As Kim and I boarded the shuttle bus that morning, the radio began playing John Denver's "Sunshine on My Shoulder." I couldn't have picked a more appropriate song - here we were in Colorado, and the sun was shining! A good omen indeed.
After skiing two cloudy, foggy days of limited visibility, we were finally getting a clear day on the mountain. But these blue skies came with a price. It was frigidly cold outside - temps hovered in the single digits (yes, Fahrenheit!)
|Ready for day three!|
Kim and I bundled up with all our layers, and Kim turned her boot heaters on high. Then we rode the gondola once again to mid-mountain. It was wonderful to finally have some views on our trip up, and we marveled as the valley below spread out before us. Our seatmates included a wealthy man from Texas, who showed off his battery-powered heated gloves. (Although we generally don't need such things in the mild PNW, I was coveting those gloves that day.)
|Kim admires the view|
Kim and I decided to try the Storm Peak Express Lift once again. The mountain had received a couple inches of new snow overnight, and the low temps meant it would stay fluffy. Plus many of the runs over there had been nicely groomed.
|The fantastic scenery we'd been missing|
It was a good choice. The snow was amazing - soft and powdery. And oh, were the views incredible from the top! Plus all the trees had been coated in a thick white frost.
|Skiing amongst the frosty trees|
Oh yeah - fresh snow and beautiful scenery! Ski days didn't get much better.
|Flocked by Mother Nature|
However, it only took a couple of runs before my feet began to freeze. Not having heaters in my boots like lucky Kim, I needed a quick warm-up in the nearest lodge. While inside, I purchased some cheap chemical "toe warmers" from the tiny store. I stuffed them in my boots, and - voila! My feet were toasty and happy the rest of the day.
|Our favorite lodge|
Back to the slopes! The snow was soft and fun. The sun was shining. What wasn't to like?
|Magical white trees|
Because it happened to be a weekday, crowds were small. Lift lines were non-existent. Kim and I made multiple trips up and down, scoping out a particular run from the chair and then trying to find it.
|Chairlift to the sky|
Towards the mountaintop, all the trees were coated in a thick snowy blanket. They looked like a group of people, hunkered down against the wind.
|Sun peeking through the trees|
I happened to catch the sun trying to peep through a frosty grove of trees.
|White ghost forest|
Yeah, it was a magical day! Kim and I were having so much fun, we didn't want to stop. But our bodies started complaining.
|Steamboat City below|
The trails at Steamboat are long - much longer than we're used to on Mt. Hood. The lack of rest in lift line, combined with the long runs (and it was our third day of skiing) meant by noon, our legs were thrashed.
|Kim makin' turns|
But we had a plane to catch that evening, so shortly past noon, we decided it was time to head down the hill.
|Trail to the base area|
We made a slow descent down the slopes under Steamboat's gondola, stopping often to take in the fabulous views.
|Steamboat base area|
Back at the base area, the day's unlimited solar energy seemed to have warmed things up quite a bit. It was a lot warmer down here!
|Shoveling snow off the rooftops|
After lunch in a nearby restaurant, Kim and I waited at the shuttle stop for our ride. We passed the time watching a large work crew shoveling snow off the roof of a nearby hotel. All the workers were harnessed and tethered to the railing above. Looked like precarious work!
It had been a fantastic three days in this winter wonderland. I'd enjoyed the wonderful dry snow of the Rocky Mountains and exploring a different ski area. As our plane lifted off, the sun slipped below the horizon, bathing the landscape and sky in incredible colors. A fitting farewell to Colorado. I'll be back again!