The middle of the winter can be tough. It’s dark. It’s cold. The bright cheer of the holidays is over.

But I find a quiet beauty in the dark early mornings this time of year. Admittedly my enjoyment dims when it is -20 degrees out. This year, however, has been quite warm up here in the mountains of Colorado.

Puck, not so patiently waiting for me to get ready.

I am an undisputed morning person, so I am often up hours before the sun. Which means that Puck and I are often starting our morning excursions in the dark. Puck is a bit afraid of the dark; occasionally he convinces me there is a moose or a heffalump nearby, causing my heart to race unnecessarily. But mostly we just enjoy the peace; the blissful feeling of having the world to ourselves.

One of our favorite things to do on our 0-dark-30 excursions is to skin up to the top of the ski resort. We reach the top as the sun is coming over the mountains; on a clear morning, this is a spectacular sight. It takes my breath away (although this could also be the 11,000 foot elevation…). I will try to take a photo next time if my hands are not frozen.

Ski buddies!

This morning we set out on our first resort ski of the season. At 6:00, with the exception of the resort operators coming to work, we were the only ones around. We usually encounter a few snowmobiles (as said operators head to the top) and groomers, but the majority of the time the only sounds are my skis and Puck’s paws on the snow. And both our panting.

We reached the top but the dense clouds obscured any view of the mountains. It was still beautiful to be up there. I stripped my skins as Puck waited patiently. He has learned to take advantage of our downtime – although my pace up is slow, I have a distinct advantage on the way down. Usually.

Today was the first time I was going to attempt to actually ski and not just snowplow my way down. The runs were beautifully groomed – hallelujah. But as I turned my skis downhill my brain immediately screamed “SNOWPLOW DAMNIT!”. Which I obediently did.

I finally mustered enough courage to bring my skis into parallel and attempt a turn. It was successful. Another? Yee haw! Suddenly I was actually skiing down the slope – granted, I was making long slow turns like a beginner, but it felt great. I gained confidence as we made our way down and my leg felt solid. It will take time before I am not constantly on guard – the brain does not forget so easily – but it’s great to be making strides.