Mango leads the way for Kyrill Kretzschmar on Sunday at Bruce's Trail on Rabbit Ears Pass.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Mango leads the way for Kyrill Kretzschmar on Sunday at Bruce's Trail on Rabbit Ears Pass.

Steamboat skiers rejoice as Bruce’s Trail opens

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— Darrell Bruder takes part in most of the regular Routt County activities, spending his summer hiking, biking, running or doing anything else he can to soak up beautiful Yampa Valley days.

But there’s really only one thing he’s doing as the days fly by and the summer months come and go.

He’s waiting, and on Sunday, the object of his affection was finally within grasp.

Thanks to a snowstorm that struck Saturday afternoon and lingered into Sunday morning, area outdoors enthusiasts finally could clip into their Nordic skis and hit the trails.

They were thrilled.

“This is the form of sport and training I enjoy most,” Bruder said. “Everything I do in the off times of the year, that’s all for this. When I can finally do what I really enjoy, it’s a pleasure.”

Bruce’s Trail was the hub of Sunday’s activity, car after car pulling up to the west-end Rabbit Ears Pass trailhead loaded down with hopeful, eager skiers.

They were in luck. More than two feet of snow covered the ground, and four inches of that was new.

“It’s a powder day,” TJ Thrasher said, grinning wide but breathing hard as he wrapped up his first day of the season.

He skied it with his father, John Thrasher, and was excited to finally hit the snow.

“It’s definitely ski-able. There are a few spots where grass was poking through,” TJ Thrasher said.

“But we’re not complaining,” John Thrasher said, cutting in. “I forgot how much fun this was.”

They were joined by plenty of others in the fun, dozens of skiers hitting the two loops and 5 kilometers of trail, which were groomed for the first time this season Saturday night, paving the way for the winter season.

The opening of the trail was a welcome, especially because it came late.

The trail, which is maintained by the Steamboat Nordic Council with the cooperation of the U.S. Forest Service, is often among the very first groomed terrain in the state to open.

Last year, the first grooming pass was Oct. 25. It was Oct. 21 in 2007, and Oct. 18 in 2006. Knowing that made for a long couple of weeks for area enthusiasts who could do little but look to the sky and wait for the temperatures to drop and the snow to fall.

Finally, Saturday it happened, and for so many, nothing could have been sweeter. The trail was alive with heavy breathing and laughter, old friends greeting one another, families working out together and dogs barking with excitement.

The snow came, and Sunday was a good day.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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