Looking from Aspen Vista toward Santa Fe

It was bound to happen sooner or later, and over this past weekend the Southern Rockies made their annual abrupt bump down from autumn to winter. Temperatures plunged, and Santa Fe awoke to a dusting of snow on Sunday morning. And as if I had never seen snow before, I had to drive up the mountain to have a look. I made it up to Aspen Vista, the viewing area and trailhead for the popular walk – or snowshoe, or cross-country ski – up to Tesuque Ridge, where I parked and got out, only to discover it was FAR too cold to enjoy much of anything outside the car.

But it sure was beautiful in a wintery way. About 5 inches of snow had fallen and gusts of wind shook clouds of glittering ice crystals from the spruce trees. The overnight storm was still breaking up over the mountains so shadow alternated with sunlight as I watched. The change in conditions from only a few weeks ago was striking. This weekend:

And just a few weeks earlier:

This bodes well for skiing this winter. It’s time to start checking the Ski Santa Fe website for condition updates. And it looks like I need to dust off the snowshoes out in the garage!

An invitation for winter recreation