This morning, I awoke to a beautifully dense blanket of fog covering the valley floor. It was almost as if I could walk across the fog from my house to the mountain… but instead, I drove through the mystical wonder. I saw a red fox delicately trotting across a snowy meadow, I admired the iconic white barn on River Road with the mountain peeking out from behind it and I noticed the icy, frosty cottonwood trees, such a beautiful contrast to the morning fog hugging the banks of the Yampa River. I felt a sense of peace and solitude as I drove through the morning valley fog.
I rode up the gondola with an adorable Aussie family visiting Steamboat for two weeks. They come here once a year and love Steamboat for its friendly town and great ski mountain. They were here for the extremely frigid week of New Year’s and have been here for the past week of spring-like weather… or “Springuary” as another Straight Talker deemed it. It’s truly amazing how much the weather can change from one week to the next. While the bitterly cold New Year’s week made for spectacularly sunny yet very crisp, clear days, this past week has presented much more mild temps with again, an abundant amount of sunshine.
From the gondola, I headed straight for a nicely groomed Ted’s Ridge run. At the top of Ted’s, I looked down to notice the lifting valley fog and looked up to notice the quickly moving clouds, occasionally hiding the early morning sun, and felt a sense of clarity… a special gift the mountain always seems to give me. Thank you, mountain. Ted’s proved to be a great first run with its grippy yet soft and forgiving corduroy, a testament that the warmer temps from the past week have given us all a nice little treat when it comes to the groomers.
At the top of Storm Peak a gentle fog momentarily rested on Buddy’s Run while rays of sunshine coated Storm Peak South. I took a moment to notice the shifting fog, the dancing clouds and the sun peeking through the trees, and again, felt an amazing sense of clarity. I rode the top portion of a groomed Buddy’s before cutting over on Calf Roper to Rainbow. En route, I took a moment to admire how the sun dressed Four Points Lodge and contrasted nicely with stunning valley views. If you haven’t visited the newer Four Points Lodge (opened at the start of the 2013-2014 season), you really should. The deck is pretty much, well, spectacular… and on warmer, sunny days, that’s the place to be when you need a quick break from the slopes.
I continued down a groomed Rainbow and witnessed a rare treat – squirrels either dancing or squabbling in the middle of the run. I’m going to say they were dancing. While the groomers are soft and grippy, do take caution and watch for some divets and creases… but overall, they are in great shape.
I chose one of my very favorite runs for my last run of the morning… Valley View (Upper & Lower). When Valley View is groomed, that is where you’ll find me. The perfect steepness, an amazing “valley view” and great corduroy should not be missed and I’m picking it as the run of the day… so get out there and enjoy it!
As I neared the base of the mountain, I felt the air temperature drop quite a bit, which means there is an inversion on the mountain today. The base temperature was 14 degrees, the mid temperature was 24 degrees and the summit temperature was 20 degrees as I wrote this blog… and trust me, it felt great up there! Along with milder temps, there were less people on the slopes this morning, giving me a sense of vibrant solitude and mountain clarity… a welcome change after the busy holiday season. I hope you too can get out on the slopes today and find your own sense of mountain clarity. Enjoy the day!
Erin Campbell, snowboarder