Fresh tracks at Wolf Creek |

Fresh tracks at Wolf Creek

Dan Davis

The white stuff has been dumping, the inches are piling up and the Vail Valley has once again been converted into a skier’s Mecca. This early shift into winter has transformed the local population into a pack of jonesing powder addicts scrambling to dust off old gear and find some turns. The local scene of hiking Vail and Beaver Creek and poaching early season freshies can provide a temporary fix. Or, for the pleasure of lift access, a snow fiend can battle the huge crowds of Front Rangers hammering the limited terrain at Loveland, Copper Mountain and Keystone.But for a true early season score free of crowds, there is Wolf Creek ski area, where steep powder turns, short lift lines and moderately priced cheese burgers await.Wolf Creek is located between Pagosa Springs and South Fork, Colo., and receives an annual average snowfall of 465 inches. The mountain now boasts a 45-inch base with 100 percent of the terrain to be opened by Saturday, Nov. 9. For the price of a $38 lift ticket (which will increase to $43 starting Nov. 9) there are plenty of beginner to expert trails to get those rusty legs whipped back into shape. And Alberta Peak is right for those who have been doing their shoulder season ski conditioning. This short but strenuous hike to access the expert terrain of Alberta Peak blocks out the gapers and keeps the tracks fresh.After hiking for powder and riding all day have turned your early season ski legs to mush, the hot mineral springs at Pagosa Springs await to unknot those sore muscles.Wolf Creek is where powder hounds travel to scratch the early season itch by riding mid-winter conditions. If you’re tired of the monkey on your back, replace it with the Wolf and steal your face shot.To contact Wolf Creek Ski Area, call (800) SKI-WOLF. q

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