Thursday, January 12, 2017

Cold Nordic Center

Weather:  29ยบ, windy, overcast, cold. Some light flurries

About this Hike:  I love snowshoeing the Flagstaff Nordic Center (FNC). In past years I've experienced a range of conditions from so warm that we're trying to snowshoe on the waning white stuff, to fresh powder transforming the ponderosa forest into a winter wonderland.

FNC Adventure 2017 was sort of a mix between the two above-mentioned conditions.  It was the coldest, gloomiest day I've ever snowshoed here. There was a biting wind. While I warmed up once I got going, I was also grateful to be bundled up and have hand warmers. However, Flagstaff had been warm in the days leading up to today.  In fact, downtown Flag had no snow, just bare ground.  On the drive up US 180 I began to get very nervous we were wasting a trip, despite checking the daily trail conditions and the webcam prior to leaving Sedona.

It wasn't until right before the FNC (~8000 feet) that the ground began to snow a solid base of white.
All trails branch from the FNC Lodge, and at this starting point the snow was icy and crusty.  In fact, these were the conditions on most of the lower trails, although the trails were well groomed as usual by FNC staff.  As we ascended on Lava Trail (several hundred feet of elevation gain) the snow became significantly deeper and turned to powder. It was snowshoe heaven up there. A light, misty snow began to fall and the ponderosas were covered in white. Heavy clouds masked the usual spectacular views of Humphrey's and the San Francisco Peaks.

I love the FNC. I feel safe snowshoeing there. With ample parking, a lodge, international Nordic symbols decorating the trees, cell reception, and well-mapped trails, it's convenient.  However, I've covered most every snowshoe trail in that place. The ponderosas and aspens, while magnificent, are repetitive scenery.  I'd like to branch out and snowshoe (not to mention hike in the summertime) in the White Mountains next.  Or perhaps I need to learn to cross-country ski...there's still a lot of FNC I haven't seen from the ski trails...

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