Landscape: It’s a Big Backyard

Tulips started blooming weeks ago in warmer climates, but it’s still snowing here in Vail, Colorado. And even though I like tulips, daffodils, chirping birds, and mountain bike rides, I’m not complaining about the continued snowfall. Last week, I was able to get out for three days on my randonée set-up, one day on Vail Mountain with a foot of powder and two fun friends who came over the pass from Copper. But one of the best spring mornings out skiing, however, was the morning I went out with a group of seven guys in my hometown’s big, big backyard. The objective? Fresh tracks. Found, and pictured above, at right.

Billy M. was the fearless leader and lightning-fast climber. He jokingly told me not to tell anyone where we went, but I know he was probably serious, not wanting lots (more) locals flocking up this way and reducing the chances of fluffy, fresh tracks. So I’m not going to mention the name of the mountain we climbed. If you know the area, you probably already know. Lame? Whatever.

I’m not going to lie. It hurt: skinning for three hours to the top of a mountain with seven guys who do this, like, every weekend. They were all in great shape, and I figured that they probably do some psycho stuff to train during the week, too. Being with this crew inspired me, made me want to be faster and stronger and more psycho in the mountains.

One reward for getting punished up a mountain? The view at the top. I gaze up at these peaks every day from the valley, but they look so much better from this altitude, don’t you think?

And then the ultimate reward for skinning to the top of a snow-covered peak? Skiing down. One by one, we took turns descending this nice north-facing slope and then adventure-skied our way through gullies, over streams along the trail home.

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