The close of a ski season should be treated like nothing less than a sacred national holiday. A three-day holiday. It starts today, Steamboat.

Cha-ching. That’s me, clocking out of mundane business and clocking in for one last blast of ski mountain immersion. Last night, when I pulled down my husband and my tangled collection of 53 historic ski passes, not only did I get a great laugh at the expense of all our goofiness, but I realized we really have earned our keep as ski bums.

Skiers and riders, we’ve played hard this season. A lot of exciting turns have been made in a lot of crazy different kinds of snow. We’ve seen wonderful and weird, but snow is snow, and we’re always grateful for it. Give thanks to Mother Nature, Ullr, Buddha, Buddy or wherever else you direct your gratitude for the 231.75 inches of snow we received this season – three of which came yesterday.

spring cord

The groomers have been kind to us, especially with yesterday’s sugar coating of freshies. That stockpile of snow that used to be a terrain park on Mavericks – now it’s just a bunch of well-covered rollers feeding you into the base area. Obstacles abound on many runs at the bottom of the mountain, so be vigilant. Stay up high all afternoon, where it still looks like winter (even if the bears might not agree), and soft snow will prevail. Long groomers are where it’s at: Rainbow, Buddy’s Run, High Noon, Flintlock and Heavenly Daze on down to See Me.

For those of us who live in the mountains, a ski season is a mark of time – a season of our lives. When a ski season nears its final days, we all get a little nostalgic. Call it Steamboat Ski Area separation anxiety. No matter how many times we hike or bike it this summer, we always pine for the winter version of our mountain.

If one last gigantic miracle storm were to roll in this weekend, you would ski that pow from the first gondola to the last chair. More likely, you will have a tan to take away from skiing in the sun’s glare and melting snow.

Wear crazy costumes. Ski in a skirt. Stop often to chat with friends because we all know there is something eerie about the change in seasons – how you see that girl every day all winter long, but then your summer trajectory takes you on a path where you scarcely see her for months. Savor your time on the mountain this weekend, and make sure you get an extra date chair with your sweetie.

On these mid-April days, the morning snow is predictably firm and the afternoon snow is slushy. It’s all part of the weird and wonderful joy of spring skiing. Personally, I have always loved mashed potatoes on the mountain, and cold snowy springs of years past sometimes make me feel like I’m missing out on an April ritual.

As an unofficial ski town holiday, we’ve got a serious party on our hands this weekend. Steamboat’s afternoon concerts in Gondola Square are pure badassery: bluegrass with the Infamous Stringdusters on Saturday and reggae with Steel Pulse on Sunday.  Plus, tomorrow morning heralds one of the best reasons of the year to dress up and get your silly on: the Cardboard Classic.

Clock out and enjoy the holiday, Steamboat. Soak up the greening Yampa Valley and the frosted Flat Tops Wilderness from Broadway’s picnic table. Snarf down your last slice of pizza at Rendezvous. Savor your bloody mary at Four Points. Turns, turns, turns. Then I’ll see you ski bums back on the slopes for Scholarship Day on November 25 because no matter how tired of snow you might be by mid-April, you know for certain you’ll be salivating for it again by November.

greening of the Yampa Valley

With that, I’m signing off for the ski season, Straight Talk. I’m officially on my Springalicious staycation. Sunny skiing, groovy music and cold beer – the perfect trifecta. Have a mighty fine summer!

Jennie Lay

Jennie Lay, Telemark skier

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