While it’s not officially spring in the Yampa Valley, it sure is starting to feel like it. Spring will officially begin with the vernal equinox on March 20th at 4:45pm (MST) to be exact, but in all reality, it has arrived. Some people may curse the departure of winter and still desperately hope for more days filled with an abundance of Champagne Powder®. (It could still happen. I recall skinning up the mountain at the end of April one year after an impressive late-season dump.) But as winter fades and powder days become a fond memory, there is still an abundance of fun and various activities in Steamboat to keep just about anyone smiling, grinning and dancing in the beauty of spring.
Today, I enjoyed a quiet, peaceful morning on the mountain by myself. I stuck to groomers, which is what you most certainly want to do until it warms up and the snow takes on a softer, slushier texture (usually around midday). Exploring different parts of the mountain, I found the best groomed runs to be right around mid-mountain and below Christie Peak Express.
Normally, runs on Sunshine Peak are the best early morning groomers this time of year, but with some high cloud cover this morning, those runs were still a bit firm and needing to be dressed in sunlight. I did find some softer, grippy corduroy on Tomahawk, but for the most part, I would say upper Vagabond and Vogue were my picks of the morning. The corduroy on upper Vagabond (until you hit Betwixt) was perfection — soft, super carvy and very forgiving. The corduroy on Vogue was a different kind of perfection — creamy, a touch slushy and again, very forgiving. I felt like I was riding on soft, fluffy crystals. While I enjoyed my morning on the mountain, I have to say, I really, really, really enjoyed my afternoon on the mountain yesterday.
Thanks to Dave for covering my Straight Talk report yesterday, I was able to enjoy some afternoon birthday skiing with some of my favorite ladies. Pick of the day yesterday was Longhorn off Pony. It was so much fun we did it twice and considered going a third time. It was that perfect, slushy spring snow that we start dreaming about once the powder day dreams start to subside. Lower mountain runs like Vagabond and Heavenly Daze were perfectly slushy, as well. Mavericks Superpipe was also the perfect slushiness for anyone to give it a try. Sunny afternoons with friends on the mountain are one of my very favorite things about Steamboat.
Besides riding on quiet, peaceful mornings and on sunny, fun afternoons, there is an abundance of other types of fun in Steamboat this time of year. Last Sunday, my hubby and I did something we’ve never done before: We snowshoed from the top of Thunderhead to Four Points Lodge (via Chisholm Trail) with our little guy. The hike was fun, the views were amazing and the reward — grabbing lunch and a beer at Four Points — was the best part! Four Points is the happening place these days, and I’ve been beyond impressed with their delicious food. I’m talking bison burger with caramelized onions and a white truffle aioli with a kale/quinoa salad on the side – YUM! You can also snowshoe on Duster over to Rendezvous Saddle Lodge and enjoy great food, a large deck and a lot of sun this time of year.
Free concerts and the apres scene at Steamboat’s base area are a staple in many locals’ Saturday afternoons. Yesterday, Nahko and Medicine for the People put on an awesome show, perfect to continue with birthday celebrations, getting to dance with my big guy and my little guy at the same time. Check out the Bud Light Rocks the Boat free concert series. Night skiing this time of year is a lot of fun. The hours are 6-9pm Thursday through Monday. Sunset Happy Hours on Thursday evenings are a blast. Taking the kiddos to Gondola Square is entertaining for all.
As winter fades and spring arrives, there is an abundance of fun, and I hope you are able to get out there and enjoy what makes you smile, what makes you grin and what makes you dance in the beauty of spring.
Erin Campbell, snowboarder