January 6, 2009
It’s our first day skiing together without an instructor. Steamboat had a very large mountain for skiing. So far we’ve really only been taking a lift called the Christy Express that only goes up what is called lower mountain. Lower mountain is perhaps only 1/3 or 1/4 of the height of the summit. Now we know how to take the gondola up the mountain. The gondola goes quite a ways up the mountain, but still not to the summit. In fact to get to the summit, we skied down to another lift called the Sundown Express and took that up to the summit. There is only one green run from the summit back down to the gondola, and most people that come up here are coming up for the blue and black runs. So, our skiing today was fairly uncrowded and we were able to take our time. If it had been less cloudy today and less snowy, we would have had a great view of Steamboat Springs, but even so we had a lot of fun trying out the new trails. We had lunch up on the mountain at the gondola where there was a food court for all the skiers that stay up on the mountain rather than going back down to the base. In fact even further up from the gondola was another shelter with a food court and facilities in case you were higher up and tired.
In the evening we reserved a spot to go tubing at a place called Saddleback Ranch. They came and picked us up at the transit center and took us out to the ranch. As it turned out, the ranch was pretty far away, a 40 minute ride with the road conditions. The snow was really picking up tonight. However, this meant the tubing was fantastic. The ranch has a whole lift just for tubes! Last year I went tubing at a place downtown called Howelson Hill and we just rode a sort of moving walkway up a hill (called a magic carpet) with our tubes to come sliding down. At Saddleback Ranch tonight, however, their hill was twice as tall and the lift was specifically made for tubes. Each tube is just an inner tube like we use to tube on a river, but it is covered with fabric and has a hard plastic bottom and a handle. To drag the tube, just hold the handle and drag it along behind like a puppy. So, their lift was pretty easy. At the bottom we sat in the tube at the bottom of the lift. the lift consisted of a wire with straight bars that act as hooks. We simply sat in the tube, and the operator attached the handle to the hook and we were dragged up the hill. once at the top, we were automatically unhooked from the hook by sliding down a small incline. We had a fabulous time tubing. We had an hour and a half and we made the most of it. We usually raced each other down by taking a running start at the top and sliding down belly down on the tube. It was a blast. It snowed very hard the whole time too, so the course was nice and slick. Also as we were pulled up the hill we had a small pile of snow in our laps by the time we were at the top. We got so covered in snow. Not only from the falling stuff, but very often while tubing down, we’d slide through the sides and get covered in powder. I flew through some powder head first and came out looking like a snowman. It was cold, but hilarious. I’ve never been so covered in snow before.
I’ve added some pictures of us tubing and standing in the snow below. If you can’t see the images, be sure to check out http://markandjoannatravel.blogspot.com