I have been skiing at Steven's since 1965. It used to be run by the Kehr family. They lived up there during the winter, in a little house where the east day lodge is now. We used to go up and stay there in my parent's Winebago as a family in the overnight parking lot on weekends. There were a few cabins up there, but you could never get one, the waiting list to rent, or buy one, took decades to get through because the Forrest Service severely restricted who could build up there, because it is Forrest Service land after all. And you know, the Forrest Service is more important than the people!
Steven's is literally where I grew up. And we used to ski from late november till mid may before the Forrest Service decided that we were encroaching on bear habitat by skiing that late in the year. Funny, I never saw a bear complaining about it. I didn't hang out with anyone from Issaquah on weekends in the winter. The only people I knew were the kids who stayed up at Steven's with their families. I really learned to ski in Jean and Dick Lyon's ski school up there when I was a kid. Jean and Dick ran their own ski school and mighty mite racing team, and they had a PNSA racing team for the older kids. Jean Lyon had been on the Canadian National ski team and had been in the Olympics. We all aspired to make it to the Olympics back then, like Jean. At the end of every year there was a local race called the Annual Steve Madison Small Fry race. My second year in it, a kid from White Pass won, his name was Phil Mahre, his brother Steve came in second. I came in eleventh, and I still got a trophy! It amazes me how many snowboarders have never even heard of the Olympic champion Mahre Brothers.
Their Lyon kids, Margaret and David were on the Lyon team too. They were both great skiers. David eventually took over the ski school. Then there was the McCann family, the Barrs, the Schoenings, the Evanrudes. Klev Schoening eventually made it to the US Olympic Downhill C team. Klev also climbed Mt. Everest in 1996 and ended up saving about ten peoples lives in the death zone on Everest, including his own. He is an all around mountain man if there ever was one. The list went on and on. My friend's families did too. A few of the families ran ski schools up there on weekends and I used to teach for one of them too when I got older. Fred and Fran Stray ran Ski King for years. I taught for them and I met my wife there, taught around a hundred kids to ski, passing the torch to a new generation. Then the Kehr's sold out. And everything changed.
The lodges got bigger, they put in quads, and there were more of them and ticket prices went up like they will have to do when you spend money to radically improve an area. And the crowds on the hill probably thinned out a little since it now cost so much more to ski up there. You can probably find out more about the secret runs from other posts. Because I am trying to explain what has been lost up there since the new owners have started winnowing down the "mom and pop" ski schools at this "mom and pop" ski area. The area has definitely been "Crystallized" into more of a big mountain feel. But have they thrown out the baby with the bath water? Who is going to teach my kids to ski? Who is going to teach their kids?
A few years ago, my wife's family started taking us to a hill called Sun Mountain up in Canada over the christmas holidays. You could rent a cabin actually on the hill up there without a decade long hassle because it was built on "private" land. You can literally open your door and put on your skiis and ski down to the lift there. It is perfect for families. It is a dream. You can watch your kids ski by your window at night while you sip spiced apple cider and curl up with your honey next to a roaring cedar fire. The thing I want to know is when will the Forrest Service recognize that human families ... and family life...are now the endangered species at Steven's?