Change of season: Powderhorn closing marks start of spring, summer activities in Colorado

Sometime late this afternoon, numerous garage closets across the Grand Valley will creak open and out will come the golf clubs and in will go the skis and snowboards.

When the doors close, winter goes, too.

Forget that the calendar says spring began March 21. Today’s closing of Powderhorn Resort for the 2009-2010 ski season really marks the last day of winter for many local residents, and with it a change of attitude about how to spend those recreational hours.

Those of us not quite ready to give in to plaid shorts, tee times and a new set of golf shoes still can enjoy one last run down Powderhorn’s slopes. The lifts won’t close until 5 p.m. and the resort this week has been blessed with plenty of new snow.

Actually, the whole season has seen some amazing snow conditions at Powderhorn, starting with that opening day storm that ushered in the season.

“It was pretty dry right up to then and then we had that magical storm right before we opened,” Powderhorn spokesperson Sarah Allen said. “Since then, it’s really been incredible.”

There was that three-week dry spell in January in which the entire state virtually went snowless, but then El Ni&#241o started piling up storms.

“It’s been really consistent, we had almost weekly storms,” Allen said.

The resort received 10 inches of new snow Tuesday night, boosting the base to an impressive 66 inches, among the deepest in the state.

“I just added up the numbers and for the winter season we’ve received 257 inches of snow,” Allen said Wednesday.

That isn’t the record, which fell in the winter of 2007-2008 when 340 inches were recorded.

“But it’s a pretty good second place for the past five years,” she said.

More snow was forecast for Friday and Friday night, meaning early risers can get a choice of first tracks or fresh-groomed slopes.

As is typical with closing weekends at resorts around the state, Powderhorn isn’t going away quietly.

Saturday was the popular Slush Sprocket Race, bicycles taking over for skis and boards for at least one run, and today is the inaugural Pond Skim Contest, wherein contestants vie to see who can skim the farthest across a 96-foot long pond.

The resort says the event is open to anyone with a brave spirit, but a wet suit might also be handy.

Those of us a little bereft in the daredevil spirit or wet suit department can enjoy the competition from the Sunset Grille.

Crested Butte and Telluride close their lifts for the last time this year on April 4, but Purgatory just can’t seem to let go.

That resort, its more than 200 inches of snow this year a boatload of snow for southwestern Colorado, originally was scheduled to close today but instead will extend its season to weekends through April.

Starting Friday and throughout the month, weather and snow conditions permitting, the resort will reopen Fridays through Sundays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Don’t look for Powderhorn to extend its season. When the thermometer hits 60 degrees in the valley, those crisp mornings of fresh snow quickly are forgotten.

“Besides, a lot of our employees are headed for the river,” Allen said.

Look on the bright side. Opening day is only eight months away.

Fishing reports now on the Web: Regular readers of The Daily Sentinel’s Outside section might be wondering where the fishing report has been hidden.

Because the two reports we obtain can be quite lengthy, the reports now are online at http://www.gjsentinel.com/outdoors.

The paper receives a mid-week report from the Colorado Division of Wildlife, along with an early week Lake Powell report from Utah fisheries biologist Wayne Gustaveson of Page, Ariz.

The latter usually arrives on Tuesday, although weather and Gustaveson’s other responsibilities sometimes delay the report a day or two.

The benefit of putting the two reports on the Web is being able to publish the entire report without the heavy editing required to get something to fit the shrinking amount of space available for printed reports.

The drawback, of course, is you have to go online to find the reports.

The Lake Powell report is running now, and the DOW begins its statewide report later this spring.

To get Gustaveson’s words directly from him, plus links to other informative Lake Powell sites, check his Web site at http://www.wayneswords.com.


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