It snowed 3" Friday night. Not much by Colorado standards, but enough to put me on an asphalt road instead of a mountain trail. See, last week it got too warm (even rained - global warming) and turned the foot of hardpack on the trail into a rotten, unreliable crust. With 3" of new cover down low and more up higher, the footing on the trail would be too dicey.
So, shortly after sunrise, I was on the county road that winds up through ranch land for a five mile run. Running on 3" of snow covered asphalt road is not bad. But even in 3" of fresh powder, you'll get some slippage, making you tire faster and slower. Remember: The White Dragon rules.
I started off slowly to warm up, running in the fresh powder along the side of the road. Towards the middle of the road was a single set of tire tracks from a vehicle that had come down the road earlier that morning. The snow was packed firm and some rock aggregate poked through it. After a quarter mile of warm up, I stepped into the truck track to pick up my pace a little.
Being an quasi-environmentalist, I have a love-hate relationship with big 4x4 pickups, ATVs and snowmobiles. I enjoy the quiet of being outside and inhaling cold, fresh air. When the machines are around, the air stinks of combustion and the engines loudly rumble and drone. Snowmobiles are the worst because their engines rev with a high pitched whine and, when the conditions are just right, leave a trail of blue exhaust that lingers for several minutes.
Yet many times I have found myself running, snowshoeing, and skiing in their tracks. The deeper the snow, the more irresistible it is to get into their tracks because they improve your footing and conserve your energy. And on a couple of occasions years ago when I was quasi-lost in heavy snow in the back country, I followed snowmobile tracks to get back to my car and civilization.
Yesterday I was grateful for the tracks. Only a couple of trucks came by during my run. One passed just before I turned around. I held my arm out and waved and saw the driver wave back as he sped by in a swirl of snow. He was in a big three quarter ton with dual rear wheels. He'd packed a nice wide swath.
Going back, the road is mostly downhill. Between the downhill and the truck tracks, I was able to open my stride up and get into a smooth groove. Off to my left, I spotted a black horse galloping effortlessly through deep snow across a hillside pasture. I think I know what he felt.