Taking a year off from insane Thanksgiving air travel, Dorinna and I drove down to Southern Colorado to ski at Wolf Creek. Wolf Creek is known for having the highest snowfall of any Colorado ski area, and especially for good early season snow.

On Thanksgiving day, we had respectable conditions: packed powder on the groomed runs. Wolf Creek has alot of great glades skiing (one entire lift serves nothing but tree trails). Conditions here were variable- where people had skiied it was packed powder. If you went off the tracks you had a mix of fluffy knee deep powder- and hard sun crust- and everything in between. Good practice in the backcountry. The picture below is from the top, but is NOT a ski run- there were no rocks on the ski runs.

Wolf Creek is really in the middle of nowhere. It took almost 7 hours to get there, and after skiing we had to drive another 20 minutes over Wolf Creek Pass to the town of Pagosa Springs. Pagosa is mostly a tourist town at this point, with a small but nice downtown. While I wasn’t able to find any turkey, I got by with a steak dinner.

Our early season ski legs weren’t in very good shape, so the next day we slept in, went out for lunch, and explored the town. That afternoon we visited the Pagosa Hot Springs. The main spring is a scalding 145 degrees, but a resort manages a set of cooler pools next to the river. Temps in the pools ranged from 92 to 108, although if you count the river the low value drops to 35 or so. And yes, I count the river, as I briefly dunked myself partway in, and then dashed for a hot pool. Ahhhhh… A very relaxing way to spend the afternoon.

Friday night it snowed 4 fresh inches, so Saturday’s ski conditions were fantastic! The trails were good, but we spent almost the entire day skiing the trees for the untouched powder. Dorinna skiied her first double black diamond run…

Sunday we packed up and headed for home. The drive was incredibly scenic- back over Wolf Creek Pass, through the San Luis Valley, framed by the Sange de Cristos, through South Park, and back over one final mountain pass to the plains. We made it home in just under 6 hours.

Hot springs in the early morning:
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