Because our group of friends had kids in tow, we chose ski-in/ski-out accommodations, meaning there would be no hellish schlepping of gear. We could store everything in lockers downstairs, where we had only to gear up and waddle 15 feet to the snow.
We rented a condominium at the Edgemont, just above the gondola. Ours was a new, chic two-bedroom with a full stainless-and-granite kitchen (with Viking range), dining table, living room, washer/dryer, luxe bathrooms and a view of the children's terrain park, where kids would wave up at their parents midair. Downstairs were a heated pool and hot tub.
Well aware of my inclination to get lost and ski out of bounds, Indigo and I took a lesson the first morning to get the lay of the land. Our instructor didn't do much instructing, but we did learn the mountain, which is actually six peaks linked by 18 chairlifts. The best part was when he took us through the trees and into that champagne powder. We live in California, where Sierra cement is the norm, so this was Indigo's first time in powder. "It's like meditating," she yelled as she whipped past me, "so calming." Not that the child has meditated for even a single second.
We ate some dinners in the condo, thanks to a supermarket at the base of the hill, reached by Edgemont's free shuttle. One afternoon we took the shuttle into Steamboat Springs, where we bought big-buckled Western belts and wool-lined boots at F.M. Light & Sons, had tea and scones and bought books at Off the Beaten Path bookstore and cafe, procured fudge at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and joined Steamboat resident friends at the decidedly non-cowboy Bistro C.V. for dinner. Indigo, who survives on mac 'n' cheese, ordered grilled romaine with garlic truffle dressing, Chinook salmon tartare and a Wagu beef burger with foie gras and aioli. Amazing what tree skiing does to an appetite.
Steamboat was founded in the early 1800s by fur trappers and still has that frontier look. It houses about 10,000 Mountain Hardwear-and-cowboy-boot-wearing locals, a five-block stretch of movie set-style brick buildings and a disproportionate number of Winter Olympics athletes.
The area is also known for its thermal springs, so one snowy afternoon we headed to Strawberry Park Hot Springs, seven miles outside town. The pools are surrounded by trees and mountains and are contained by a series of rock walls stepping down the valley. Seeing humans crouched in the steaming water — eyes half-mast, snowflakes coating their hair — I was reminded of the blissed-out snow monkeys of Japan.
The following day we flew out over the Rockies in all their craggy, rumpled splendor. It had taken me 30 years to ride a horse in the snow, but I'd done it. And I'd also done things that reminded me of how well life had turned out, including watching my daughter out-ski me in the trees.