My dog begged OUT sometime before sunrise this morning. Opening the door to a snow-free deck, a whoosh of birdsong struck my ears. The aspen forest was chirping with full-tilt spring.

It’s been weeks since I saw my first bluebirds flitting about the sage. And we all know those glorious greater sandhill cranes are back in the valley. But you really know we’re edging past winter when the pelicans arrive south of Steamboat.

Bird house ready

I saw my first pelican yesterday afternoon. She was huddled in a patch of open water just below a rushing stretch of Yampa River where fishermen have been casting their flies for weeks. She looked kind of cold, to be honest. By this morning, she was lapping the icy open water like a champ.

Stagecoach’s first pelican of 2018

We’ve moved past dipping into spring. This is the heart of Colorado’s craziest and most unpredictable season. Summer is coming, no matter how big the weekend’s impending winter storm may prove to be. Quoting Master Joel:

“This is a monster storm as measured by moisture, which will be about 400% of average for this date. Expect intense snow near the summit, and, I’m sorry to say, intense rain likely at the base.”

Let it drizzle down below and dump on Storm Peak. We love the water. We love the weather. As the C Hole in front of the library proves, this just means Steamboaters will happily ski and kayak in the same day. This is deep spring, and my new stand-up paddleboard is already inflated, taking up way too much space inside my little log cabin, just waiting for the lake ice to break.

Water is opening among the Yampa River willows

But first, the 5 a.m. ski report registered 2 inches of fresh on top this morning and another 3.5 inches on top of that by 8:30 a.m. Rise up, skiers and riders. It’s snowing hard up there!

Storm Peak living up to its name

This isn’t Champagne Powder. This is dense, wet snow. It’s got some girth, and it definitely checks your speed. Also, the icy flakes will needle your face, so make sure you cover up your skin and waterproof your gear today.

Sweet Sideburn

Turning off the top of Storm Peak, the face was skiing sweet. I made long, virgin turns along the edge of Sideburn, then a fresh trail on skier’s right of Sunset. Conditions from the base of Sundown on up to the top are holding really consistent. It’s a little wetter from the gondola down, but enough snow has fallen to even hide the corduroy, and I’m certainly not going to complain about my first tracks on Ted’s Ridge this morning.

Alone on Ted’s Ridge

This is the home stretch, skiers and riders. Don’t let a flake pass you by. It’s a long wait for the lifts to open again in November. Embrace all things Springalicious!

Jennie Lay, Telemark skier

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