Greater Charleston Ski Club

 by Mike Hadbavny

Have you ever wondered what a ski resort is like in the off-season?  I grew up near a resort in the Northeast and always thought of those places as sleepy hollows in the off-season.  In mid-2019, I had the opportunity to explore Steamboat and Winter Park, Colorado and found they were not quiet little towns.

About every other year, I drive to Oregon and visit my brother and the 2019 route was passing through Steamboat.   Having hunted both east and south of Steamboat years ago, I queried the last ski Instructor I skied with in 2018.  She said that area was 4 point or better for elk (a Western 4 point is what we in the East would refer to as an 8 point) and they don’t get to that size by being dumb.  While on the phone I was alerted about a super deal for January with a 3 day pass being roughly half price and the first two weeks in April at roughly 1/3 price.  So I booked the April lift pass and signed up for a private lesson.  The lesson cured me of difficulty I had for years with the skis running away when negotiating a 150 to 160 degree turn on very steep blue runs. 

Steamboat seemed fairly quiet then, with even less skiers than the traditional December Ski and Race Camp Week.  There were no waits to get into a restaurant, but the snow was still several feet deep.  I also wanted to ski Lost Trails Pass MT/ID and Glenwood Springs CO, but they both closed early.  And at that stage having been traveled out, I did not stop by Winter Park CO, another destination of the GCSC.

Since I had to attend a meeting in Spokane WA, my next idea was to revisit Steamboat in July on the return trip to do some exploring and even some horseback trail riding with the Routt County Horse Rescue (http://RouttCountyHorseRescue.org).  I had not been on horseback since around 1987.  The RCHR rehabilitates abandoned and mistreated horses and trains horses and riders of all ages.  This had me stopping in July, and it was a night and day different place, with even more traffic and wait lines at restaurants. With the trail riding I was confident and yet apprehensive.  The caliber of those horses proved to be simply amazing since most of my fellow riders were children in their pre-teens.   I also had never been in a cowboy town in the summer and a lot of the happenings centered around the Amateur Rodeo on Thursday and the Professional Rodeo on Friday.  Some other highlights are mountain biking on trails on the ski slope, rafting on the Yampa River which has some exciting rapids, and soaking weary bones at the City Hot Springs.  The terrain there was much different from the place I previously trail rode in Wyoming.