It’s cold and crisp and skiing like full-tilt winter  in Steamboat. When my car thermometer read -5 as I crossed the Yampa River this morning, I sent out a small prayer for a famous Steamboat inversion. No such luck. Temps were lurking around 5 as I reached the top of the mountain.

Storm Peak Face to Sunset. is smooth cruising.

Know what that means? The snow from earlier this week is holding out beautifully. It’s dry and soft. The groomers are fast and sweet. The leftovers in the trees are powdery. There are still untracked stashes in the aspens and the well-spaced dark timber. Don’t fear venturing in — the goods remain great.

Another long groom on Three O’Clock.

From the top of the gondola, Vagabond to Surprise is my old standby to start the day. It’s the perfect combo of groomer to three short pitches of bumps. Today did not disappoint — Vagabond was fast and Surprise was forgiving.

Soft bumps down the center, sweet leftovers on the side of Surprise

Storm Peak face to Sunset to Moonlight….shazam. That cold perfect pitch of snow is fast, flat and super fun. Off piste, nice soft leftovers lurk along the sides of Two O’Clock.

Three O’Clock was groomed again top to bottom. It’s hard to resist corduroy on this run when you’re expecting a long minefield of bumps. Are we setting some kind of new record for grooming this run this year? Seems like it to me.

Conditions are holding true all the way down. Ted’s Ridge was every bit as fast and fun as my trip down Sunset.

Blue skies with cold temps

Here’s a little Steamboat art history story to close out the day….

Snow drawings have a great history in Steamboat. Volunteer artists stomp patterns in the fresh snow with snowshoes to create mesmerizing spiral patterns. Over the years, we’ve made them on Rabbit Ears Pass, over Lake Catamount and through hay meadows near the Hayden airport. Many of these impermanent installations have received national and international attention. They’re beautiful works of public art — and they disappear as soon as it snows.

Last weekend, about 40 locals set out once again to create a work of peace and artistry on the Yampa Valley landscape. This time, we worked the hay meadow on The Nature Conservancy’s historic Carpenter Ranch, directly along the Yampa River and across from the airport in Hayden.

With bluebird skies and two drones in the air, photographers captured some incredible photos of this snow drawing. The videos and photos are being unveiled tonight at 6:30 p.m., downtown at the Bud Werner Memorial Library, right before a free talk by prize-winning journalist Florence Williams, author of the new book The Nature Fix.

In the mean time, here’s one teaser from last Sunday’s community snow drawing, “Finding Peace in Nature.” Enjoy the view.

Oh, the beauty! Steamboat’s 2017 community snow drawing on the historic Carpenter ranch. Photo courtesy The Nature Conservancy.

Peace out, skiers and riders.

Jennie Lay, Telemark skier

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