The morning of the second day - still snowing. But I wanted to venture out on cross country skis and enjoy the storm...
Benson Ridge Road - a lone animal track points the way uphill. The snow is deep. Breaking trail is slow going.
The snow is very sticky, even though it's in the 20's at 9,500 feet. The bare aspen branches are holding a surprising amount of snow.
The conifers...I'm surprised I don't see more of them bent over from the snow load.
After one hour I broke trail all of one mile (and also had to climb). I turned around and followed my track back home. Visibility from falling and blowing snow was not good. Especially because when you cross country ski you sweat, and it's very hard to keep glasses or goggles clear in the cold damp air of a storm.
Later that afternoon the snow tapered off. I had a big snow removal job ahead of me, and I started by making one cut in the driveway. That took one hour and one tank of gas.
My best friend for the next couple days of snow blowing....
The snow thrower's scoop is 24 inches high. Some parts off the driveway were deeper than that.
But as the day ended, the colors of late afternoon transitioned to sunset. I may never see a view like this again from my bedroom window. Sierra Blanca 30 miles to the north was living up to its name.
It cleared off after sunset, and it was a full moon. Such snowy nights are blindingly bright. Makes it hard to sleep. Especially because I was still on generator power...outages were very widespread up here with the snow loading of trees and power lines...a recipe for disaster.
Next morning was clear and calm. This is my neighbor's house with the full moon setting behind it. The sky is purple at the horizon...we are just a few minutes before sunrise, and the earth's shadow is still visible.
Clear and calm, but temperature was in the mid 20's. Not good. I wanted to ski Benson Ridge again...go far...but this is southern New Mexico. Once the sun gets up and the temperature climbs...that wonderful powder turns to gloppy mashed potatoes. That's hell for cross country skiing. An early start was called for. I shoveled some food in my gut and headed out before 8AM.
9,600FT on Benson Ridge. Deer/elk tracks all over the place. They are looking for food. And, they broke trail for me and made the going a bit easier.
To the southwest I could glimpse the Organ mountains next to Las Cruces. They also showed fresh snow. But the highest peak in that range is lower than Benson Ridge!
A fox or coyote made this curving track.
After almost three hours of breaking trail in calf deep snow (it was knee deep if I took off the skis), I decided to turn around. This view looks to the southeast. That area did not appear to get as much snow.
The return would be easier - mostly dropping elevation, and back over my tracks...but it was warming up...soon above freezing. I had to stop several times to re-wax the skis and scrape off ice that would accumulate on the steel edges. All told, it was a five hour day on skis. Not too bad for a place that's only a 90 minute drive from Texas.
Two days later - another four inches of snow, and single digit temperatures. Time for more skiing!
The moon is no longer full, but is up higher in the west in the early morning. You can see that compared to the fresh snow in the foreground, the moon's surface is a dark gray.
This is not my sitzmark from falling. It's where an elk bedded down for the night. That strikes me as odd. It was very cold, and this is in an open area. It would have been warmer to hole up under a tree.
The new snow did not stick to the trees, but they did receive a thick coating of frost.