Mountains of Gratitude

The Yellowstone Ski Festival is in full swing as Thanksgiving Day opens with another sunny, crisp morning in West Yellowstone.  Naturally, the activity of the day is nordic (cross-country) skiing, with an array of trail choices from the extensive Rendezvous Ski Trails system, to the Madison River loops, to a single groomed classic track along the road leading through the gates and into Yellowstone National Park.  You cannot go wrong with whatever option you choose, as ideal conditions continue.

The road into Yellowstone National Park proved to be a lovely ski to kick off a day of gratitude. Treetops sparkled with frost, and the snow lining the single-track trail glistened like diamonds in the sun’s reflection.  An eagle sat perched at the top of a tree, searching for a snack with its eyes darting to and fro.  Skiers called out joyfully in passing, “Happy Thanksgiving!”, “Enjoy the day!”, “Isn’t it beautiful?!”  And a short distance into the park, just off the main road on a turnout, was a view that required a few moments of silence and awe — frosted treetops as far as the eye could see, reaching to the snow-capped mountains, with the river gurgling below.  What a blessing to enjoy the view, appreciate good health, and revel in the ability to savor a morning ski in a magnificent setting.

Yellowstone National Park overlook

Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Day to all!

Ciao! ~ Kat

What a View From Deja View!

Not sure the days could get any prettier here.  Good snow, warm temps, clear blue sky — life is good.

Yesterday, I took advantage of the midday hours, when the faster skiers and training groups head in for lunch and break before their afternoon ski session.  The seasoned skiers were coming back in from their morning sessions raving about the incredibly clear views.  I just had to see one of them for myself.  After a delightful ski with a couple of my favorite women, whose sons and daughters also are on the trip for the week of training and Yellowstone Ski Festival events, the tease of the partial mountain view convinced me to branch off and slowly tackle the Deja View trail.

Rendezvous Trails biathlon range

The temperatures have been warm, but the snow still clung to the trees, like a classic postcard scene.  The empty trail beckoned.

Start of Deja View trail, Rendezvous Trails

Blue and white complemented each other with their brilliant extremes.

Deja View trail, Rendezvous Trails

The silence was deafening — pausing on the trail, I could hear only the occasional drop of snow from a branch high above, no wind in the trees, no birds, just me and the trail.  It was wonderful.

Start of Deja View trail, Rendezvous Trails

Did I mention that I am not a hard-core skier?  I am content to shuffle through the woods, taking photos, pausing to take in the scenery and enjoy the solitude, or revel in the camaraderie of good friends on the trails together, while laughing and chatting enough that we cannot afford to get winded.

So, as I skied along Deja View, not that it wasn’t pretty, but figuring I already had skied at least half of the 7.6 km trail, I admit to saying out loud, “Where the hell is the view?”  Perhaps Mother Nature would answer?

Deja View trail, Rendezvous Trails

I almost took a cutoff back down to the trailhead, after climbing and descending a couple of hills that were relatively challenging for this novice.  But, the effort was more than worth the reward.

What a view!

View from near the end of Deja View trail

I enjoyed a few moments of solitude, taking a mental picture before pulling out the camera.  And then a couple of friendly college-aged women came along, and we traded favors, taking each others’ pictures to help preserve the moment.

View from near the end of Deja View trail.

Let me say it again.  Life is good.

Ciao! ~ Kat

The Quiet Before the Storm

The Yellowstone Ski Festival draws thousands of skiers to this small town just outside the gate to Yellowstone National Park.  As the week goes on, the population builds, but the weekend before the official start of the Festival is still quiet and peaceful on the trails.

Rendezvous Trails, West Yellowstone
This peaceful scene has an expiration date in the near future as thousands of skiers descend on West Yellowstone later this week.

I started the day by fulfilling my role as the embarrassing mom — “Son, did you put on sunscreen?”  Response:  “Mom, no one else did.”  . .  . as his friend next to him says, “I did.” . . . which resulted in begrudging sunscreen application on the exposed parts of the face.  Mission accomplished, so on to my NaBloPoMo post of the day before heading out on the trails.

Rendezvous Trails, West Yellowstone

After yesterday’s almost 24-hour travel marathon to arrive in West Yellowstone, the sunny, warm day was an undeniable invitation to check out the trails.  A short walk to snow, then skis are on, making their way to the Rendezvous Trails trailhead.  I am content on my waxless touring skis, peacefully gliding along the groomed trails with snow-tufted trees reflecting the late afternoon sun. (That sounds so much more appealing than huffing and puffing in the higher altitude than I am used to, along with a body that is not quite in the shape I had hoped for this week’s activities!)

Forest along the Rendezvous Trails

Another parent friend familiar with the trails generously shows me a few options to explore during the week, and I enjoy the first ski of the season, leaving the bare trails at home in Minnesota behind. I take periodic breaks to snap a photo of our team’s skiers as they ski by or as they stop to regroup.

Snow-covered trees off the Rendezvous Trails

Nordic (cross-country) skiing is a sport for all levels to enjoy, a way to embrace the inevitable cold and snow that is part of our lives in northern climates.

Towering pines on the Rendezvous Trails

Today, the morning frost is disappearing from the bushes and trees, as the sun warms the temperatures from their early morning below-zero chill.  Another good day to enjoy the trails, admire the snow-capped pines, and take in that clean mountain air.

Ciao! ~ Kat