If it’s winter, and there’s snow, there’s nothing I love more than sliding on it on a pair of skis. Whether it’s flying down the slopes at Winter Park or Eldora, or gliding through the trees at Brainard Lake, skiing is something I look forward to all year. Just the act of skiing puts me in a better mood and brings a smile to my face.
So when the Indian Peaks Wilderness Alliance sent an email in October inviting the Summer Wilderness Trail Patrol volunteers to ski and snowshoe the trails as part of winter patrol, I was all in.
Fast forward to mid-December, when normally there would be two feet of snow on the trails. But not this year. For me, since so little snow had fallen, I hadn’t even considered going on patrol. The object of patrols is to be the face of the Forest Service in contacting visitors. How many visitors could there be out on a cold winter’s day with no snow?
Well, apparently, my colleagues think otherwise. We get updates from both the IPWA patrollers and the Bryant Mountain patrollers, the other volunteer group who helps out in the winter time. At Brainard Lake, the concession closes its road to the public as of October 15, and lets the snow begin to pile up, providing an ideal place to cross-country ski especially for beginners.
But with no snow, the patrollers going out the last two weeks have coined it as the Asphalt Patrol. Instead of skiing the road into the lake, they are walking the road, as well as the adjoining trails. Instead of contacting visitors, the main mission is to check for downed trees on the trail, so they can be cleared in time for actual skiing. I guess the advantage to these types of patrols, is that parking is no problem.
For me, I’m feeling uninspired by the idea of walking the black top. Somehow, that just doesn’t evoke the same holiday spirit in me as sliding past pines and firs decked in snow. I’ve checked the records — and even the least snowy winters got at least some snow. So I hold out for another two weeks at least, looking forward to my first winter ski patrol that will actually be on skis.