This is a big week for me. Twenty years ago, I walked off an airplane and first set my eyes on the beautiful Yampa Valley. It was April 1995. I was an Ohio high school student, it was my first visit to Colorado, and there was a BIG storm on the way. That storm came in, and with it, the Yampa Valley Curse struck me as I learned to ski Steamboat’s famous Champagne Powder®. Local lore has it that once you have experienced the Yampa Valley, you will be cast under a spell to return again and again for the rest of your life. If you move here, the legend is that you will never find a place as great as the Yampa Valley and you will feel the need to return. I am blessed with this curse and know that the Yampa Valley has my heart forever. I must have known that I’d be back, as I have been carrying this lift ticket around the country with me for 20 years!
Today, I find myself on the top of Mt. Werner gazing out at the valley below. Hundreds of ski days under my belt and still struck with the Yampa Valley Curse on this last week of the season, my 13th living in Northern Colorado or Southeast Wyoming.
I embarked on a top-to-bottom celebratory run today. A freshly groomed Storm Peak was crisp this morning and on each turn my skis carved across sugary ripples. The sun rising at my back cast long shadows in front of me.
With the Thunderhead Express lift closed for the season, I decided to go back up Burgess Creek and enjoy the good snow coverage at the top. The wind blew across my cheeks as I raced down upper Vagabond. I made fast, rhythmic turns as I enjoyed the solitude of the mountain. I rested on Betwixt and turned it up again on Eagles Nest before meeting the smiling faces at the base.
Knowing that the season is very quickly winding down, I looked up at the mountain and took one last celebratory run down Heavenly Daze. This quintessential Steamboat run has great coverage and softens up perfectly at about noon. Even though it was firm early this morning, my day on the mountain is not complete without a Daze lap. I made intentional “April turns” like they were my last of the season. Taking the time to soak it all up, I breathed in the fresh mountain air, listened to the birds chirp, and took in the views of the Flat Tops. Come November, I will be longing for this scene. Until then, see you on the trails!
Meghan Lutterman, Alpine skier