Sunday, August 27, 2006

Seasonal change always brings mixed feelings

UPDATE: We have also been getting an incredible amount of rain over the past 6 weeks(for Steamboat). Last year was a big jump up from any of the last 5 or 6 years and it was followed by a fantastic winter. Here's a Champagne Powder toast to a repeat of last years incredible snow conditions. It snowed 70 out of 100 days last season from the Sunday after Thanksgiving and you could often find knee deep powder in the trees on a 4 inch over-night snow report. While my sentiments haven't changed I am much more excited for skiing than when I first wrote this at the beginning of the month.

The fields in the valley and the ski runs on Mt Werner are starting to show some brown, the raspberries up on some of my favorite mountain biking trails are getting ripe, the breezes are a little cooler, and animals start to prepare of winter.

This is the time of the year that I realize there are only about 3 months of good mountain biking left, 2 months to camp with the kids, less than a month before Alden starts school again and less than 4 months left until ski season. The change of seasons here always brings out a bit of dissonance in my mind. Summer is absolutely fantastic but it always hurts a bit to let spring skiing slip away. Fall beckons with it's perfect weather, beautiful vistas, great fly-fishing and the first snow in September that reminds us we are in a ski town. It always feels like summer has gone by too fast and we need more time to get in all of our favorite things.

In the fall I am still trying to finish all of the summer basics that you need to get in each year as a local here. At the same time winter occupies more and more of my thoughts. Fall is so special that I can't forget to get out for hiking, biking & photo ops in the endless large and small vistas of the changing aspen leaves. Fall is also the time of anticipation in a ski town where locals look to an infinite variety of signs for clues to what the coming winter holds. One of my personal favorites is overhearing the 80 year old ranchers who are closest to the land talking about how they haven't seen X, Y & Z since 1977 and it's going to be a ... winter just like then. Last fall they talked about a big winter and they were right. I can't wait to hear what they have to say this year.

Winter is the reason I first came to Steamboat Springs, a time that my young son bursts in to wake me up saying "Daddy, its a POWDER DAY". I hope that he never stops doing that. He is already talking about skiing this year with me and how he won't need the harness. It is a time that I can fly down the slopes on a magic carpet of powder through my favorite frosted columns of aspens holding up the deep blue sky or providing the contrast I need to see when it is dumping snow. It is a time to decide which skis would be perfect that day, get the kids out on bluebird days with candy in your pockets and the irrepressible hope that they will love skiing as much as you. You meet people on the lifts from here and there and always seem to have something in common or a good friend from there. Talk on the lifts with other locals/friends focuses on comparing notes, speculating which of the many exposures, subtle folds or breaks in the trees on the mountain holds the best snow based on infinite weather variables, time of day, skier traffic and other important factors I'm not prepared to share until I know you better ;) You give enough to establish credibility but always hold back your best secrets. If they have the right look you casually follow to see where they are skiing in case there is something you have missed by habit, hubris or omission. You can never let you ego keep you from finding even more great powder stashes you know.

The days start to get longer and spring skiing is now at hand. The winter has shaped your legs and the soft snow makes you feel like a hero in the bumps but the end of the season is coming fast so you make an extra effort to get out on the slopes into the backcountry before the winter goodness is gone. A good dose of POWDER DAYS thrown in the to warming mix of spring lets you get that indescribable mix of adrenaline and absolute content that only a powder day at the end of the season can provide. Next comes spring which is right after the extra season we have here which is spring skiing in case you thought I was talking about spring above. Skiing on Mt Werner has ended but many people keep hiking or snowmobiling to their favorite runs. Even in a big snow year the valley has mostly melted and the fields glimmer with a layer of snowmelt coming down from above.

This is about the only time I long to get out of town, usually for a mountain bike trip that I have been thinking about since our extra season, spring skiing. Life in Steamboat has come full circle.

The picture above was taken by a good friend Eddie Byrne last fall after most of the leaves had dropped. We were mountain biking up the Valley View trail to the top of Thunderhead.

Champagne Powder

"Champagne Powder best served chilled over a friendly ski town" is one of the Steamboat Ski area's new ad tag lines this year. It's the sort of authentic yet clever description that I love to see in the Steamboat marketing plan. My son Alden is letting letting some of the Champagne Powder tickle his nose in this picture from last February. He asked me to watch the first ski movie of the season about a week ago and has been talking about powder skiing with Daddy ever since. I can't wait to get out with my little powder hound soon.

A little bit of Steamboat Springs history you may not know is that the phrase Champagne Powder came from a one of the exploratory trips down from Rabbit Ears pass to Mount Werner. James Temple, the founder of the Steamboat Ski Area, and several other local ski pioneers were pulled by a snowcat down from the pass to Storm Peak that day when the phase Champagne powder was first used. I was at a dinner honoring Mr. Temple last night and he told the story about how one of the people skiing said the powder on the mountain tickled his nose like Champagne as it billowed up over them. They showed some pictures from that day on a DVD about the founding of the Ski area. James Temple is scheduled to be inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame in October. I think it is an honor that is well deserved. Hearing him tell the story of how skiing started on Storm Mountain with a twinkle in his eye sent chills up and down my spine. I am looking forward to getting a copy of the completed DVD with the whole story this fall. Let me know if you want to borrow it next time you are in town.

First Snow!!!

Saturday night marked the first snow of the season here in the Steamboat Springs area. The storm dusted the Mount Zirkel and Flat Tops Wilderness areas and came with a half inch of rain in town during the weekend. The Yampa river was flowing about 50% above average over the weekend which should be great for fall fly-fishing in the Steamboat Springs area if the precipitation keeps up. Last year we had a really wet fall in comparison to the several previous years followed by a great ski season. This year seems quite a bit wetter over the last 6 weeks with even more strong bursts and showers that linger even longer. No one knows what that will bring but it sure seems like a good sign. The weather has also gotten dramatically cooler over the last week or two. People are starting to make that extra effort to get in their fill of summer sports and put up winter essentials like new skis, the tent sale this year has been packed.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Steamboat Fans

I want to take a minute to thank all of you that have been following my blog for a while now. I feel lucky to live in Steamboat with my family so it is fun to share some of my thoughts and news on my favorite town.

It is satisfying to see how many of you read this blog regularly. I can't tell who you are (and wouldn't try) but I can see when people visit more than once and sometimes where they are from. I just looked tonight and there were two people this week from Arizona and Tennessee that have visited 90 plus times. One of you has visited this site 129 times. I've only posted 133 times so that is quite a compliment (it's not my mom, really). I suspect it has much more to do with the natural allure of Steamboat and possibly a really hot summer in Tennessee and Azizona.

If anyone else would like to give me your thoughts on what you like, don't like or how I could improve this blog please drop me an email or leave me a comment below. I always enjoy hearing from you. Thanks!

Update: I got a reply from a nice guy in Tennessee hours after posting this and awarded him 2 lift tickets for being so quick.

Marabou Ranch coming together

Marabou Ranch, the largest and most exclusive new Land Preservation Subdivision in Steamboat Springs, CO. really seems to be getting some momentum. I think that the location close to town but with the feel of a remote ranch, the thought that has been put into making it even more special, the fly-fishing on 2 miles of the Elk River, the surprising level of amenities and the positive changes that are on the near horizon here in Steamboat Springs are coming together to give this development rapid market acceptance. For more thoughts on this click the following link for my blog on Marabou Ranch in Steamboat Springs, CO. Check out some of the Marabou Ranch pictures too, they are a worthwhile diversion.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Steamboat Base Area Update

Here is a rendering that incorporates some of the current plans for improvements at the Steamboat Ski Area base by the Urban Renewal Authority. Plans are still being worked out so I won't provide too many details here but the improvements we are likley to see due to public and private efforts at the base have to potential to make the base area much more of destination for food, entertainment and just to hang out. I think they will also have a big impact on property values. I'm happy to explain the most current plans and what I think will benefit the most if you give me a call.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Wildhorse Meadows update

Wildhorse Meadows has been approved by the Steamboat Springs City Council and includes a free public gondola between it and the new plaza in One Steamboat Place. Current plans for One Steamboat place include a large public plaza that goes from Mount Werner Circle to gondola square that in my opinion will start to make the base area of Steamboat more of a destination for food and entertainment in addition to a nicer place ot just hang out after skiing or in the summer. It includes a new skier drop off and landing zone for the Wildhorse Meadows Cabriolet gondola This makes Wildhorse Meadows a new base area in my book.

I see it as a major step forward for Steamboat's base area upgrades and expect to see some of the same benefits and increases in value that other ski areas have experienced when they upgrade their base. I think it will have a postive impact on other quality properties in the base area and be a good opportunity on it's own. Give me a call or send an email if you want to know more about what is happening here in Steamboat. I follow these developments and the public improvements for the Steamboat base closely so you can learn about them all in one place. My contact info is at the top left of this page.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Yampa River

The health of the Yampa River is key to the past, present and future of Steamboat Springs. Since you are reading this blog we problaby share a strong interest in Steamboat I thought you might like to learn more about the Yampa river. The link at the end of this sentence will take you to an excellent series of articles about the history of the river, water rights and changing demands on the Yampa River in the Steamboat Pilot and Today called Shifting Currents. I took this photo right behind my office last week as I was eating lunch. I try to have a relaxing lunch by the river at least once a week even if i only have 20 minutes.