Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com.
Find more columns by Joel here.
Steamboat Springs I knew I wasn’t the first, but I couldn’t help myself.
Ximena Pemueller, visiting Steamboat Springs from Guatemala with her family, said everyone has told her Steamboat is never like this in the spring.
Clearly, someone explained that March and even April often are ideal times to be skiing the slopes, and that even when terrain gets cruddy and closed late in the season, vast sections of the mountain never get shut down like they have been this year.
I can’t help it, though. I’ve slipped the phrase “It sure is a weird season” into nearly every conversation I’ve had during the past two weeks, and I wasn’t about to let the Pemuellers return to Guatemala without hearing the same from my own lips.
It sure is a weird season.
I simply can’t get over it. I can’t drive to work without thinking about it. Heck, I can’t even walk to my car to drive to work without thinking about it.
In early March, one of my best friends visited for the first time in my five Steamboat winters, and fortunately, he came at a time when Steamboat actually looked like Steamboat.
February’s rash of snowstorms had piled the snow up, and it had yet to really settle, so the sidewalks around my condo had that mouse-in-a-maze feel. The walls were at least 3 feet high and seemed impenetrable, like the whole city lived along these few carefully carved out paths.
He was amazed. It was the first thing he reported when he called his girlfriend back home.
That snow was gone before March was, and it boggles my mind every time I open the door.
One of the first pearls of wisdom I collected in Steamboat Springs has proven to be one of the best. After arriving in February 2008, I was asking around about what was to come. What would April and May and June be like? What was average?
“There is no average,” someone wise explained. “There’s no such thing as an average winter in Steamboat Springs.”
It’s never going to snow 349 inches, the average, according to Steamboat Ski Area. The river’s never going to peak on the average date, and Emerald Mountain’s trails never will be declared dry the same day they were the year before.
I know that. I have known that, and yet I stumble around this town in awe. I’m in awe of the hardships faced by the poor souls at and around the ski mountain. A few chats with business owners revealed things there are as miserable as you are afraid they might be.
I’m in awe of the perspective the tourists I’ve talked with have been able to maintain. I have to imagine my reaction to such a predicament would be on par with that of Chevy Chase in “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” I’d hold someone up with a BB gun to force on the snowmaking machines, no matter how ineffective they were, and I’d ride that dang gondola no matter how windy it was.
The Pemueller family, of course, didn’t do any of that. They shrugged, said they’ve still had a great time and that they maybe got a little unlucky.
I’m in awe of that and of everything else. Don’t look my way twice, or chances are, I’m going to talk to you about it.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com