Work on kayak feature delays trail opening in Steamboat

River flow ties C-Hole to Catamount’s Nordic offerings

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— Repair work resumed Tues­day on the whitewater kayak feature known as Charlie’s Hole, raising hopes that the Nordic ski trails at Lake Cata­mount will be able to open for the Steamboat Nordic Camp on Dec. 11.

Several large boulders were delivered to the whitewater hole in the Yampa River adjacent to Bud Werner Memorial Library. They will be used to help restore the recirculating wave in the river that kayakers enjoy surfing. The hole washed out in spring when intense runoff shifted the existing boulders.

The work on the C-Hole in downtown Steamboat Springs would seem to have a tenuous connection to Nordic trails seven miles south of the city, but the relationship has to do with the amount of water flowing in the river.

Catamount Lake Manager Dave McAtee said Tuesday that Heritage cross-country ski trail, which links to Catamount’s best Nordic terrain on the west side of Routt County Road 18, actually runs across a shallow portion of the lake bed. It dries up late every fall when Joel Anderson, manager of the Lake Catamount Metro District, draws the lake level down to make it ready to store spring runoff.

Anderson cooperated with the city’s Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Depart­ment this fall to delay the water releases to minimize the amount of streamflow that heavy equipment operators for Nordic Exca­vating must contend with at the C-Hole.

The Catamount trails weren’t scheduled to open until Dec. 13, McAtee said, but this was one of those rare years when Catamount could have opened them early.

“It did hold us back,” he said. “The big, wet storms we received fell on water this year. Typically our lake level would have already been down 10 feet. We don’t usually get these big early storms like we did. We could have already opened.”

In the meantime, Anderson has begun lowering the lake.

Catamount had 8 to 10 inches of new snow Tuesday morning, and the staff did some grooming on the Heritage Trail. With another 10 inches of snow, Catamount probably will be set to go.

“Hopefully, this won’t make a difference for the Nordic” camp, McAtee said.

In the meantime, cross-country skiers are enjoying the Steamboat Ski Touring Center, where 100 percent of the trails are open.

— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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