John F. Russell: Hanging on to fall in Steamboat Springs |

John F. Russell: Hanging on to fall in Steamboat Springs

— It hasn't changed in the 22 years I've lived in this mountain town.

I'm not sure if it's pure enthusiasm, a great example of dedication or some kind of sickness. But every October, there is an outbreak that is impossible to ignore.

It's the time of the year when most people are doing everything possible to squeeze the most out of the few remaining days of fall. For some, that means one last round on the golf course, or maybe taking a long hike into the wilderness to fish, or jumping on the bike to log a few more miles on the singletrack trails that lead to the scenic beauty that we all love in the Yampa Valley.

But not everybody agrees.

For those who would rather rush into winter, Wednesday marked one of the biggest days of the year, the day many die-hard skiers from the Yampa Valley have been waiting for. Those skiers jumped into their cars last week and traveled an hour and a half to get back to the slopes of Arapahoe Basin. A small price, at least for them, to be one of the first in Colorado to ski.

I've been here for a long time, and I know the desire of some locals to get back to the slopes never really seems to change. I'm not among the die-hard skiers who are willing to give up one of our final warm days of the year, one of our final days in Steamboat without snow on the ground, to brave crowded slopes and long lift lines in Summit County.

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I would rather wait.

I like more than a few inches of snow under my skis. Sure, I will log a few days in November and a few more in December, but I'm not among the most dedicated. They are already back on the slopes, and I admire their love of the sport.

I prefer to wait until the snow gets a little deeper and I can head off the main trails to explore Steamboat's trees or ski through a few soft bumps. My lack of early-season enthusiasm might sound a little strange in a town like Steamboat, where everybody seems to live for powder, but the six months from November to April always have been more than enough to satisfy my skiing appetite.

But I'm not the norm in Ski Town USA. The truth is that I've always been a bigger fan of summer — this despite the fact I live in a town where winter rules.

So for the next few weeks, or as long as the warm days of summer and fall linger, I'll do my best to hang on to those warm afternoons. I don't expect this town's enthusiasm for winter, or its enthusiasm for skiing, to change, but that doesn't mean I'm ready to conform.

I'll catch up with all those folk in a few months when the snow gets a little deeper and there is no more time to spend enjoying summer and fall days.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209 or email

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