Snow and Mud, ’tis the Season!

It happens every year…  spring mud season…  and every year we swear it’s worse than the year before; more clouds, more snow, more rain, and more…mud.  but seriously, this year takes the cake as being the longest and wettest off-season in recent memory.  it doesn’t help that the ski area is still stacked deep with snow and only now showing a few brown scabs on the lower half, spots that are typically visible by closing day in a less-snowy season.  and as the puddles grow deeper and the pot holes grow fiercer, you might start to think that you are one reality show re-run, one facebook chat session, or one garage organizing afternoon away from going absolutely stir crazy indoors!  so GET OUTSIDE!  stop rearranging furniture and enjoy the wind in your hair, don’t be afraid of a little rain, breathe some fresh air and get your feet wet!  actually, get your feet wet but keep them warm.  I mean let’s not go totally crazy, you gotta have warm, dry feet or even the nicest of spring days will go downhill faster than a 5 year old on a birthday cake sugar crash. last weekend amidst one of our rare perfect spring days, I ventured up the spring creek trail, one of steamboat’s most popular trails.  it’s accessible right out of downtown, it’s a shady and gentle grade, and parallels spring creek for most of the way up so it makes an excellent dog run.  on this particular day in early may, I found my shoes totally water-logged within the first 5 minutes.  the creek is raging and in some of the lower spots it has covered the trail in a few inches of water and lots of unavoidable muck.  as I climbed in elevation I soon discovered that much of the trail was still covered in a rotten pack of snow that either made for some grandma running or lead to post-holing knee deep.  so let’s review, I have water-logged, snow packed shoes, and a thick layer of mud covering the outside of my soles.  sounds like a good time to turn around right?  even if my feet had been cold I would not have given up on this adventure, but thankfully I was totally comfortable and my feet felt great.  they even felt warm!  I was wearing point6 ultra light micro running sock.  it truly amazes me what this merino wool is capable of.  instead of my feet feeling wet and cold, with every step they seemed to be warming up and by the time I made it back to the car they were actually starting to feel dry.  the tightly spun fibers were actually creating air pockets of insulation against the freezing cold moisture as it was absorbed and evaporated out of the sock.  i’m so glad i didn’t turn around and head down early because i was rewarded with not only a great workout and a good dose of vitamin D but I spotted some rather large and fresh moose tracks, at which point I promptly did turn around. there’s no way to predict if we are still going to be skinning for fresh turns in J or if we’ll be riding single track by then, but the weather shouldn’t stop us from getting some fresh air.  so get the right gear so that you have no excuses to turn around and miss out on a great adventure this mud season!

~Katie Hughes,

Mountain Lodge Telluride in the Summer