Skiing as transportation: isn’t that what skis were originally made for? I’ve recently discovered the back-to-the basics fun in skiing to get somewhere. One of my neighbors showed me a way to ski off of Vail Mountain, cruise through some trees, and eventually drop down the mountain and ski out just behind my apartment. From there, it’s only a five-minute walk home. In this way, I avoid the crowds in town, don’t have to worry about parking, and can otherwise walk right up to my front door. Plus, the trees along the way look pretty cool.
The trek home starts out on a ridge west of Vail’s westernmost ski lift. Technically, this involves skiing out of ski-area bounds, but I guess at one time, there were no ski-area bounds, so I think it must be okay to duck a rope every now and then. The route follows an obvious path through some nicely spaced aspens:
The aspen grove eventually bumps up into a tight pine forest, and then the fun really begins:
The trees get so tight that you’ll want to hold your breath to get through them. Definitely, this is the place to keep your ski tips together, unless you want to go straddling a trunk:
I absolutely love skiing through places like this, places where you have to pick your way through, and when you look up, it doesn’t seem like there would be enough space to pass through at all. Last week, I was out in these trees alone, and the wind was blowing through them, making an eerie, creaking sound. The whole forest felt alive.
The reward for making it through: fresh, untracked powder. That is when all goes well, at least.
I’ll admit to making a route-finding error last week, and I ended up with a friend on a snowboard slogging through the flat parts of a gully. We eventually hiked up on a ridge and made our way out, but we popped out about 20 minutes further down the road that I had hoped…