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Steamboat Magazine

Mountainside: Summer Skills

04/01/2008 01:00AM ● By Eugene Buchanan

Spring-Summer 2008:

Mountainside: Summer Skills

by Eugene Buchanan

A dummies' guide to the Eskimo Roll    It sounds easy when Credence Clearwater Revival sings it. But rolling on the river takes a little work. Master the Eskimo Roll and one of the Yampa Valley’s best recreational resources becomes far more than a haven for tubers. Local kayak instructor, Sara Hamilton, kisses the cockpit setting up for an Eskimo Roll.

    The roll is actually not hard to learn, and the worst case if you miss one is you pop your skirt and swim. This will, however, cost you a round of beers for your buddies and some gentle ribbing. Here are four easy steps to the Eskimo Roll. The best place to learn is with an experienced friend or instructor in a pool or pond (we recommend Fetcher).     1. Kiss the cockpit: When upsidedown, press your face against the cockpit of your boat, bending at the waist. Not only will this protect your head from passing rocks, but it will also put you in the correct position to begin your roll.    2. Reach your right blade up and out of the water (opposite if you’re left-handed) and press it against the left side of your boat. Both hands should be out of the water, feeling the side of your kayak with your wrists for reference. Remember to reach up, not out.     3. Flatten and sweep: Cock the wrist of your control hand forward so the face of your blade is parallel to the surface of the water. Then sweep it across the surface in an arcing motion. Hint 1: Keep your right ear pressed to your right shoulder. Hint 2: Feel your left hand run alongside the bottom of the boat at the same time.      4. Hip snap: Practice snapping your hips while holding the side of a pool or holding a friend’s hands in the pond. When rolling, keep your head down (it should be the last thing out of the water) and snap your hips in an exaggerated hula-hoop motion while executing the sweep (# 3 above). Note: Nine out of 10 rolls fail because the head comes up too soon and people forget to snap their hips.

Everything Outdoor Steamboat -Providing outdoor opportunities for Steamboat’s youth     As people groolder, they reflect on passed-up opportunities and wonder what might have been. The road not taken? An option declined? Opportunity is everything with Everything Outdoor Steamboat. This Steamboat Springs Middle School program offers seventh- and eighth-graders chances at discovery well beyond their daily curriculum.

   EOS helps young people learn ice climbing skills, winter camping techniques, as well as gaining rock climbing, fly fishing, kayaking, mountain biking, snowboarding and backpacking experience. Basically, if there’s a skill Steamboat’s youth wants to add to their bag of outdoor tricks, EOS can provide the arena in which to do it. Everything Outdoor Steamboat's Lucy Newman surveys the scene near Shelf Road, south of Colorado Springs. Photo courtesy of EOS.

   Some may wonder if a program like this provides a necessary service. Youth in A Steamboat group doing these activities anyway, right?    “You’d be surprised homany kids here don’t have the opportunities to experience outdoor activities like these,” says Matt Tredway, EOS program director. “We want to offer recreational opportunities for the kids to try out lifestyle sports. Something they might love and participate in at high level for life.”

    EOS trips are offered at no cost to the students. Equipment, transportation, instruction, and food are provided. Sometimes, minimal fees must be charged depending on the trip logistics, which can get complicated. But otherwise, the program is fully funded through the Steamboat Springs Middle School spring tree sale, private donations and grants.     Instructors (usually teachers) volunteer their time. No taxpayer dollars are used.

    The EOS program started in 1987 and has been sputtering along over the years. Within the past four, however, Matt’s enthusiasm has caused a surge in popularity as trips have filled up fast.         Beyond the opportunity to learn neoutdoor skills, students are taught leadership, land stewardship, self-respect and team dynamics. “These activities and trips are a great attribute to their classroom education,” Matt says.

    Matt hopes EOS is an opportunity aspiring young Steamboat outdoors people won’t let slip by. He likes to paraphrase hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, reminding students that they’ll miss 100 percent of the shots they never take. Dig This

     As the nine-ton bulldozer teeters on the precipice, momentarily yielding a panoramic vieof the Yampa Valley, I consider a career move. Photo courtesy of Courtney Ed Mumm.

    As liberating as journalism is, at this instant, it holds nothing against the future I might have operating heavy equipment, moving thousands of pounds of rock, covering trenches and generally wreaking havoc like a workingman.

    Then the 19,000-pound “‘dozer,” as Dig This owner Ed Mumm calls it, comes thundering down the other side of the dirt pile with a crash that could knock the doors off my aging hatchback, and the engine lets out a throaty roar as I pull my foot off the decelerator and charge towards the next hill.

    Frustration and fun combined to give Ed the idea for Dig This. The NeZealand native and 16-year Steamboat Springs resident was a fencing contractor who couldn’t keep his friends away from his tools. “I got sick of people wanting to jump on my gear all the time and play with it,” he says.

    So last November, Ed started a heavy equipment instructional facility to teach locals and visitors what it’s like to operate big rigs found on construction sites. Along with two other investors, he rented land west of Steamboat, setting up an obstacle course where clients ploroads, pull carsized hunks of dirt and boulders out of the ground and work the earth in countless other ways.          “At 60 it was the best birthday present ever,” says Hank Edwards, whose wife organized a full-day outing for him. “It’s like being a boy playing with big toys. Real big toys.”     After moving thousands of pounds of dirt across Ed’s open field like a hardened big-rig jock, I can certainly relate. For info, call (970) 367-4402