Spring officially starts at 4:45 p.m. today.  Steamboat’s bears are out of hibernation.  A rumble of thunder and a flash of lightning crossed the horizon a couple of nights ago — thankfully  blessing us with a dusting of snow.  And Buddy, Skeeter and Loris Werner’s illustrious ski boots stamped in the concrete foundation at the Bud Werner Memorial Library have emerged from beneath the pile of winter’s snow shoveling.

Ice fisherman, your days are numbered. The mighty Yampa is pushing aside the ice, and we’re seeing the first signs of open water on local lakes. Fly-fishing season will be upon us soon.

Stagecoach spring melt

At Fifth Street in downtown Steamboat, the Yampa River is flowing at 418 cubic feet per second this morning. That’s two and a half times the median water flow for March 20, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s historic water measurements. I expect Steamboat’s avid kayakers might start shredding the re-emerging C Hole rapid when temperatures edge near 60 this weekend.

C Hole on the Yampa

A couple of grey days have broken way for a cloudless sky. Last night’s brilliant star show means it also got cold, so yesterday’s slush started out  frozen this morning. The key is to follow the sun as it works its way over the mountain, from Sunshine, to Sundown, to Storm Peak.

sun rising over Storm Peak

Have a leisurely breakfast, whether that’s a $5 breakfast sandwich with a bloody mary at the Umbrella Bar or a decadent maple bacon donut with a latte at the top of the gondola.  There’s no inversion today, but temperatures are rising fast. We gained 15 degrees during my morning ski. The sun is creating some fun sugar on top of the snow, especially below Thunderhead.

groomer

This time of year, we have the great fortune of skiing on well-tended snow. Coverage is fantastic all over the mountain. It is the season to enjoy on-piste skiing.  Steamboat’s skilled groomers create and re-create snow that is smooth and skiable every single day, unlike the unnavigable crust that is haunting the backcountry right now.  Thank goodness for our snow farmers who make the season long and keep the terrain fun while we embrace firm mornings and mushy afternoons.  And after we carve it up, they effectively rake and hoe it back into place cultivating beautiful fields of mountain snow where we can plant our turns again the next day. This is the magic of spring skiing on the mountain.

On the après front this spring weekend,  get out your leg warmers and let your big hair fly. The sun-drenched Saturday concert features the Six Million Dollar Band.  This is vintage ’80s New Wave music: Tears for Fears, Duran Duran, Simple Minds, Depeche Mode — basically my high school mixtape rocking Gondola Square.

This time around, I’ll skip the towering Aqua Net bangs and opt for sun screen instead of slathering on the baby oil. Rock on, spring!

 

Jennie Lay, Telemark skier

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