There’s more snow in the forecast for April, but the melt is on. Open water is starting to seep into the ice on local lakes. Yesterday, I saw the first pelican move to its prime fishing site on the Yampa River. Human ice fishermen continue to brave the shore’s watery gap to get out on what is now a frozen aquamarine surface that’s so beautiful it rivals the bluebird sky it reflects — but brave remains the operative word. Roads tantalize us with completely dry days. There’s a sheen of melt on the snowy haymeadows. The Yampa is starting to rage through downtown — snow taking on its next seasonal duties.

Follow the sun. It’ll do its work on Storm Peak this afternoon.

And you have three days left to ski. Three glorious days with this entire mountain at your mercy.  That’s why I muscled through the wee hours to finish my taxes last night (a.k.a. this morning). It was painful, but the pleasure of this long weekend of ski revelry, no matter what the weather does to us, is worth it.

Even though it was 37 degrees at 5 a.m. today, the mountain will be best enjoyed with an infusion of sun. It’s breezy up top this morning, so that will be the slowest area to soften. Follow the sun all over the groomers this afternoon. Take a meandering beginner run like Broadway or Why Not  just to soak in the views. The Flat Tops, our stunning wilderness peaks to the south, look incredible right now. Take your well-deserved break from the taxes, the deadlines, the to-dos and get out just to cruise, be that Buddy’s Run, Sunshine Lift Line, West Side, Heavenly Daze to Ted’s Ridge, or a top-to-bottom from Storm Peak to Rainbow to Flat Out and Vagabond on out.

Vagabond cruising under wispy clouds.

It’s the end of another Steamboat winter story — closing a ski season with nearly 100″ of snow on the top of the mountain. The plethora of powder days was truly amazing. So were the sunny ones. And now, the last three are simply about pure fun. My hilarious tween neighbor is plotting  his costumed victory for the Splashdown Pond Skim.  Friends have been holed up with cardboard and duct tape in their garages preparing to unveil their Cardboard Classic crafts. Ozomatli on Saturday. The triumphant return of beloved Leftover Salmon on Sunday. Whoa.

Groomers rework the base for pond skimming and cardboard crafts this weekend.
Groomers rework the base for pond skimming and cardboard crafts this weekend.

Aloha, Buddy, our patron saint of Steamboat winter. Up there at the top of the mountain, you still have months of snow melting to watch. And, no doubt, by July or August, some hikers will find the two ski passes that I lost on deep powder days in the trees this winter.

Three is the magic number. I’m on my third pass of the season. And you have three days left to ski and ride this glorious mountain. Get after it, and I’ll see you after the mud — because not even the deepest powder days beat summer in Steamboat.

Jennie Lay, Telemark skier

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