Tahoe storm cycle hilarity

Well, the storm is here, and while many folks wish it were a few degrees cooler, it’s definitely snowing if you’re in the sweet spot elevation, which at this exact moment in time could be anywhere between 7000 – 7500 feet.  Apparently there’s a bit of a battle between air currents, and Alaska’s not kicking Hawaii’s butt with the aggression we need.  This explains the Armageddon like warnings about having sandbags, water and an extra side of beef on hand.

That said, we did go skiing today.  For something different, we headed to Heavenly’s Nevada side.  It’s snow report indicated 20 inches in 24 hours, and we knew that its higher elevation meant a lesser chance of encountering rain-soaked snow.  It didn’t rank up there with the best snow of the season, but it was fast snow, it was fun (it was skiing!), and there were very few people there.  That meant no lift lines and limited areas we could access off the 3 open lifts weren’t tracked out right away.

The snow being what it was, with interesting layers and a crust in places, you had to be on your game on your skis.  The slightest hint of imbalance, and well, you were going down, usually with enough speed to induce whiplash.  On every lift ride up, we saw at least one person on their back feebly moving their skis in the air in an effort to clamber out of the snow.  My giggling tempted karma, as it later happened to me after I went over a small rollover faster than I realized.  Wha-BAM.  Because I never to anything halfway, I found myself with a bleeding lip and a dazed expression when I finally untangled myself.  Luckily, Nils did witness the magic as it happened.  Unfortunately, he had no video camera to capture the incident.

But snow is snow, and stormy days are my favorite days, even if I’m required to dress in a silly amount of layers to keep warm.

The battle of the non-contiguous states is expected to continue through Monday, with the potential for a lot of snow, snain or rain.  I’ve got money that Alaska will win out, though the realist in me is wearing my waterproof jacket the next few days.

Awesome April Fool’s

I love it when Mother Nature plays an April Fool’s in my favor.  Winter’s returned, with up to 29 inches of new snow at the resorts today (and unsettled weather forecast through the weekend – WOOT!).

Due to work commitments I was only able to ski for a few hours in the morning, which meant heading to the resort 10 minutes from my house.  Heavenly was reporting 15-18 inches, but based on the winds yesterday I knew that depth would likely be in isolated pockets.  It was, but when I hit said pockets, it was very good.  Face shot good. Fat ski good.

As the saying goes about friends on a powder day (there are none), there’s a similar corollary about photos.

Looking forward to seeing if this April Fool’s thing extends into next week.   At the very least, it should make for great conditions this weekend.

Why Tahoe rocks

Because we measure storms in feet, not inches. This latest storm dumped another 5 feet in the mountains, and it’s now GAME ON for the ski resorts.  This latest storm came in a bit wetter than the last one, building a base and covering a lot of the rocks and other obstacles. Note that there are still a few lurking about, as we found on Heavenly’s Face run yesterday, so you still need to be aware of things under the surface.

It’s been a few years since we’ve seen this much snow this early in the season, and my legs are definitely not yet in shape.  After 3 consecutive days of skiing powder, I’m walking a bit stiffly.

But it is SO worth it!

Getting Smoked by Ski Instructors

So with the regular mountain biking I’ve been doing, I was feeling pretty good about my ability to keep up with others.  Until this evening.  I was invited to ride up Roundabout, a beginner trail at Heavenly with a neighbor and some of her friends to see the sunset.  It’s a standing Friday night ride, and everyone rides at their own pace up the sandy fireroad to the top of Heavenly’s Groove chair.  It’s a little over 1,700 feet of climbing from the Heavenly parking lot within a few painfully long miles.  The views at the top are stunning.  But the slog to get to it is akin to carrying stones up steep, sandy hills with every step forward resulting in two steps back.  And it didn’t help that every single person in tonight’s ride is a ski instructor (at Heavenly, natch), which gives them magical powers riding up this grunt of a hill – I swear none of the broke a sweat and they were all singing the entire way up.  I was dead last within 15 seconds, and I was definitely one of the youngest riders.

Truth be told the views on the climb up are breathtaking too, with more of Lake Tahoe visible around every switchback.  The problem for me was that I was sweating so hard that I was essentially blinded for most of it.  To top it off, I realized 3/4 of the way up that my hamstrings were screaming because I’d not extended my seat all the way – which for non-cyclists, is a sure way to crippling yourself.

The views at the top were lovely, and the descent was a fast fireroad of sand and hard switchbacks (yes, I was last on the downhill too.  Call it a well-honed sense of self preservation, and a long-standing love affair with my brakes).  But I realized that I am a singletrack aficionado, and while I’d climb that same elevation in a heartbeat on well-cut singletrack, I’m not so sure I’ll ride Roundabout again anytime soon.

But that might just be my sour grapes talking, seeing how I got smoked by a posse of ski instructors tonight.

Obnoxious Amounts of Snow

This week Lake Tahoe finally received one of the epic storms that results in snow days, road closures and lots of snow shoveling.  With 3-4 feet in a 24 hour period, and a storm total of around 8 feet, it’s been a huge boon for the ski resorts, tourism industry and water supply.  I’m pretty sure lots of locals called in sick yesterday, based upon the enormous crowd at the base of Heavenly’s Gunbarrel chairlift.  While I did pack my camera yesterday, I didn’t take many photos, as I was too busy skiing the 3 feet of new snow.  A few are below.

Heavenly powder day

Happy skier

We’re off to Mammoth tomorrow for a family ski trip.  Heard that mountain got some snow too, so it should be a continuation of this week’s fun.

Non-Epic Epic Rides

It’s been a smoky summer at Lake Tahoe, and the shifting winds and haze have made planning playtime a bit of a challenge.  So when we saw that the weather was slated to be clear last weekend we agreed a longish mountain bike ride was in order.  Since I’m not feeling all that bike-fit these days, N suggested a ride he termed as non-epic – ride the Tahoe Rim Trail from Stagecoach Lodge at Heavenly south west to Armstrong Pass and then head down to the lake and ride home – entirely on trails.  The views are spectacular, with sweeping panoramas of Nevada at the beginning…

Views of the valley

to wildflowers, gnarled juniper and murky lakes as we got farther along.  As riding goes, it’s not all that technical, just a lot of sand and quite a bit of elevation gain.

Freel in the distance

A lone patch of wildflowers by Star Lake

It ended up being around 28 miles with a mere 2,500 or so of climbing (this is not my definition of a non-epic ride).  And while I surprised myself on all the climbs, by the time we hit mile 21 I realized that I was spent.  And not all that interested in being in a bike saddle anymore, having spent nearly 6 hours in said seat.  Let me tell you, getting off the bike when we reached the house was nearly as awesome as the hot shower right afterward.  Nearly.

Trying to Stay Afloat

Life’s taken a busy turn of late, and various obligations have put things like blogging on the back burner.  That said, I’m hoping to resurface soon, with witticisms, new recipes and creative ways to humiliate the dog.

In the meantime, it’s spring time at Lake Tahoe – sun, blue skies and mild temps.  And with family up this weekend, I got to show them some of Heavenly’s stupendous lake views.  The below was taken from the top of the new high-speed Olympic chair.

Views from Olympic Chair