Steamboat Knee Repair 2021

The view from the infinity pool at Princeton Hot Springs in Buena Vista, Colorado.

Many of you know that I’m an avid snowboarder.  Not many folks know that I started snowboarding around the time that Burton was becoming a national brand.  My first snowboard was a giant K2 HC169 Darkstar version.  (It had an awesome graphic of a black hole on the top of the deck and a Grateful Dead lightning bolt big on the bottom.)  

I think I paid less than $400 for the board and bindings.  I used Sorel snow boots with cardboard on the heels.  

Yes, I think I was around 25 years old when this purchase went down.

Now that I have a real job, I can afford much better equipment.  My snowboard is an aggressive downhill stick that keeps me on pace with all my badass ski buddies.

Over time, my back leg would occasionally get a pain in the knee from a big turn.  Most often this turn saved me from a tree, tree well, or going off a drop bigger than my ego.  It would hurt, but nothing I was worried about.

A month ago I was a Princeton Hot Springs in Buena Vista.  (I highly recommend this stop.)  Having been on a long camping trip prior, I had bags of trash to get rid of.  Kristen and I found the dumpster behind the lodge, in an enclosed area that was hard to get the bags into. So I backed my pickup to the loading dock.

The loading dock was taller than my tailgate by about 3 feet.  Kristen watching, I decided to leap up onto the dock so she could see how spry I still am.  When I landed, which was a pretty good stick, I felt a pain in my knee and I knew something was really wrong.

It took me five days to go to the doctor, about the time my knee was the size of a melon.  It didn’t take long and I went from urgent care to MRI.  The result?  A torn quad tendon.  (It’s the one that all your quad muscles attach to above the knee cap.)  A few days later I was in surgery.

Steamboat Orthopedic and Spine Institute has been the best care.  They cared for all the insurance paperwork, my brace, and other equipment, and made sure all my questions were answered.  People come from all over for their care.  I’m stoked I live nearby.

So, the point of this story is that everyone who has had knee surgery and sees my brace wants to tell war stories.  It’s absolutely amazing.  I’m the type of guy trying to get this behind me and I’m ending up being an expert in knee replacements and ACL repairs.

In this ski town, there are plenty of badasses who can relate to my injury.  I’m just keeping my head down so no one knows I’m a gimp.  I love Steamboat folks for keeping me real and giving me stories from their journeys.

In the end, my wife didn’t get impressed by my semi-youthful leap.  She is absolutely enjoying hearing me tell the story and the reaction our friends give when they hear it!

Top Steamboat Activities in Spring Safer at Home

Photo by Jenny Smith on Reshot

With the Colorado soft opening, it has been good to see the weather get warmer and we can move about more freely.  The Spring rains have been pretty common recently and that has guided much of what we do and when.  There has been much to do!

Hiking: warm weather has opened up many trails.  Mad Creek is not only a great hike, the flow of the creek is full now.  Going to the barn and back is an easy walk.  All of Emerald Mountain is open.  

Biking:  If the trails are open, mountain bikers will go.  Mountain bikers also are going to Eagle and Fruita for warm desert trails.  Gravel road bikers are active now.  Roads aren’t dusty and the views of the Spring green are excellent.

Take Out:  Steamboat Springs has an appetite for restaurants.  Having been inside cooking on our own for so long now, it is good to grab take out.  This supports the local community and provides for some great eats with couch time.  More restaurants are opening each week.  This week I’m grabbing a pizza from Otto Pint, who is offering 50% off pizzas all weekend.

Happy Hour:  Well, not a traditional happy hour.  Getting together in the open, near the river or some other outdoor space, BYOB, and social distance together.  Being in a small town has advantages with things like this.  As well, we couldn’t do any of this until the weather changed to warm and sunny.  We had several weeks of moisture, and it was too cool to be outside comfortably for a long time.  It’s good to get outside for a beer, maybe two, and see good friends.

River Time:  It’s high water now for a couple weeks.  Water is draining everywhere, creating rivelets and streams.  The ground was saturated from snowmelt and with all our recent rains, water continuously drains into Burgess Creek, Soda Creek and the others.  The Yampa River is flowing fast.  So anywhere you go, it is easy to find time to visit water and enjoy the movement, sound, and wildlife that can only be found in Spring.  Walks, bike rides, kayaks, and rafting are very common right now near creeks and the Yampa River.

Honestly, we would be doing these things anyway.  Well, except that happy hour would be at a downtown establishment.  Spring is a great time of year in Steamboat Springs, and being here during these curious times definitely has it’s advantages!

A New Time for Steamboat Coronavirus

A couple of weeks ago I posted about how quiet things have been in Steamboat Springs because of changes due to the coronavirus.  Things are still quiet, and now that we are towards the end of quarantine, I’ve discovered a few things.

First, active Steamboat locals are hard to contain.

Local folks all have their favorite activities.  Take these activities away and what happens?  We go outdoors and find other things to do.  Being inside so much, and being unable to go to the gym, happy hour, lunch, or hot springs, locals have been going outside.  There have been so many people in my neighborhood that I have never seen before.  Couples, singles, families all taking time to enjoy Spring weather.  Mostly I see folks riding bike and walking.  

Surprising me is the number of runners out and about.  I have been a runner in the past and I know to be training for Summer started months ago.  This week, I have seen more persons training than ever.  This is odd to me because I just don’t see training inside for running as helpful as outside.  This being said, the persons running could easily be working out for health and not competition.

Second, locals in Steamboat are still quite positive about the future.

Being positive right now can be difficult.  The Coronavirus in Steamboat Springs has been limited.  Yes, we have some cases.  What is really fun to see is how persons are connecting with each other through technology, smiling and talking to each other from a safe distance when finding friends out on a walk, and more.  As well, when I am connecting with friends via Zoom or FaceTime, the conversation is quite positive.  We talk about how things are going well, cooking great food, poke fun at the government, and go over possible plans for being active.

And last, Steamboat Springs adapts easily.

Though this is the first pandemic for all of us, Steamboat Springs adapted to protocols quickly.  I’m guessing this is what really caused us to see a limited affect from the virus outbreak.  We have been very sensitive to second home owners visiting.  And we have been sensitive to families – not just those in need of food or financial help – but also to those who are lonely, bored, and feeling cramped inside.

The town, and county, have been quick to respond to changes in regulations.  Businesses moved strategically to keep employees working as much as possible.  And people were friendly through rough times at the grocery.

Living in Steamboat Springs through the odd and curious times of Coronavirus has been good.  I am sure there are numerous places to enjoy being quarantined.  Steamboat Springs has been an excellent place to be during these months.

Skiing the Pandemic in Steamboat Springs 2020

Last weekend was beautiful!  Blue skies and bright sunshine welcomed me as I was walking up to the gondola.  Families were playing together in the snow and many were just enjoying time on Timber and Torch’s patio.  Though there was a short line to get onto the gondola, the singles line was empty and I walked right up and into a cabin.

I was a in a little bit of a hurry because I wanted to get a couple runs in before I met my friend for some runs.  Once I was in the cabin, I started my Ski Tracks app and looked around.  I was in the cabin with four others who were from out of town.  Outside, I could tell there was fewer people than normal.  News of coronavirus 19 was just getting real in Colorado, with Steamboat just announcing its first case the day before.

Most everyone who I have been running into had a sober perspective on the contagion.  It has been hard to believe that it would reach the far corner of Colorado, but it did.  On my walk to the gondola, I saw families packing cars for the drive back where they came from.  I saw one family arriving and wondered how long they would stay.  I get it – if I didn’t live here, I would be making decisions relating to my family.  But, since I live here, I went skiing and kept my gloves on.

My friend was visiting from Nebraska.  She was stoked to be able get some snowboarding in.  We had met years earlier in Montana where we both lived, worked, and played in the mountains.  I took her on a short locals tour.  Though Storm Peak lift had a line to it, we were able to hit several other lifts without lines.  We didn’t have to wait but a minute or two at each lift.

Around noon, the snow had become very slushy and was hard to move around.  I had one of the worst falls of the season.  Two runs later, I took her to the T Bar.  We grabbed cold beverages and caught up over the last ten years.  It was good to sit in a chair and relax, something I had not done in awhile.

The end of that day Steamboat closed for the season.  Concern about the virus and it’s spread caused all resorts in Colorado to close.  Being folks from out of state who brought the illness to Summit County and Steamboat, we all understood that this measure would both reduce new problems from arriving and keeping any contagious persons from going to another place and be a problem there.

Today, it’s expected that there will be up to 30 inches of new snow at the top of the mountains here in Steamboat.  In the valley, we have light snow and rain.  It’s damp and wet.  And quiet as we all wait out the pandemic.

Spring 2020 Skiing at Steamboat Springs

This year’s snowfall has been really good.  We have our average snowfall for the year, but it’s the way it came.  Consistent over the weeks of Winter.  8” here, 6” there, and, of course, the 10+” days that came around.  I was lucky enough to sneak in a couple of those!  It’s not easy, but it’s worth the extra hour of responsibilities at the end of the day.

This past Thursday, I found myself done with work early for the day.  It hasn’t snowed in awhile and the temperatures have hit the 40 degree mark a couple times.  I had time on my hands so I decided to go night skiing for the first time this year.

It was a good choice.  With the sun being up later in the day, there is more time with ski time with sunshine.  Night skiing opens up with fresh groomed trail as well.  Soft groomer corduroy that’s a little warm is what the evening opened up with.  The lifts opened at 5:30 to a crowd of about 20 people.

The crowd moved pretty quick and I was at the top in about ten minutes.  The sun was slowly going down, giving vibrant sunset colors to the Flattop Mountains, South Routt Valley, and town.  There was few people  on the slopes so I was able to open it up to a bit of speed.  Being a short run, I was to the bottom quickly.  At the bottom, there were only a couple people.  

For the next run, it felt like I was the only one on the hill.  No one was around me and I enjoyed a great second lap.

From here, dinner was done for many folks and they began to filter in.  Through the evening, there wasn’t a bunch of people, but it was busy.  I was able to navigate happy turns for the rest of the evening.  

When the sun set, twilight gave way to the lights on the runs.  Riding the lift back to the top, the half moon rose above the ridge and greeted me.

Night skiing isn’t something that I usually do.  My schedule for the Winter has not made it easy to break away.  At least for this month, it seems like I’m going to be able to get at least a day in each week until closing!  I’m stoked.  Like, ski bum stoked!

Steamboat Winter Weather 2020

This Winter has been very snowy!  We have had a number of storms that stack up on after another and provide great conditions.

NOAA, at the beginning of the season, talked about cold weather and a little bit of snow for the early season.  They also talked about regular snow through January and then tapering off to warmer trends for the rest of the Winter.  They were right.

Early season, we had a number of snow events, but none were really, really big.  Often snow would come in amounts up to six inches then move on.  And, as typical with an exiting front, the temperatures got really, really cold.  Once, my car registered -11 degrees.  It was this cold for more than a week and has not returned.

Once living in temperatures this cold, a person gets to know that temperature as the definition of cold.  Now, at the end of January, 10 degrees feels like it’s warm outside.  A couple times this season when I was getting in my car early in the day, I thought it was about 10-15 degrees only to find out it was zero!

Brrr!

December had two really fun snow events.  My favorite was five days long.  Ullr blessed us with snow the entire time.  If I remember right, it was three storms in a row and it didn’t stop snowing.  There were periods where snow tapered off for hours only to start up again and bring fresh inches.

January brought several Champagne Powder days.  A person could walk up to a snow covered car and blow on the top few inches.  Poof!  It would fly away without effort.  Those days were great for skiing and riding.  Snow would curl behind you and wisp away like fairy dust.

Now with February approaching, the number of Champagne Powder days is limited.  It’s starting to warm up, like things do prior to Spring.  Often we have many days of great skiing in February and the first few weeks look good for moisture and cool temperatures.

Our biggest conundrum for all season is how the snowpack has set up.  Some areas of Steamboat have not opened up because of avalanche concerns.  Though these areas have set up, the lower layers of the snow are volatile.  In some places, the snow has melted away from the ground, making it easy to disturb.  In two areas of the resort, the terrain did slide, and it broke at the ground and slid slabs into the areas down below.  In the early season, two people were caught and found themselves relatively uninjured at the end of it all.

Overall, Winter has been Steamboat awesome.  Many more days of snow are in the forecast and I am ready to ski as many of them as I can!

Steamboat Springs Summer 2019

Approaching the fire tower at Hahn’s Peak

This is one of the best Summers to be in Steamboat!

Spring was wet.  Everyone will agree that it was off the charts with rainy weather, including two days where it snowed a few inches in town.  On Summer Solstice nonetheless!  

The result is a very green and lush Yampa Valley.  Trees, flowers, grasses all are full of life.  Wildlife is happy.  Visitors can’t believe the mild Summer weather nor the greens that are everywhere from hillsides to valley views.  

When Spring was raining, I noted two things: 1) this much water was going to make a beautiful Summer, and 2) El Nino was going to continue to keep it beautiful.  Lucky me, I was right!  

Having spent much time hiking nearby, it has been easy to enjoy the mountain climate.  Last weekend we took a trip to Hahn’s Peak for an overnight campout and hike up to the fire tower.  It was good to see so many people enjoying being out.  Though there were some bugs, camping out was very comfortable.  At night, the stars were vivid.  It was one of the clearest nights I have been able to observe the Milky Way.

On the hike up Hahn’s Peak to the fire tower, it was a little warmer than I wanted.  That being said, the hike was quick and towards the top, there were snowbanks dotting the landscape.  Some of them quite large and covering parts of the trail up.  It was great to see kids glissading down the snow and dogs rolling in the cold, tongues hanging out.

A weekend or so earlier, Rabbit Ears was much the same.  Meadows of wildflowers in bloom greeted us as we took the gentle hike towards the famous rock formation.  The number of flowers blooming was amazing and we found some we had not seen before.  Towards the transition to the top, there was a large snowfield we had to cross.  It was about a quarter-mile long, and at times two feet deep.  

Trekking up to Rabbit Ears

Both hikes were beautiful blue sky days like only Colorado can provide.  Being in Steamboat is something that I get bored from and do my best not to take for granted. Accessing great wilderness terrain within a short drive is a treat, and definitely one of the reasons I live here.  

Now that August is fast around the corner, families are considering the beginning of the school year.  Many visitors this week are many of these persons.  With many things still do, like tubing the Yampa and downhill mountain biking, it’s difficult to think that Summer will ever end.  Thankfully, when Summer ends, there is a great season approaching!

What is Mud Season?

If you haven’t heard of mud season, it is a term used in Colorado ski towns to talk about the time between Winter and Summer seasons.  This isn’t defined as a date, like Solstice or Equinox.  It is defined more by when the local resort opens and closes.  The resort commonly closes in mid-April and reopens on Memorial Day.  Then again, it closes sometime between Labor Day and the first week of October.  (For Steamboat, this varies a bit depending on reservations, mostly from sports teams, weddings, and visitors from the Denver area.)

In between is normally a mix of Spring or Fall weather that makes it difficult to explore outside.  There are good days to have fun, without question, but rain and snow can make things, um, muddy.  During this time tourists are not common.  Steamboat Springs in the height of Winter or Summer seasons will have up to 30,000 visitors on a weekend.  (That’s a lot for a town of 12,000 residents.)  During mud season, perhaps 2000-ish people will visit on a weekend.  Usually less.

In Spring, snow is melting.  Thawing begins on the valley floor and works it’s way up the mountains.

It’s nice to get around town quickly, not have lines at restaurants, as well as the local hot springs aren’t crowded.  Strangely, the Post Office consistently has a line.  Restaurants often have specials.  Two for one, 50% off entrées, and cheaper lunches are common.  Happy hour two for ones, all day, are common too.

What do we do during mud season?  It’s a combination of recovering from being very busy to seeing friends not seen because of being busy.  This is also a great time to vacation.  In transitions from one season to the next, weather is often excellent in other parts of the world.  While it is slower, we vacation where it’s warm or extend our ski season in Europe.

As I write this, our Fall mud season is coming to an end.  Thanksgiving is the opening of the resort and visitors will be everywhere.  After almost two months of a not very busy time, it’s good to see tourists again.  They bring a vibrancy that we enjoy.  Seeing smiling faces, families having a big experience, couples holding hands – this makes us very happy!

Old Town Steamboat Springs

old town steamboat springs real estate

Most cities have an ‘Old Town’ area.  These areas tend to be old homes near Main Street and have period architecture related to the booms in an economy.  In Steamboat Springs, these homes have seen the comings and goings of many families.  They are now well-kept with the large pride of the owners in them.

The design style of the interiors vary.  Many are renovated to keep the historic woods and finishes of when they were first built.  These homes have the classic lines of the 50’s and 60’s and are generally under 1400 square feet.  Every effort has been made to maximize the interior space, including renovating the attic into more rooms.

Several have been updated to what we call western mountain contemporary.  These homes can include a design that includes barn wood, rusted corrugated metal, and more.  Commonly, granite countertops are found, and some butcher block counters are found.  Cabinets have glass and floors a contemporary laminate or wood.

And there several that are remodeled to modern, somewhat urban design.  These homes can have a very industrial feel, with the dominant colors being grays and whites.  Occasionally I find a home that is decorated in all white, black, and stainless steel.  These homes are not as common as the classic, historic decor.

What these homes have in common is a pride of ownership.  Not being cheap, the owners of these homes keep well cared for landscapes.  Some landscapes are intricately designed with four-season color, tiered shrubs, and trees, as well as immaculately kept lawns.  The flowers for these garden areas range from old school perennials to new color varieties of uncommon plants, including hostas and echinacea.

I have seen these trends in other Colorado ski towns.  It’s been a treat to visit other areas and see the differences in the historic areas of town.  How a community preserves its heritage says much about a town.  Many Colorado ski areas were first mining towns or ranching towns that grew into places where ski bums and luxury lifestyle meet.  And that is what I often find when I stop by the local brewery!

How to find out Happenings around Steamboat

Steamboat Springs Happenings winter activity

Steamboat Springs has a lot to do.  Every day there are opportunities for sports, education, and music.  Sometimes it is overwhelming to make a decision about what to do.  This is a quick article on where to find the best information on events.

Steamboat Today Happenings pages in the newspaper are the locals.  It’s two pages of clubs and events.  What is even more informative is the website.  The newspaper doesn’t have enough room to print all of the submissions they receive.  As well, the newspaper often has articles on upcoming events.  Articles on the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo, Tour de Steamboat, and Octoberwest are seen almost every year just before the weekend of the event.

Steamboat Resort events page commonly has just resort events.  That being said, some of the events are not to be missed.  The resort has many activities ranging from bike and ski events to concerts, Family Fun Night and Sunset Happy Hours found at the top of Mount Werner in Thunderhead Lodge.

Steamboat Chamber of Commerce also has an events page.  This calendar has some over-lapping information on it.  But it comes from the Chamber and they have a great take on the events in Steamboat.  The Chamber is around to promote Steamboat and help visitors and citizens find what they are looking for.

Schmiggity’s Concert Calendar is one of the best for nightlife entertainment.  Though the events start late, they are contemporary.  Schmiggity’s brings in some of the best talents for small venue concerts, plus they have karaoke and live band karaoke on separate nights.  The vibe of Schmiggity’s is fun and brings crowds in consistently.

Old Town Pub calendar is a great place to find good bands.  A locals venue, Old Town Pub has great character, lots of space, a versatile stage, and a decent bar menu.  It is easy to find locals gathering at Old Town Pub most times of the day, especially happy hour where they have some of the best values in town.

Steamboat Sailor’s sports calendar has all the sporting activity each day for the high school.  Steamboat boasts a broad and competitive athletic program.  Any time around the school year, a game is going on.  From lacrosse to football, Steamboat has much to offer.

Check out the calendars above.  You might be surprised when you find a rodeo, car show, or fireworks happening.