Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
Find more columns by Tom here.
Steamboat Springs September is hands-down my favorite month of the year in Steamboat Springs - give me cold, clear nights and cloudless days that flirt with 70 degrees all month long.
However, the first two weeks of September 2009 don't remind me all that much of the month of restless geese flying across the harvest moon. The past two weeks have been more like July than September.
Assuming that the next 15 days produce some classic autumn weather, including the first overnight snowfall that persists for six hours or so on Storm Peak, I have a healthy list of not-to-be-missed activities to cram in. Like the geese and the elk, I feel a sense of urgency in September.
I still want to hike Hahn's Peak on a cloudless afternoon and admire the unimpeded views of fall colors on the surrounding hills.
If I can squeeze it in, I'd like to head out of town on a road trip with no precise itinerary. I just want to head west.
It's not unreasonable to expect that we'll be able to poach the first cross-country skiing outing of the new season on Bruce's Trail on Rabbit Ears Pass. If the snow doesn't come in September, I'll hope to volunteer for the annual workday to clear fallen lodgepole, then take my rock skis to the pass in early October.
I'm an early riser, and I expect to awake in the pre-dawn sometime this month to the sound of a distant elk sounding reveille. If you can't hear the animals bugling from your bedroom, plan an evening trip out Routt County Road 53 south of Hayden toward the Williams Fork River. The animals should be thick later this month.
Before the days get too short, I want to make a series of fitness hikes up Blackmer Drive, if it's not too late for an old man to get in shape for ski season.
The weekend of Sept. 26 and 27 should be prime time for fall colors. Sometime in the preceding week, I'll leave the office after work for Buffalo Pass, where I have a standing date with Rainbow Ridge high on the switchbacks above town. Don't look for a sign pointing out the ridge - you'll know it when you see it.
That weekend would be a good time to drive to South Routt, turn right just past P-Burg and head into extreme western Rio Blanco County for the trip over Dunckley Pass. The real reward is up and over the next drainage to Ripple Creek Pass, where the White River Valley in its fall glory spreads out at the base of the Flat Tops.
You might pack a picnic of German sausage, smoked cheddar and unpasteurized apple cider if you can find it.
I've got to get over to Gardner Field some Friday night to see Austin Hinder and the Sailors light up the scoreboard. That may not happen until Oct. 2, when Steamboat hosts a big showdown with the perennially tough Palisade Bulldogs. In the meantime, I might just sneak out of work early on Sept. 28 to see the junior varsity football team take on Eagle Valley. Junior varsity sports get overlooked, but there's something cool about going to a JV game and listening to the coaches teach the athletes. So check your schedules and support a bunch of up-and-coming girls volleyball or boys soccer athletes. I'll be surprised if you don't get a kick out of watching the youngsters on their way up.
Before the aspens give up their gold to winter, I want to drive to Columbine, wander into the mature stands of aspen and lay on my back staring straight up into the quaking heavens. And when the first winter storm blows the leaves away, I want to take a good dog back to the forest and watch it snuffling through the undergrowth while I savor that strange musky smell that only spent aspen leaves give off.
Finally, I want to stand in the Colorado River waving a fly rod in the air while the sweeping current literally bends and stretches the passage of time.
If I get lucky and net a big brown trout, I'm going to kiss it on the lips to ensure good fortune next season.
And then, you can bring on Old Man Winter,' cause I'll be ready for him.