi Creek, the waters of which flow by my house in Gunnison, Colorado.  Not that I have a nice little cabin next to the creek itself, but rather that the creek flows some half a mile away or so as it nears its junction with the Gunnison River.

So much snow had accumulated at the parking space adjacent to the county road that I almost got myself stuck when I high-centered the car on a berm of packed ice, the remnants of plowing the adjacent highway.  Fortunately, I habitually keep a shovel in the back of my car so I was able to remove the debris from the plowing operations and free myself from that dilemma.  Immediate exertion ended I subsequently donned my ski gear and set loose the shepherds, Draco and Leah, my two steadfast backcountry companions.  We plodded along Gunnison National Forest Road 882, heading up along Willow Creek.  The aspen forest, dormant awaiting Spring’s return, ran up to the rocky ridges nearby.  I soon realized that the going would be anything but easy, as the dense snow prevented easy kicking much less gliding.  Draco had to leap up with every step, even though I had broken the trail.  Leah, meanwhile, always recalcitrant in deep snow, as if her thoughts were on the comfy couch at home, trailed behind in a halfhearted attempt at keeping up.  I had to prod her along and she still seemed not too interested, and the truth was that Draco himself seemed none too interested in continuing, nor I in all earnestness.

So, after a scant mile of skiing I turned around and headed back towards the car.  Leah became suddenly animated, wholeheartedly running back down the ski track, despite her inclinations towards sloth on the uphill trek.  Before heading on my way I did take time to note the harsh beauty of this small corner of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.  Some folks might even call this landscape dreary on such an overcast day when the sun could do naught but glow behind the thick cloud cover.  Still, I could feel the spirit of the place and moment.  The very few tracks seen suggested that the critters who make this place their home were patiently awaiting fairer days, but I knew that they would emerge unscathed when salubrious conditions warranted and life would then return in aggregate.

Not really feeling that I wanted to be done with my outing, having driven up here and made the effort to gear up, I decided to visit nearby Gold Creek where I knew that a firmer base of snow would have been created by a large snow-cat that would thus provide the dogs with a better experience.  Poor pups, they just wallow somewhat haplessly in the deep snow that hasn’t been compacted nor developed a solid crust.  Here, they might have to push a few inches to a foot of snow as they trod along, but at least they would set paw down onto a supporting base.  After the somewhat arduous drive up the narrow road with snow banks rising above the car’s roof I let the dogs out and we recommenced our continuing adventure.  They ran out ahead as is their wont while I glided behind.  About a quarter of a mile along I  suddenly noticed that Leah had her hackles up, and was looking up ahead of her around a bend beyond which I couldn’t see the object of her consternation.  For safety’s sack I recalled the dogs, using my “leave it” and “come” commands that I have trained both shepherds with.  Once they were at my side I made my way cautiously up the road until I could see the moose that was standing in the road with a countenance that suggested it was in no hurry to move anywhere else.  Not relishing the idea of bumping the taciturn creature, said thought being both disrespectful to the moose as well as impractical since that large creature could easily stomp and crush either myself or the dogs, and knowing that there was no practical detour that didn’t put myself in hazard, I decided to turn around and ski down Gold Creek Road instead of up.

Thus, we returned to the trailhead and passed by the parked car, continuing down the road.  Although skiing on open roads is somewhat anathema to me, due to traffic and the likelihood of me striking protruding rocks, there would be little to no traffic this day and the base was deep enough to prevent the latter contention.  We trekked down about a mile and a half or so, till we reached Carter Lake and Spring Gulch, the approximate site of the old Raymond Mine where numerous ruins persist.  Judging by the number of old structures strewn about the length of Gold Creek, of which this is but one, this area must of resounded with the clamor of industry at one time near the turn of the Twentieth Century.  I am content for the most part, despite some current mining activity, with the present state of quietude found in the vicinity.  Carter Lake, it should be noted, no longer exists, as far as I can tell.  It may have been an artificial impoundment related to the extractive industries but now it seems to have been drained.

Along the route to and fro, I noted the generous amount of snow that had built up since the series of storms began some two to three weeks prior.  The scene was truly a Winter wonderland and I felt blessed to get out and enjoy the gift of pure white plenitude, for I know that this snow will melt and translate into green forests and meadows resplendent with a rainbow’s palette of wildflowers spangled among the verdure.  The aspen boles stood out white and bare, dormant awaiting Spring’s returning warmth while the evergreens had collected masses of snow upon their bending branches.  Dormant were the leaves for sure, but it is my understanding that the aspen bark is actually able to provide a certain small amount of photosynthesis during these cold months.  What a fascinating adaptation, if true.  Here I further understand why so many of the high elevation conifers have a narrow vertical profile as they better shed the weight of the accumulated snow.  For now, that would have to wait, and the trees stoically bore their burden as the dogs and I passed.

As I generally drive along this road, and must focus my attention as such, I do not note as much as I would should I have been strolling along at a slower pace.  Therefore, on this day, I noted a few more old cabins and structures that I had not noticed before.  In the end I had a good ski, although it took, as the saying about charm goes, a third time.  The Winter scene has a serenity about it that invites contemplation.  Yet, there is also menace here due to that very serenity, a product of cold temperatures and crystalline water that is inimical to human life.  Care must be taken when traversing, or living in, such an environment, and I am always happy to return to my warm abode where I can recount my adventures with comparative ease, perhaps donned in my bathrobe sipping on a hot cup of coffee.

Skiing on Gold Creek, Sans Camera – January 10, 2017

I don’t often forget my camera, but on this particular day I did.  Usually, I discover my gaff before I drive too many miles from my home in Gunnison, Colorado, and can return so as to retrieve the forgotten image maker.  However, on this occasion I didn’t realize my error until I had already driven up to the Winter trailhead on Gold Creek, at the end of the plowing on Gold Creek Road.  I decided to go ahead and proceed with my ski up to the campground because the drive is arduous, due to the amount of snow on the narrow road, and this ski trek is fairly routine in the annals of my various odysseys.  I should note however that despite the routine nature of this ski it is one of my favorites and I always enjoy my journey through the forest and across the meadows of the Fossil Ridge area, a spur that juts out to the west of the main chain of the Rocky Mountains.

The first quarter of a mile is the steepest part of the trip and leads up to the old Sandy Hook Mine where a number of domiciles remain though infrequently used. None too many ruins from the mines themselves are intact, only a tailings pile marking the industrial nature of this acreage.  I have oft taken numerous images of these buildings especially during the snowy months as they have a picturesque quality about them.  I must admit to having an envy regarding their ownership, namely that said proprietary responsibility has not devolved unto me.  I would love to live here, in either of the two cabins or in what appears to me to be an old boarding house.  Maybe, someday, I will realize my dream but I don’t wait about anxiously for that day as it is perhaps more likely that my want shall go unfulfilled.  Regardless, I enjoy skiing through the property and visiting with my eyes only.

Draco and Leah, my two intrepid German shepherds, accompanied me on this trek as is their usual wont.  I would believe that they frolicked about and ran about with joy, the snowy cold bringing about a friskiness not seen in Summer’s heat.  Honestly, I don’t remember this ski very well, other than I made it, and my written account is merely an amalgamation of memories from the numerous previous visits I have made to the area.  The only reason that I know that I made a ski sans camera is because I wrote down the fact on my dry-erase board.  That being said, I must admit to not even making that brief notation until some weeks later, and the date must be looked at as not entirely accurate.  It could be correct, but maybe not.  Irrelevant, in the bigger scheme of things, since I do know that we were in the midst of a two week binge of stormy weather and the snow had piled deep.  The snowplow crews had had trouble keeping up with the incessant accumulation and getting anywhere could present a challenge to the most capable of drivers.

What is certain, base on past experiences, is that I enjoyed my ski, whether through new powder or on other’s tracks.  I am fairly certain I did not proceed farther that the Gold Creek Campground within the Gunnison National Forest.  Possibly, I swept off one of the tables in the campground so that I could make use of its convenience.  I would believe that I couldn’t see the higher surrounding peaks due to cloudy and cloudy weather, but perhaps the overcast had lifted enough to make visible Broncho Mountain and Fairview Peak.  I know for sure that at the time I would have felt blessed to have had the day, getting out in the woods for some much needed therapy to counteract the negative energy engendered by my employment in the service economy.  In other words, just another typical day in the life of this cosmic voyager.