As we got out of the car to put our boots on at the base of the mountain, bbbbrrrr.... it was cold. Not sure how cold, but single-digit cold for sure. We got going quickly, watching our breath play out in shapes in front of our faces, lit up by the light from our headlamps.
Up the skin road we went, and since none of us had ever been ski touring in this particular area before (although I had skied past it and looked at it dozens of times) we kept looking off to the right and finally found the track we needed to be on.
As we climbed through the aspen groves in the dark, we couldn't help but notice the elephant among us. Although we were at about 9,000 feet, there seemed to be an odd lacking of adequate snow coverage in this particular area and each pole strike into the ground went through the snow surface with a crunch. We regrouped several times going up the hill and all said at one time or another, "I sure hope we don't have to ski down through this," because it was hateful, knee-twisting, survival-skiing conditions.
At one point as I waited for Brett & Kate to catch up to me, I turned off my headlamp to take in a view of the stars. Looking off to the northeast ~ BOOM ~ meteor. We had hit the Quadrantids meteor shower perfectly. We all stopped several times on the slope to marvel. I couldn't help but feel how small we are in comparison to such a sight. Reading from the web address above makes me realize just how lucky we were to witness this event: "While the plus side of this annual shower is its ability to produce fireballs, and its high hourly rates, the downside is its short peak. Quatrantids has an extremely narrow peak, occurring over just a few short hours. The Quadrantids are also well known for producing fireballs, meteors that are exceptionally bright. These meteors can also, at times, generate persistent trails."
The light slowly crept its way up and over the eastern ridge of mountains and we found ourselves in a nice, mellow, low-angle aspen grove, northeast facing, with dense sugary snow and thankfully, no sun crust. Transitioning over to ski mode from climbing mode we laid down our tracks through the trees. It was surprisingly very enjoyable and really only the last couple hundred yards were a bit brushy, but not crusty. I even managed to navigate us safely around the creek bed at the bottom of the slope without having a 20+ foot climb back to the skin track that we had started on.
We skied past our $1.75 million future home and back to the car. I discovered that I had put a handful of chocolate-covered almonds in my pants' pocket and affectionately calling them "moose poop", shared them with the others.
Back to the car by 8:30 am and we de-rigged and drove down the canyon while others were just driving up to start their days.
When I got home, I took a long, steamy shower to warm back up, stopped by Starbucks for a coffee, and made a fried-egg sandwich at home. A mid-morning nap on the couch with the dogs felt pretty good as well.
This had to be one of those "top ten" things that I have done in my lifetime. Although, it seems that the more I go on incredible adventures, my list has long surpassed ten things. It was a magical morning in the mountains!