Steamboat Springs Kelly Chambers flapped his arms up and down like a bird flying through the warm spring air, his imagination taking him off the back of the snowmobile he was riding and into the skies over Rabbit Ears Pass.
On another snowmobile behind him, Jaimee Sexton had opened her coat to feel the breeze. And behind her, Matt Troeger kept looking back over his shoulder with a grin, just to make sure those behind him were having as much fun as he was.
On a bluebird day Saturday on the east side of Rabbit Ears Pass, Chambers, Sexton, Troeger and about 15 other clients and their counselors from Horizons Specialized Services were taken on a 20-mile snowmobile ride courtesy of Routt Powder Riders, with sleds and guides provided by Steamboat Snowmobile Tours.
It was the 14th year the snowmobiling club has organized the ride, which offers the developmentally disabled Horizons clients a chance to get outside, spend a day with friends and feel the wind in their faces as they cruised over the freshly groomed trails.
“It was awesome,” Sexton said when she returned to the base cabin. “It feels really good. It feels like the adrenaline.”
Sarah Levine, a counselor with Horizons, said the program provides many benefits for the clients.
“It’s great,” Levine said. “It gives them a sense of independence. They’re on these machines … and it just gives them this chance to go fast.”
She said some of the clients don’t drive cars, so on Saturday, even those who rode on the back of the snowmobiles got the chance to feel like they were flying.
“These guys go way faster than me,” Levine said. “And that’s cool, it’s something they’re good at.”
Joyce Hartless, Routt Powder Riders secretary, said she’s ridden with clients in past years who beg for more.
“It’s a great opportunity to provide community outreach,” Hartless said. “And to provide things for people that might not otherwise get to do it. It’s fun for everyone.”
Steamboat Snowmobile Tours guide Ivan Binnings said he’s guided the group trip for several years and it’s a day he always looks forward to.
“It’s a fun event,” Binnings said. “These guys are so easy to please. It’s something different; it’s a connection with the community because we don’t always get the chance to have an impact in the community like that.”
Horizons client Tim McClenathan felt the impact of the day, which has become one of his only chances to enjoy the sport since he got rid of his own snowmobile years ago.
He said Saturday’s weather, company and riding made it one of the greatest years of the event.
And there was no doubt about his favorite part of the day.
“Catching big air on my snowmobile and being with friends, for sure,” he said.
— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com