With my first weekend off from school trips in three weeks, I knew it was time to go off on my own adventure. But where? With an abundance of new snow (13″ reported at Steamboat’s summit the day of) I knew that Rabbit Ears Pass, located about 20 minutes outside of Steamboat, would be the perfect place to enjoy the deep powder.
When we arrived at the Walton Peak Trail Head, we were greeted by mild temperatures and a stunning bluebird Colorado sky. We began the 2.5 mile trek to Walton Peak’s summit, breaking trail through about 2 new feet of snow. While the new snow would make the skiing and snowboarding great, it made the trek in a much more arduous affair. After making it about 3/4 of a mile, another group of skiers overtook us and broke trail ahead of us (Thanks guys!). Sometimes it’s not always best to be the first ones to the trail head! We continued on, with blue skies and deep powder beckoning us onward and upward.
Breathtaking views greeted us once we reached Walton’s summit. From our vantage almost half of Colorado’s major mountain ranges were visible; the Park Range which we were in, the Flat Tops off to the southwest, the Gore and Ten-mile range to the South, and the Never Summers of the Front Range to our East. It was incredible to see the vast differences in the geology of the mountains in such short distances. On one hand there is the plateaus of the Flat Tops, then the jagged points of the Gore Range, and the massive alpine peaks of the Never Summers. Colorado’s such a special place. I’m lucky to have spent my entire life in such a diversely beautiful place!
After digging a snow profile and analyzing the different weak layers in the snowpack, we decided to ski on some more conservative slopes instead of the wide open bowls off of Walton’s summit. Not everyone who ventures out into the backcountry is prepared for the danger’s of avalanches. So be sure you’re properly educated and check the state’s avalanche report (avalanche.state.co.us) before you leave home! Don’t become another statistic!
Finally, it was time to slap the board back together and get some turns in. While I only took less than twenty turns that day, the great snow and beautiful day made it all worthwhile. When going out in the backcountry, the day becomes less about skiing or boarding and more about enjoying the solitude and sights. It’s not often enough that people are able to escape the chaos of civilized life, and the feeling of being the only person for miles is one that will always have me coming back for more.
We arrived back at the trail head with tired muscles and labored breaths, but knowing it was fully worth it. The day had come together magically between the sun, snow, and sights. We were ready to return to the comforts of our hectic society, but only so that one day we could again escape from it.