[Christy here, again] It’s not a good sign when things look like this in January.
Sure, we need more snow, but it could always be worse. Even with a not-so-great start to the season, we’re still pretty lucky that we can get out on a nice, long tour and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.
With a random Monday off, and a need to unwind from the holidays, I took my cross-country ski set up out on the Express Creek to Richmond Ridge loop, and got in a little solo training for the upcoming Elk Mountains Grand Traverse. Since Ted had to work, he kindly offered to drop me off at the Express Creek trailhead up by Ashcroft, so that I could get out for this classic 20-mile loop back to town.
The five-hour trip, which finishes at the gondola on Aspen Mountain has always provided a great way to start getting some training miles. As for the current conditions, well, about 5 miles up Express Creek by Taylor Pass, there were some dirt patches, and skiing down towards Barnard Hut was pretty challenging, in the vicinity of Gold Hill and MacArthur Mountain.
However, Richmond Ridge itself was in great shape, probably due to lighter snowmobile traffic than usual. And with the edge-less skate skis and the slick conditions on Aspen Mountain, it was an easy decision to download on the Gondola straight back to town.
All and all it was a beautiful, warm sunny day and felt good just to be out in the backcountry.