It is being called “The Winter that Wasn’t,” with this combination of warmer than normal temperatures and lack of snow. I know it has been especially difficult for skiers and backcountry enthusiasts who are missing their winter-sports fix. The bigger concern, however, is the lack of moisture and the myriad of problems that will cause if the cycle doesn’t change.
In the 35 years that I have lived in Durango, I have seen drier than normal winters but not one quite this bad. Others who have lived here longer remember the winter of 1976-77 that was much like this. In those days, we did not have the advances in snow-making capability, so many ski areas were only open for a few weeks.
Skiing, though not fabulous, is happening and the area is doing a great job keeping as many runs open and in good shape as possible. People are getting out and enjoying their time on the slopes and taking full advantage of what is available.
Complaining about the weather is useless and depressing, especially since we have no control over that element in our lives. Making the best of this unusual winter is a better direction to take, as it will likely change eventually.
On the plus side, the lack of snow and ice has definitely extended the trail running season, and I am taking full advantage of that perk as are many other runners, hikers and mountain bikers.
Winter trails, even with the absence of snow, feel different; they are more peaceful, less crowded and the views are more expansive.
Admittedly, I am a summer girl. I like the minimalism of summer and the feel of the warm sun on my back. As a runner, heading out the door with little gear and hours and hours of daylight is my idea of freedom and joy.
Continuing to run trails regularly is one bonus of this dry winter. The slow pace, low impact delight of interacting with nature away from busy streets and noisy neighborhoods. I do miss the white beauty, sparkle and shine of past winters snow packed trails. But I haven’t lost hope that winter snows are coming, after all winter is only one third over and many of us can remember years past when February and March brought enough snow to make up for many dry spells.
In the mean time, I plan to take full advantage of what we have right here in our back yard. Whether you hike, bike or run, there are miles and miles of wonderful trails in and around Durango to keep everyone occupied until the weather decides to change.
Please remember to obey all the Division of Wildlife trail closures this season. Even without much snow in the high country, the animals are here and need their winter habitat to thrive.
Get out and play and banish those winter doldrums, but keep doing your snow dances in hopes that the weather gods will decide that winter will still make an appearance this year.
Reach Marjorie Brinton at firstname.lastname@example.org