How did you spend Christmas 2021? We spent Christmas in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Every year, we are always asked what we received for Christmas, and each year we reply that we do not purchase gifts for one another; we haven’t for many years. For us, Christmas is not about buying or receiving “things.” We prefer to make donations to help those in need instead, and the need is great, for both animals and humans.
Steamboat Springs had recently received an abundance of snow, and we had yet to explore the area so a new adventure was calling us. And, since we both had Christmas Eve off of work, we headed up early that morning. While we did not do everything that we had planned, we had a wonderful time, ate delicious food and stayed at a fabulous hotel!
Friday morning as we neared the trailhead parking area along Rabbit Ears Pass, our plans got interrupted. A vehicle that had been following too closely behind the truck that was behind us went into the ditch and got stuck in the snow. Naturally, we pulled over to help, and thankfully another good samaritan with a truck also stopped. After about 20 minutes, the car was freed from the ditch and sped away on nearly bald tires.
Once warmed up, we drove to the Walton Peak parking area and prepared for our snowshoe adventure. As we geared up, a man drove past and loudly shouted out the window at us “Go be with your family!” Larry and I looked at one another, completely dumbfounded. What an odd thing to say to someone just because they want to do something outdoors on Christmas Eve. We still laugh about this.
We took off on the Walton Peak Trail. The snow was deep and powdery, which meant we would have a great workout. And since there were only skin/ski tracks, we broke trail alongside of them with our snowshoes (you shouldn’t snowshoe inside of skin/ski tracks if it can be avoided; sometimes it can’t). The beginning of the trail is in an open meadow and then veers off to the left, taking you into the tree line where you begin a very gradual climb.
In some areas, the trees were very dense, resulting in narrow sections of the trail. In those areas, I had no choice but to snowshoe in the skin/ski tracks. But otherwise, I broke trail through the glorious deep snow, sometimes sinking up to my knees. This is what I love to do: the greater the challenge, the greater the reward. Breaking trail and embarking upon the off beaten path is what we both relish.
We continued a gradual climb until we reached the point on the trail where it forks. You can either continue straight, or you can branch off in two other directions. This is also the point on the trail where there is slight avalanche risk. We decided to turn around and head back to the trailhead. Heading down, I had been a bit disappointed that we hadn’t gone further, that is, until we left the shelter of the trees and reentered the open meadow.
Immediately, the wind and snow slapped us with a bitter, unexpected greeting. Needless to say, we traversed as quickly as we could back to the Tahoe. The temperature dropped dramatically, and it was cold! The important take away lesson here is that the weather can feel quite different in an open area versus in an area sheltered by the trees. We had only completed 2.67 miles, but we had a great time exploring a new area. And, it was our first snowshoe trek of the season, which was a great warm-up for testing Larry’s new Tubbs Flex VRT snowshoes.
The next morning, Christmas Day, we got to a much later start than we had planned. Our plan for the day was to cross-country 10 miles on the Spring Creek Trail and then find another trail elsewhere to explore afterward. We parked at the Spring Creek Trailhead and skied up the trail. There is only a slight incline, so it was relatively easy. Surprisingly, there were a lot of people and dogs enjoying the trail with us. Naturally, I had attempted to pet all of them, although most were having way too much fun to want to stop for pets.
On the east side of the trail there is Spring Creek, and the location of the Spring Creek Dog Park at the Lower Pond. It is primarily forested with some open areas to walk around. Once we had reached the first switchback on the trail, we encountered a very steep hill that we skied up before coming to a stop at a metal gate; the rest of the trail was closed off for the season. That being the case, it cut our expected 10 mile trek down to 3.65 miles. Huge bummer.
The trek back down to the Tahoe was a breeze, and once we were finished, we decided to head back up to the Rabbit Ears Pass area to find another trail to explore. Once parked in the Bruce’s Parking Area, we both stepped out of the Tahoe and quickly got back in. The wind had picked up, gusting snow everywhere. It was cold! At that point, it was about 3:00 pm and the sun would be going down in about an hour or so. We decided to call it a day and drive around inside of the Yampa Valley before heading back to the hotel.
The next morning, we enjoyed a great breakfast at a familiar restaurant, and had planned to snowshoe up to Rabbit Ears Peak. However, Larry suggested that we head home instead because up the upcoming storm. Thank goodness for his wonderful sense of intuition, because shortly after we left that area, the pass had closed. We both needed to get back to Aurora so we could work the next day. Even though our adventure never came to fruition, at least we got home safely.
FINAL THOUGHTS: We had so much fun spending Christmas in Steamboat Springs, yet we did not do everything that we had wanted. However, we will return another time, as well as visit during the summer to kayak, bike and fish. This had been a wonderful Steamboat Springs Christmas Adventure!
Only on occasion do I make mention of lodging and food venues. However, we had such a great experience that I must mention it this time. For a fantastic place to stay, I highly recommend Residence Inn by Marriott. And for amazing food, I enthusiastically recommend Mahogany Ridge Brewery.