The Long and the Short of It
January has come and with it brilliant blue skies and cold clear air. Dreams of fresh powder are, well, only dreams. We tour into the mountains for exercise and views of the high alpine and its rugged peaks. In these short days of winter the trees throw shadows longer than they are tall and in the aspens the world is full of stripes, black and white and blue.
The snow sparkles still but now decorated with frost and underneath we know depth hoar grows, silent and deadly, eating away at the stability of the snowpack. Slopes of silky, recycled powder tempt us but we stick to our plan and travel a forested ridge to a wind blasted rocky summit.
Around us the mountains of the Elk Range soar high. Mount Daly, Capitol and Clark Peaks have front and center stage and from here the jagged Willoughby ridge stretches in the distance where it meets the Maroon Bells, sawtooths in the sky. On our high, barren perch the slightest breeze cuts like a knife as it seeps through the icy peaks.
We don’t stay long as the sun sinks even lower on the horizon. We glide back down, making turns in glades and meadows cast with long, dark shadows and slalom through the aspens now streaming with golden light. As we reach the car the sun is gone.