Two fresh inches of snow fell in the past 24 hours, which means we’ve doubled our base with a swish of storms and flurries passing through Steamboat this week. And it’s cold as heck, so the snow guns are running full throttle. It’s a lovely winter morning to be skiing the ‘Boat.

Standing in the spray: It’s piling up.

Both the gondola and Christie Peak Express open at 8:30 a.m. That means this weekend you can ski the early corduroy, then get your holiday shop on or go see The Nutcracker during the afternoon. ‘Tis the season, and I predict your procrastination lists are piling up as fast as mine.

Steamboat’s seven open trails include a long, smooth, groomed run from the top of Thunderhead, which is no slouch of a ride. That’s over 2,000 feet of vertical. Lap that and skip the chatty stops. Your thighs will thank you.

And while you’re up on Mount Werner, I’d like to take a moment in this newsworthy week to remind you that you’re skiing and riding on America’s public land.

Gondola backdropped by a horizon of public lands

The Steamboat Ski Area operates on the Routt National Forest, one of the many incredible treasures that make up the mosaic of the United States’ rich natural resources. Our National Forests are joined in our mutual ownership by the Bureau of Land Management’s vast prairies and deserts, the natural and scenic wonders immortalized in our National Parks, the antiquities preserved in our National Monuments, the fragile wildlife and habitats conserved in our National Wildlife Refuge System, critical underwater terrain for much of the planet’s food security set aside in our National Marine Sanctuaries, and the unmarred expanses of our designated Wilderness Areas. Together, these real estate resources create one of this country’s greatest legacies: public land. We use it communally to protect clean air and water, for recreation and resource extraction, and for the general wealth and health of the American spirit. It is our greatest asset.

Clean air and the snow for summer’s pure water

Patagonia reminded me of a powerful quote from Teddy Roosevelt: “We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”

Get out and love this publicly owned and protected landscape. I encourage you to get out and ski on it. Ride with the deepest respect that you are traversing something precious and fragile. Don’t ever take it for granted.

In a season of celebration and gratitude, protecting the glorious public lands that wrap around our community and thread through so much of this country is at the peak of my wish list. This land is your land; this land is mine.

Go tell it on the mountain.

Jennie Lay, telemark skier

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