I posted more than a year ago, seeking suggestions for the perfect beginner backcountry ski touring trip. Got a lot of helpful responses, including a few warnings that I'd probably die in an avalanche. I appreciated all the feedback. So thought I'd finally post a follow-up about what I ended up doing, and perhaps there'll be some info that could benefit someone else in a similar position.
I ended up in CO, mainly because that was a relatively feasible drive from MI, and went around in a big loop, from Pagosa Springs, to Durango, Ouray, Leadville, all the way up to Rocky Mountain National Park, which was the most beautiful area I saw. Stopped along the way at a lot of nice spots, mostly for day trips.
I was thinking I would drive up forest service roads as far as I could get, camp, and then ski from there...but it turns out they gate the roads at the bottom during the winter. There were cheap motels in most places, though.
Possibly I went earlier than I should have—first two weeks of April. Got some fresh snow. That made trailbreaking tough, and reduced the distance I could travel, and the areas I could safely get into.
On the plus side, I did get to ski in some powder, which is as nice as all the real skiers say it is. But I never found the easy, safe corn snow that I've heard about.
It was very windy, most of the time, which made being above treeline unpleasant. I guess that's pretty common, that time of year.
My mindset, and perhaps vocabulary, is somewhat different from the other skiers I met out there. “Backcountry” seems to mean going with a group of friends, to a well-known spot, trudging up a skin trench, and skiing back down to the road on really steep, densely treed slopes interspersed with cliff bands. Looks like a lot of fun, but even if I were a good enough skier I would never try those lines without a local leading the way.
But when I said I'm a “cross-country” skier people would direct me to a touring center with groomed trails, and that isn't what I was looking for either.
But I did stumble on some beautiful tours, with easy slopes, gorgeous wilderness, no snowmobiles around, etc—everything I was hoping for.
This spring I'm heading out to Glacier National Park, etc, and going later—beginning of May. Maybe I'll hike for hours through brush and scree and get to steep suncupped couloirs that I can't ski. But I'm planning on spring wildflowers down low, and miles of easy, consolidated snowfields and awesome scenery up above.