The shift in seasons is perceptible now. Leafless trees, colder temperatures and snow-dusted slopes tell us we have turned the corner and are headed into winter. I decided to take the gondola up yesterday for one last hike on the Sunshine trail before ski season. A fast, furious storm Friday night had given way to blue skies and sunshine by the mid-afternoon, and the quiet trail I love so much looked a whole lot like winter.

The quick shifts in weather we experienced this weekend got me thinking about preparedness. We recently put away our lawn furniture and started preparing the garden for winter. The past 10 days I was away on a girls’ trip to Mexico with my best friends and working in Boulder. When faced with the choice between hiking Mt. Sanitas in Boulder last Friday morning or driving to Denver to get my snow tires on, I chose the former. The surprise came Friday night, when I left 75 degree heat in Boulder, saw a few sprinkles on my windshield outside Kremmling and entered a full-blown storm on Rabbit Ears Pass in what felt like minutes.

I experienced the eerie vertigo you feel when the snow is dense and gusting at you sideways. After a perilous trip through accumulating snow and ice, my car lost its traction and spun off the opposite side of the road. Just a little bit off. A call to 911 and a few panicked conversations with my husband later, four young guys, maybe 18 or 20 years old who were traveling east, stopped to help me. I suppose they were angels of sorts, because they helped me nudge my way back onto the road and I got home without a scratch. It wasn’t my first hairy trip over the pass, but it was a reminder of the sheer power of mother nature.

Snow guns at the ready on Heavenly Daze

Yesterday’s welcome sunshine made for a perfect official end to the summer season on Mt. Werner. The snow was melting quickly on the south-facing Duster trail, though the almost covered slopes made for a beautiful transitional scene. The trees, now bare, looked stark against the bright blue sky and snow-covered evergreens, and the trails made me dream about carving turns on skis.

Busy crews are working to close up bike trails and ready the mountain for ski season. They said snow making will begin as soon as we have a few days of sustained temperatures in the 20s.

On the way up Sunshine Peak, I could follow in another’s footsteps through about three to four inches of snow. It somehow didn’t occur to me to wear hiking boots rather than running shoes, but the trail was still walkable. I saw only a few hikers with their dogs. Otherwise, I was surrounded by the silence. The only sounds were the droplets of melting snow and the light footsteps of a marmot or two.

A last wall climb at Mt. Werner’s Adventure Zone

I love these tastes of the winter to come, though I was also glad to have one last blast of summer. I’ll take the memories of long swims in the balmy Pacific, and warm sand under my feet with me on the very cold days. No matter where travels take me, I’m happy to come back home where the seasons constantly change.

The view from our spot in Punta de Mita

Enjoy the sunshine this week! And don’t forget to get your snow tires.

 

Jessica Berg, Alpine skier

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