Monday, December 15, 2014

We've got you covered

Finally went out for a ski in the woods out back. What I found did not surprise me, though I marvel at it every time I encounter it.
Snow cover is very complete, even after many days with high temperatures solidly above freezing. The sun is so weak this time of year that the snow is actually dense and crunchy nearly everywhere.

With rain and warm temperatures, we don't have the full depth that 12 inches on Thanksgiving and a couple more storms with two to four would leave us if we'd gone into a real winter deep freeze. But the same weather pattern in late February would have melted the snow so fast you could practically hear it sizzle.
Warm water lies close to the surface in the saturated, unfrozen ground. You ski where you can, because you can, not because you have to. In a full-on winter with complete coverage of deep snow, a ramble in the woods would require skis or snowshoes. That's the kind of winter we hope for every year. Optional skiing is different. You get to slide and glide on thin cover rather than just trudge, but you could trudge if you had to. You can ski on snow so thin that snowshoes are ridiculously unnecessary, using the gliding qualities of the medium more than the flotation ability of the ski.

Looks like one more good day of this kind of skiing before another rainstorm. We're in the last shortening of the shortest daylight, so the snow cover may actually continue to hold up in a lot of places. But where it has been groomed it has been thinned and damaged by the machinery, making it more vulnerable to hostile weather.