Yampatika ski program a ‘constant learning’ experience | SteamboatToday.com

Yampatika ski program a ‘constant learning’ experience

Brandon Gee

Steamboat Springs — Jada Lindblom is probably the only skier on Mount Werner with an ermine in her backpack. — Jada Lindblom is probably the only skier on Mount Werner with an ermine in her backpack.

— Jada Lindblom is probably the only skier on Mount Werner with an ermine in her backpack.

A Yampatika naturalist, Lindblom carries a fur of the short-tailed weasel as a visual aid for the “Ski with a Naturalist” program that she leads at the Steamboat Ski Area twice a week. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Lindblom guides groups large and small on an hour-long nature lesson along the beginner-level Why Not trail.

“It goes through a lot of good areas, and it’s good for all levels,” Lindblom said. “We have all different types of people who come on the tour.”

The program is an educational partnership between Yampatika, the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. and the U.S. Forest Service. Lindblom said many people on the tours don’t even realize they’re skiing on public lands. She said the partnership is part of the Forest Service’s commitment to encourage varied uses of its lands.

Lindblom said she has led as many as 30 people on past nature tours. But despite recruiting efforts, Lindblom’s tour lured only one participant Thursday. Webb Jones, a tour guide for the “Ambassador” program on the ski mountain, said he wanted to educate himself about his surroundings.

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“I just wanted to see what I could learn,” said Jones, who splits his time between Steamboat Springs and Fort Collins. “I’ve skied here for years and just wanted to learn more about the flora and the fauna.”

One animal Lindblom focused on Thursday was the black bear. She pointed out likely bear markings on trees and corrected some common misconceptions about the animals. Only a small portion of bear’s diet is meat, Lindblom said, and they are only partial hibernators. Although one could toss a hibernating marmot in the air without waking it, Lindblom said, a bear would wake up immediately if it was hassled.

Lindblom also described how bears get to “pig out” in the fall and told how they have the amazing ability to sleep through childbirth.

“I’m actually pretty jealous of the bears,” Lindblom joked.

Others might be jealous of Lindblom and her work.

“I love working outdoors and constantly learning things,” she said. “It’s a fun job for me. I can’t complain when I get to ski and talk about nature.”

Lindblom’s work has taken her throughout the West, and each new location has provided the learning opportunities she craves.

“Every place I’ve lived, I’ve had to learn more about that area,” said Lindblom, who is originally from New Hampshire. “It’s engaging.”

A widespread bark beetle infestation that has been chalked up to several causes, including natural cycles and global warming, could create yet another different environment for her to learn about while staying put in Steamboat.

“A lot of the trees on this mountain have been damaged by bark beetles,” Lindblom said. “Steamboat definitely had a lot of pine trees die off. People are still learning what’s going on and what can be done to prevent it.”