Bright and fresh as a morning could be, fast, warm, uncrowded. Upper mountain is glamorous wrapped in sunshine yet plenty cool for great snow. People are all smiles and sweaters at the base area. It feels like coming home. The weekend will be festively busy and springy as ever.

Like a weight lifted, the mountain is uncrowded and family style again. On the gondola, myself and three other lifetime Steamboat skiers enjoyed a chat about our lives on snow. By coincidence, they knew each other from long ago. We also talked about the use of ski technology, FitBits and SkiTracks for tracing your days on the mountain. I’m partial to a paperback book and an iPod.

The Valley.

The valley.

The base area is a busy place this morning, with promotions for Cody’s Challenge, the Noosa Nab contest, Red Ball Express and the Giant Panda Guerrilla Dub Squad show.  Grab a yogurt and participate in mountain-wide scavenger hunt with Steamboat’s sweetest partner at the Noosa tent. Or check out Cody’s Challenge, a unique ski race that tests endurance by following paths both up and down the the mountain for skiers on AT and Telemark gear. The race raises money for the Cody St. John Foundation in memory of a Steamboat ski patroller. If endurance athletics aren’t your style, you can still do good today by purchasing a Red Ball ticket and watching it race down Stampede at the base of the mountain at 3pm. There are prizes up to $2,500 at stake, and all proceeds go to Routt County Rotary Youth Programs. Springalicious!

Moose!

Moose!

Terrifying and serene, I found these two as I raced down Right-O-Way toward the base area. A startled mamma moose is a dangerous thing, so I stopped as quickly as I could and waited patiently for them to move on. When you see wildlife on the mountain, leave it be, and don’t ever move toward it. Call information or ski patrol if you feel that you need guidance.

Winter.

 

The Final Snow of Winter

The trees have gone black, to spring-like hummus,

moving through their stages with the sun,

tidal temperatures

and liquid going solid every night.

Death, selection, life anew.

And then paint wet white she does,

Nature inevitably rains and rots and snows

on the deep black branches,

on the exposed southern hillsides,

on the damn scoria.

And the world then is black

and white.

 

Willow Fitzgerald, Telemark skier

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