The 2nd Annual All-Tahoe Clothing Swap

2014 All Tahoe Clothing SwapLast year, in a fit of relative spontaneity, some friends and I decide to throw the mother of all clothing swaps. The All-Tahoe Clothing Swap, held at the American Legion Hall in South Lake Tahoe, was more successful than any of us had imagined. So much so that we had to do it again.

Mark your calendar for May 13th. That’s when the 2nd Annual All-Tahoe Clothing Swap returns to the American Legion.   Like last year the event is open to everyone, and the price of admission is low – a canned good or other nonperishable item for local charity Christmas Cheer.

If you’ve never been to the All-Tahoe Clothing Swap, here are three reasons why you should make it a priority this year.

  1. It’s free – I’m going out a limb and calling the price of a few canned goods a great trade for some new clothing. Last year’s event also featured shoes and accessories, a nice bit of added value.
  2. It’s fun – While shopping at the American Legion may seem an unusual location for a shopping spree, consider this fact: it has a bar. Plus you don’t have to worry about what that armload of clothes is going to run you in the end (see #1).
  3. It’s for a good cause – In addition to supporting Christmas Cheer, the All-Tahoe Clothing Swap also provides those remaining clothes to local charities.

More information (including clothing drop-off locations) can be found at the event Facebook page.

My Badass Friend

Skier jumping off cliff

Meghan sending it at Kirkwood

My friend Meghan is one part badass, two parts fun and a whole lot of inspiration.   She loves skiing more than I do (which says something), and has found her bliss doing just that, which has entailed travels, sponsorship and a lot of jumping.  She’s an adventurer and scientist who also serves as the head of the Northern California Chapter of SheJumps, an organization whose mission, increasing female participation in outdoor activities, is one that is both awesome and so fitting.

Because that’s clearly not enough, she’s now organizing a ski and sail expedition to Iceland and Greenland.

I had a chance to interview her for the TahoeSouth blog.  Check it out, and if you’re feeling inspired, donate to her fundraising campaign. 

And then it snowed

Snowy chairlift ride

So apparently all it took was a blog post.  It started snowing in late February, leaving the Tahoe ski resorts with up to 4 feet by the time the week was up.

Feels like winter

Feels like winter

The first weekend in March attracted every powderhound within a 500 mile radius – or so it seemed.  So after a day at the resorts with 12,000 of my closest friends, I spent the next day going for a stroll with N.  Nice views and great snow for the top half of the descent made for a fun morning.

Nice day for a walk.

Nice day for a walk.

The old man appears to be back for now.  But there’s no harm in continuing to drink for snow, right?

Tahoe Winter Update

telemark skier tilt shift kirkwood

Tiny boyfriend enjoying some fresh snow at Kirkwood over Presidents Day weekend

You might have noticed that I’ve not posted much about this winter.  I’ll be honest – it’s not been an ideal year for crowing about those 2-4 foot Sierra storms that leave nothing but grinning skiers in their wake.  Certainly the ski resorts have been able to make a lot of decent snow to cover the groomers (and I’m grateful they have).  But it’s been the year to travel for backcountry turns, which we have done.  That does get expensive, especially when one has a season pass and a home in what usually is a pretty awesome ski destination.  So we’ve made lemonade out of the situation, skiing the resorts because that’s where the snow has been, enjoying more early afternoon beers with friends than I typically do, and generally trying to chill the F out about things that I cannot control.

But after a few late-in-coming storms, it finally feels like winter, assuming you’re at the ski resorts or up above 7500 feet.  Upper elevations are surprisingly well covered, considering that the lower elevations and lake level have little to no snow left.  I had heard that conditions at Kirkwood were good, and confirmed that over the weekend.   Let’s just say that if you looked carefully you could find chalky snow and ski lines that you didn’t think would be possible this season.

That said, I’d be happy if March lived up to its ‘Miracle’ name of yore, both for my personal desire to have some powder turns as well as the state’s painful need to combat the drought.   The storm that’s forecast to arrive later this week certainly helps, but we need more.

Since this whole snow dancing thing didn’t work to well in my favor (I danced, I swear), I’ve turned to drinking for snow, which is inherently more enjoyable.

Who wants to join me?

Anticipating winter

Snowy trees Oct 2013

Even after all these years of living in the mountains, I’m still so excited by the promise of winter.  This year is no exception.  I returned home from Nashville (post to come) late Sunday night to a storm, including winds, lashing rain and sleet.  When I woke up the next morning and drew back the curtains, I saw this.  And promptly got giddy.

Snowy backyard

This time of year brings out the kid in me.  It’s the only season where the weather can generate both adrenaline and the promise of possibility.  Will it snow tonight? Will it snow a lot? Will I see more powder days this year than last? Ski those lines I’ve dreamed about? Learn how to jump (and land) things more than a few inches high?

To me, the snow and cold weather at this time of year is inspiring.  Walking the dog, not typically a thrilling task, is just that when the air is crisp and there’s snow on the ground.

I know the weather is forecast to change tomorrow, but I’m going to revel in the inherent optimism that the promise of winter brings now.

Time to go practice my jumps.

Mountain biking the Tahoe Rim Trail (in the snow)

Snowy singletrack

We humans are an inherently optimistic bunch.  How else to explain lottery tickets, multi-level marketing schemes, and blind dates? Or in my case, signing up for our local mountain biking organization’s annual 60+ mile (self-supported) ride along the Tahoe Rim Trail?

The Rose to Toad’s ride is usually held over Labor Day weekend.  This year, due to the smoke from the Yosemite Rim Fire, it was postponed until later in September.  I knew this would mean cooler temps (a plus), but didn’t count on snow.  Or a sub-freezing start.

When the forecasters proved correct on Saturday, the rain and sleet had me rethinking my gear (and my sanity).  In went the hand warmers, beanie and extra layer, out went the shorts and fingerless gloves.  I appeared to be dressed more for skiing, but I knew that because the ride started at 8750 feet, at 7 in the morning, I’d be a lot less miserable, even if I ended up carrying it in my pack for much of the ride.  Which, for the record, I didn’t.

A group of 45 hardy (or foolish, depending on your perspective) mountain bikers showed up at the meeting point just shy of 6 am yesterday.  The day dawned clear and very cold, and though we started a bit later than anticipated, it was still below freezing.  The first section of the Tahoe Rim Trail is scenic and beautiful, though much of it covered in snow, making for interesting riding conditions.  By the time we got to the Flume trail, the snow had melted, which proved to be tacky goodness.  It wasn’t much warmer, but that just encouraged me to keep moving.  TAMBA, which organized the ride, had a much welcomed rest stop at the top of Spooner Summit by the start of the next section of trail.  Who knew packet hot cocoa could taste so good?

Our plan all along had been to make it to the Van Sickle Trail and descend it to the Himmel Haus for a much needed beer.  By the time I got halfway up the next climb to the Bench, I was wondering if that was too ambitious.  The snow had begun to melt, leaving the trails a slushy, muddy mess.   I was getting a bit tired by this time too.  And grumpy.  Let’s just say this section of the ride is one I’m happy to forget.

hoe Rim Trail to the Bench

big views, long trails

The Bench was the next section, and is a great ride unto itself.  The descent back to Kingsbury Grade, while muddy, was one of the ride’s highlights.  I think it was because it was mostly downhill, and I was tired enough to roll over some of the technical sections I have a tendency to overthink.  Mud in the teeth was a sign that I was grinning during this part.

There was another rest stop before our final climb to the Van Sickle trail.  The trail angels had thoughtfully provided chain lube and brushes, allowing riders to clean the decomposed granite and other grit off their derailleurs. This isn’t something we typically need on a Tahoe mountain bike ride, so it was a nice touch.

From here we climbed up.  The hard-core folks continued up along the Tahoe Rim Trail to Star Lake and then over Freel Pass up to the start of Toad’s (see map).  We did not.  We dropped the Van Sickle trail, one of my favorite trails, and it was a terrific end to the ride.  Trail conditions were the best I’ve seen, making for one smooth and fast descent.  From there it was a short climb up to Heavenly’s California Lodge area and the Himmel Haus.

A beer has never tasted so good.

Total stats: 43 miles, a LOT of up and down, and lots of calories expended.

If you go:

Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association – These guys organize this event, so if you’re keen to try it, you’ll want to join the organization first.  Then you’ll want to help out with a trail day or two (so you feel really good when you ride that section of trail).  Also, get some miles in on your mountain bike.  This is a self-supported ride, and while there are a number of bail-out points, they are not as frequent as you might think.  (Trust me, I speak from experience here.)

Tahoe Rim Trail Association – If the entire Rose to Toad’s ride is daunting, why not take it in sections? The Tahoe Rim Trail offers maps and information on its website.  You can feel extra good about yourself by becoming a TRTA member too.

The bunny whisperer

soleil stick small

When we moved into our place 2+ years ago, we inherited a brown lawn.  Attempts were made to reseed it and resuscitate it, but it became apparent that it needed replacing.  I joked about keeping it indefinitely and hosting a Dead Sod Bocce Tournament, but that never came to fruition, and our backyard just ended up looking janky.

We finally got around to replacing the lawn a few weeks ago, and it’s a much needed improvement.  That said, we’ve discovered a problem, albeit not one that was expected.  Our main concerns were that our white dog would end up green after discovering the joys of rolling in it, or that she would create lots of dead spots where she peed on it.

Neither of those two things has become an issue.  Our problem?  Bunnies.

We’ve had rabbits passing through our yard since we moved in.  Mostly small, and mostly harmless, they never stayed long.  This was not thanks to our dog’s eagle eyes or interest in keeping the homestead safe.  It was because we had nothing for them to eat.

The arrival of a lush green lawn has made our backyard ground zero for the neighborhood’s rabbit population.  The eating of the grass isn’t so bad – it’s what they leave behind.   There are no real predators either, since our dog is useless at noticing them (even two feet away).  And attempts to encourage our dog to act as a predator have not worked.  So it’s now N’s responsibility to scare the bunnies away, while the dog wanders around the other side of the yard, sniffing and doing godknowswhat.

I’ve told this story to numerous friends, all of whom have dogs that would love to chase rabbits.  Many have offered to let us borrow their pets, and a few have suggested that said pet might be able to teach Soleil.  They are optimistic, my friends.

We, however, are not.  So we’re building a fence in the front yard, in the hopes it keeps those critters off our damn lawn.