Tag Archives: skiing

Early Spring in the Eastern Sierra

Darlene and I loaded up the cats and the camper van in late March and headed out for an extended, month-long trip.  After a few days of skiing at Alpine and Homewood from the Tahoe house, we headed down to Bishop and Mammoth for some more skiing, as well as mountain biking and other exploration in the surrounding area for a few weeks while camping out on public lands.

We biked around the Mono Craters area, found a nice wading pool just outside the now closed off Mammoth Hot Springs, hiked up to the still frozen South Lake and bailed out of a swim in the still-quite-cold Owens River near Bishop.

Despite all the time I’ve already spent in the Eastern Sierra (including attending high school in Bishop), we managed a few new adventures like biking up Coyote Valley Road, skiing at June Mountain, visiting the exposed “tuff” formation along Crowley Lake, winding through Chidago Canyon, visiting the petroglyphs along Fish Slough Road, and finding an eagle’s nest (with chicks!) in the Owens River Gorge.

In mid-April, it looked like a bit of snow was going to mostly hit the Tahoe area, so we headed back up to Tahoe for a few days to catch a bit of it before heading out again and north to Lassen.

Oh yeah, and we broke the van on a particularly rough road near Mono Craters – started hearing clunking noises from what turned out to be a very badly installed anti-sway bar.

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Skiing Through a Pandemic

In mid-January, we migrated up to Tahoe to spend a few weeks in the snow.  Darlene didn’t feel up to skiing with her current hip and ankle issues so I was just skiing solo, going out every other day while she kept busy at the house.

All of the resorts have implemented rules to keep folks from spreading the virus, like face coverings and social distancing around the lifts and resort, but of course you still see the usual sampling of not helpful behaviors.  I went to Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley on the quiet mid-week days and Homewood on busier days – around weekends and fresh powder days – so it was possible to avoid lift lines and sharing lift chairs.  (Sharing a six-person chair with one other rider seemed fine though.)  I planned on Northstar a couple of times, but one day the pass was closed due to a big rig slide out and the other day I saw how the required parking lot bus was loading up with people and decided to go elsewhere – plus it would seem that they’re insisting on loading solo riders every other seat on the chairs.  I’m not so keen on that despite the open air.

Started out with limited snow and seriously hard frozen stuff anywhere off the groomed runs from several weeks of warm weather but happily we then got a cold front and multiple heavy snows (5+ feet) over a week or two.  Lots of powder to play in.  Meanwhile, back at the house, we “relocated” a series of squirrels over a couple of weeks but I’m not sure we’ve caught the culprits living inside the vaulted ceiling.

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Last Week of Skiing

Darlene and I were up in Tahoe for ten days in early March right up until all the ski resorts decided to close down and the Bay Area counties decided to tell everyone to “shelter in place” to try to slow down the spread of Covid-19.  As it happens, Resi, Troy and Aiden joined us at the house just before that for those last two weekends – and we finally got a nice big snow storm this season – albeit on the last weekend for this unexpectedly shortened ski season.

These two weekends at Homewood (and Alpine Meadows during the week) made quite the contrast to each other: from getting pretty barren to turning warm and slushy to an overabundance of fresh heavy snow and people getting buried and digging out left and right!

On the first Sunday, Aiden finished up his “Super Sliders” season with a slalom race and awards ceremony.  On the last Sunday, with about two feet of new snow, all the major ski resorts had decided to close the night before but Homewood chose to go one more day – for a final huge powder day for passholders and advance ticket holders only.

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Colorado Ski Week

This year, Jon, Bill, Kat, Jim, Stan and I hit up Beaver Creek and Vail in Colorado for our annual week of skiing and board gaming. We started off the week with the remnants of a heavy snow storm (as in heavy, wet snow) for a rough first day full of new and old moguls.  It was also pretty cold with highs in the teens.   As the following day promised to be much colder, we all sheltered indoors for a day of gaming including Sushi Go Party, Chinatown, Bang!, King of New York, Instinct, Cheaty Mages, For Sale, and the card game version of Shadows over Camelot.  The following days turned warmer and even sunny and blue skies at times so we were happy to venture out and explore the slopes again.

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Who Needs New Snow?

It’s been a pretty dry January and February for snow in Tahoe, but we got the gang together at the Tahoe house for an early February weekend all the same. Darlene and I joined Greg, Erin & Merritt for a sunny Saturday at Squaw Valley and then Resi, Troy & Aiden at Homewood for a very windy Sunday.  But it would seem the wind didn’t slow down Aiden at all…

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Christmas in Tahoe

Christmas in Tahoe… fresh snow, skiing, snowshoeing, hanging a ceiling fan, playing new board games (Covert and Pandemic Legacy: Season 2).

 

But then… uh oh, my cat broke:

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Fresh Powder in May

We got a couple more storms in mid-May along with a nice cold snap to bring fresh powder to the slopes… yay!  I was able to head up with the cats and hit Squaw the morning after each storm and even just happened to catch Granite Chief moments after it opened on Sunday:

  

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Marvin the Martian Lands in Tahoe

Darlene and Marvin the Martian joined Resi, Troy and Aiden for the closing ski weekend at Homewood in Tahoe this past Easter weekend:

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Joslyn’s Visit

Darlene’s niece, Joslyn, came out from Wisconsin for her spring break from school and I think we managed to fill her time here.  We visited Shark Fin Cove, Pigeon Point Lighthouse, the Seymour Marine Discovery Center and saw dolphins while flying the drone from the sea cliffs near Pescadero.  We spent one morning to see the redwood trees at Henry Cowell State Park and a deserted Roaring Camp Railroads.  We introduced her to the sea otters at Moss Landing and got in a guided walk at Año Nuevo to see the elephant seals (lots of weaned pups at this time of year) and she and Darlene stayed overnight at the Monterey Zoo and fed the elephants.  Besides a couple of movie nights and several interesting board games, we also went up to Tahoe for three days so she could learn to ski – and she was careening down the mountain in no time!

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Sun and Snow in Tahoe

I was able to join Jon at Northstar and Bill and Kat at Heavenly for three days of skiing mid-week last week – and we had lots of sun and snow to play in.

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Utah Ski Week

Our annual week of skiing and board gaming didn’t happen last year but we did manage to get together this year in Utah.  Bill, Kat, Jon, Stan, Tom and I all hit up Alta, Snowbird and Solitude over five days.  We had plenty of snow and a few extra inches here and there over the course of the week.  We also got in plenty of gaming: Diamant, Sushi Go Party, Bang!, Slide 5, Decrypto, Cheaty Mages, Codenames: Pictures, Ricochet Robot, Cutthroat Caverns and a partial game of Fury of Dracula.

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Quite a Bit More Snow in Tahoe

Three weeks into February and Lake Tahoe ski resorts have already received record snowfall for the month: Squaw Valley got over 21 feet this month so far and nearly 43 feet for the season, and Homewood even more at 23 feet for the month.

Crazy!  As in awesome fun! Well, except when the roads are closed due to nasty, accident-prone weather conditions – we spent one Saturday night trying to get back to the house in Tahoe Vista from Homewood.  First the lake road was closed due to numerous accidents and when we finally tried to take the long way around via Truckee (and through some crazy whiteout conditions across the meadow below Northstar), they ended up closing Brockway Summit.  After taking a break in Truckee for dinner and going back around through Tahoe City, we finally made it back to the house by 10 pm – maybe only barely before the unplowed snow on Regency Way got too deep for us to pass.

Three bountiful feet of snow overnight and many resorts had trouble opening for Sunday morning.  (Squaw and Alpine didn’t and Homewood was overwhelmed with people and only one chair lift they could run.)  That pattern of three feet of new snow repeated again and again over the month.

Short video montage at Homewood, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows over February.

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Stormy Week in Tahoe

I went up to Tahoe last week (Monday through Friday) to catch a series of storms.  Monday night delivered a couple of inches on top of the old frozen stuff.  That made for some very rough and bumpy rides off of the groomed runs on Tuesday.  However, then we got a couple of feet Tuesday night but Wednesday was windy and gusting enough to keep the upper mountain from opening at Squaw or Alpine and eventually even closed the mid-mountain lift by noon at Alpine.  It was super wet and heavy snow too and way too tiring after the previous day so I bailed mid-day.  Resi, Troy and Aiden came up Wednesday afternoon and we got another couple of feet overnight.  Thursday proved to be fantastic and Troy and I spent all day making fresh tracks at Homewood until they started closing all the lifts on us.  Sheesh!  They stayed for another day but I had to head home to prep for the weekend.

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A Bit of Snow in Tahoe

We stayed up in Tahoe for a week and a half up to Christmas and got in a few half days of skiing at Homewood.  Not a lot of snow yet, but skiable. Christmas Eve day was mostly rain, but it eventually turned cold enough to get some new snow for Christmas Day.

    

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Mud and Snow in Tahoe

Troy, Resi and Aiden came up to the Tahoe house in mid-April to get a couple of last days in before Homewood and several other Tahoe resorts had their closing weekend.  Definitely spring skiing conditions with slush (and mud) at the bottom and, up top, overnight frozen snow turning too soft mid-way through the day.  But then, as they headed back to the Bay Area, the temperatures dropped and we got another snow storm Sunday night.  Jon joined me at Alpine Meadows and then Squaw Valley to enjoy a last couple of powder days for the season!

Troy got a friendly visit from a bear overnight.  He woke to find all four doors on his truck open and the evidence of a bit of ransacking from a dirty bear – so lucky it was unlocked or the bear might have broken in:

  

A cute little video of Pan falling asleep at the wheel:

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Return to Mammoth Mountain

I haven’t been skiing at Mammoth since the early nineties, after college, but it’s where I learned to ski in high school from nearby Bishop.  And I had forgotten what a great big and diverse ski mountain it is – though I’m sure I also wasn’t skiing as much of any mountain’s terrain back then either.  Anyway, driving to Mammoth from Santa Cruz/San Jose in the winter isn’t very convenient (given all the Sierra passes are closed) and  you have to essentially drive by many other great ski resorts to do it.  However, with an extended stay at our new place in Tahoe last week, it was easy to hop down to Mammoth for a couple of days (just a three hour drive) and make use of our Mountain Collective passes.

We got some nice, typical spring skiing conditions: overnight frozen snow, following the sun as the slopes softened up from east to west to north.  Plus Mammoth is so high (peaking at 11,000 ft), it was easy to avoid any sticky slush that would develop lower down.

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