It snowed again today, for the fourth day in a row. That’s a lot of snowing for what is ostensibly spring, but in fact this is what spring is at 7300', on the high altitude tundra prairie of Laramie–alternating periods of mildness with returns of winter that can be almost as tough as anything that comes in January or February. There’s not much snow in town, but up in the hills it looks as completely like mid-winter as can be imagined.
I skied for the 126th time this season, which now has stretched for over a third of the year. Serious skiers could do worse than base themselves here. For instance, skiing is not nearly so available in places such as Miami, New Orleans, or even Houston, no matter what the natives in those places maintain. It just doesn’t snow all that much in Houston.
And what if you get tired of winter weather? You just have to try to find the positives. If nothing else, snow means water, and water means life. If there was no snow around here, it would all be desert and dry mountains.
Skiing in April certainly has its advantages compared to skiing in late November. In November, the snow depths and coverage are usually more marginal. It is colder. There is much less light. And much, much less light at the end of the day. But you can tell that many people do not see those advantages. Almost anyone who skis is trying to get out in late November, no matter the weather and no matter how poor the trail coverage is. In April? There is almost no one.
The far end of the groomed ski trails skirt the edge of Brown’s Landing, and pass through a part of the Brown’s Landing map we used during the 2014 Laramie Daze. I often think of that race when I ski through there now, and I thought of it today.
The map itself is small, skinny, and not easy to access since the main part of the map is high above the only feasible parking. I’m not sure where I got the idea to have a race day there, but probably I thought of it during one of the countless trail runs I have done through there. It’s beautiful, it’s more remote (with no motorized travel allowed) and more wild, and it has a real feel of being in the mountains, with some commensurate big views.
It’s also a tougher area with some big slopes and many hills and knobs, and bits of forest littered with fallen beetle kill pine trees. I knew going into it some people might not find it to be their cup of tea, and yet I was still drawn to the idea because of the special nature of the venue and thought that some people might really like it a lot.
Right from the very beginning I planned to have the start most of the way up the very big slope that dominates the area, to lessen the toughness of the area. One area that I wanted to use for a control didn’t have any suitable features to use, so I built a small stick teepee for a manmade black “x”. It didn’t take long to come up with a course design I was happy with, but that was on paper. I test ran the course, along with a friend for an independent set of eyes, and was even happier with how it felt and ran. Sure, there were some tougher spots and a fair amount of climb, but it was fun, beautiful, and special–definitely not a run-of-the-mill type course or area.
The race itself went well.
Those are the sorts of things I think about when I ski through there, and I thought of them today. It was beautiful, with several inches of fresh snow on the ground, and late afternoon sun with a few remnant clouds still passing by overhead.