Some days are brilliant. Others? No so much. After the fantastic outing on Thursday I found myself wide eyed and hungry for more of the same. After a winter of low angle tree runs the open bowls of the Days headwall were liberating and spectacular. Suddenly, and for the first time this season, I did not want Winter to end. There was, however, one minor and yet devastating occurrence between Thursday and Saturday: Friday. Wherein temperatures were warm, the skies were clear, and the sun was given free reign to wreak unchecked havoc on the snow’s surface. The backcountry held a lonely, forlorn quality. The approaching weather and the empty, blustery hillside greeted us with indifferent tolerance. The Pfeifferhorn, on the far off southern horizon, however, seemed truly glad at our presence.
Saturday morning the south facing slopes of Flagstaff were baked into an impenetrable concrete. Which meant that skinning up was nearly impossible on the smooth, slick surface, and that skiing down it was hilariously bad. Especially so when on my very first turn off the ridgeline, my ski popped off and straight-lined down the hill nearly a thousand feet. Any of you that have skied Flagstaff understand how disastrous that can be. Luckily the knuckle dragger was able to find and retrieve my errant ski, while I side-slipped down the mountain. In between those boondoggles we did manage to enjoy a few moderately soft turns in the mildly wind loaded north facing Days Fork. Neither of us trusted the look of some of the more interesting lines, and so we hung close to a small spine of trees as we skied through the rapidly approaching gloom.
It was a memorable day, if for reasons somewhat variable than our last trip into the same area.
However, despite the terrible snow conditions, and the comical and vexing nature of trying to skin (or boot) up, or ski down them, it was after all, still a day in the mountains. Which by most measures, still makes for a rather satisfying and grin-inducing experience. We played witness to the incoming storm. The collision of morning light and the dark, violent clouds made for natural, dramatic theater among the white peaks of Lightening Ridge and Mount Superior. Indeed, Superior lived up to its name as it caught the first light of dawn, holding the storm at bay for as long as possible. And in hindsight, perhaps my initial impression was erroneous and superficial. Miscalculated and hasty. It may be that the day was, in its own way, rather brilliant.