Greg Johnson: Kicking off summer |

Greg Johnson: Kicking off summer

In this photo: Greg Johnson and his outdoor mentor

The saying goes, “You come to Colorado for the winter, but stay for the summer.” Winter seems to offers an infinite amount of activities to enjoy on the weekend, but summertime always feels like a rush to get your fun in.

The window is small and your plans stack up quickly. By the middle of June your calendar is already booked with trips, obligations, weddings, etc. It’s rare to have an unplanned weekend.

But, last Saturday I was lucky enough to have that freedom.

I woke up thinking, “Should I climb, bike, hike or paddle? What were the conditions like in the Flat Tops and Zirkels?” I wanted to do everything all at once. I was overwhelmed with excitement and choices.

It was a phone call from a friend that solidified my plans.

“Dude, you have to ride Morning Gloria! Meet my wife and I at noon,” he said excitedly. “We might be able to jump on a raft later too.”

This classic Steamboat Summertime plan was exactly what I was looking for.

We headed up Emerald Meadows in the heat of the day around 12:30 p.m. At first my lungs felt like they were going to burst for the first 20 minutes of our ride. It didn’t feel great, but at least I was earning it.

I found my groove on the Morning Gloria trail and it was a pleasure to ride. I can see why so many people say it has become a favorite. A smooth uphill ride to the top of Emerald with a diverse selection of flora along the way had me smiling. The ferns were popping off and everything was so green after all the rain we had in May. Mount Werner looked like it had been cleaned, the snow melt left it bright in the distance.

We took our time going down Morning Gloria, up Larry’s and then down MGM and Molly’s on our way back to the parking lot. It was my first ride of the year to the top of Emerald and I was happy to have traversed Steamboat’s playground.

Back in the parking lot we had barely gotten off our bikes when we got a text telling us we had mere minutes before the raft was put on the Yampa River! Starving and in need of some cold beverages, we raced across town with a quick pit stop to stock up for the raft trip through town.

We met up with our crew at the Walton Creek drop in. Our pleasantly unexpected crew consisted of seven in the raft and two paddleboards on our flanks. This would be my first time rafting the Yampa in an actual raft.

One that day, June 13, the river still had some bite to it, both in height and temperature. The first section consisted of a nice, easy ride to be enjoyed with a few beers. The paddle boarders entertained us with some tricks, while those in the rafts sat back and relaxed.

As we hit the town section things picked up a bit. One brave rider jumped up front for the ride. Our river guide in the back picked out some fun lines and we all got splashed a bit by the frigid river water. The C-Hole and D-Hole waves both provided some big excitement for all of us as we paddled through. They are both the real deal when the water is that high.

We took out at the Transit Center and all piled in one truck as we shuttled back to our start. Although the day could have continued on afterward, a day in the sun wiped me out. Settling into the couch as the sun was setting I could help but notice the smile on my face the satisfaction that came with this classic, memorable day in Dreamboat.

Explore contributor Greg Johnson is from the Chicagoland area and moved to Steamboat in 2007. After two years away, the Yampa Valley Curse has brought him back to Steamboat Springs. Greg enjoys the outdoors and everything that Steamboat and Colorado has to offer. 

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