Mother and son find Steamboat yule log for 2nd year in a row

Lynne Romeo, Cathi Yost, Jessica Yamashita, Kim Lohrer and Mirko Erspamer stand together around the 2020 yule log.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Mirko Erspamer said his face lit up when he saw the wooden log with red painted writing under a bridge at the intersection of Fish Creek and the Yampa River.

“Hello, log,” he declared as he and his mother, Lynne Romeo, found the annual Steamboat Yule Log for the second year in a row on the seventh day of the hunt.

The two took interest in yule log hunting three years ago, though their first year was spent only looking at clues published daily in the Steamboat Pilot & Today. They took their interest to a deeper level last year by physically searching for the log, which they found under a tree at the Howelsen Ice Arena.

While the clues and location change each year, Romeo’s and Erspamer’s routine does not: They wake up at 5:30 a.m. each morning, grab a newspaper and discuss what each clue, written by the Tread of Pioneers Museum, could mean. When they feel they’ve brainstormed adequately — usually around 6 a.m. — the journey begins.

“We do quite a bit of research when we look at the clues; we don’t just wander around and look,” Erspamer said. “That’s what makes it fun. You get to learn so much history that you maybe wouldn’t otherwise.”

Each clue is based on historical facts about Steamboat Springs, and after realizing some of their clue interpretations may have been incorrect, Romeo and Erspamer turned their experience into an opportunity to learn more about a city they love deeply.

“(The clue) may not be the right one, but we find these wonderful tidbits of Steamboat that give you an appreciation for how tough people were in the pioneer age,” Romeo said. “You find out these amazing facts about our valley.”

As for this year’s success, Romeo and Erspamer took Thursday’s clue: “Catch and release, just down below. Merge into one, increase the flow. Game and Fish, the big day. Find the log, time to play,” to mean the log must be near a creek or river, so they went walking down the Yampa River Core Trail and found the log.

Bannister said the hunt felt especially meaningful this year, because it was one of the few annual events the museum was able to host amid COVID-19.

“Because so much had to be canceled for so many organizations, anything that we’ve been able to continue safely during COVID has been extra special,” she said.

In addition to learning about Steamboat’s history through the clues, Romeo said finding the log also helped her feel like a part of that history, especially in a year with so many monumental events.

“For a second, you’re connected to everything that came before you and everything that will come after you in our little town of Steamboat,” she said.

For Romeo, waking up each day at 5:30 a.m. to begin the yule log hunt as early as possible, also became a way for she and her son to enjoy the peace and quiet of the city.

“We’re so lucky and blessed to have that here in Steamboat,” she said.


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