Playing in the snow

Something different last weekend. Instead of battling the snow and near sub zero temperatures on our bikes, Nick and I joined Shad and Steph for some fun in powder. We rented skies and headed to Monarch Mountain west of Salida. Both Shad and Steph have been skiing for years, so it was to have them along. They knew the mountain by heart and made excellent and patient guides for two newbies. While I'd spent plenty of time skiing in high school, it had been years for me. The first two run were petty funny as I tried to remember how to turn, keeping my knees together and my balance points. I'm sure I looked pretty silly. But eventually, I got my act together and started making possible turns. I also attempted a few runs through the trees in the deep powder. Umm, yeah. No powder tree turns for me! I took a few tumbles, but the powder was soft and cushioned my landings. And then there was Nick. He's been downhill skiing maybe three times. His method of getting down? Either straight down hill or all the way across, snowplow to a stop, turn and repeat. Shad, Steph and I watched him, all laughing as he snow plowed his way down the slope. Gotta give him credit though - they don't make mountain like the Rockies in Minnasota and he still kicks my butt on a bike. I don't think it would take that long for him to kick my butt on skies either.

It was also a good test for all our clothes. I don't think the temperature climbed above 5* all day. Add in the wind chill and sitting on the lifts and it was cold. We've been slowly getting the gear we need for back country trios and hut trips but this was the first real test. It all worked. From my wool base layer, vest and jacket to the bibs and shells we've used for snow shoeing, it all worked. I looked like a goof ball in my berry colored clothes, but I was warm! And that made me happy! That means when we finally get the final piece - skis and boots and such, we will be ready for anything on a hut trip. 

The most interesting part of the day was the drive. Driving up to Monarch, we saw the usual ravens eating road kill. But one of them was a little bigger. And it wasn't a raven! Nope, huge bald eagle in the middle of the road... Those birds aren't like the ravens for taking off. It was more like a bomber and needed a long time to get heft to lift off. We are all in van, screaming "bald eagle!" Nick is swerving to avoid hitting it and none of us think to get a photo. Wingspan on that bird was huge, and we were all the way over in the other lane to miss it. Beautiful bird and so elegant taking off - right in front of us!

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