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.

Winter is back – really!

After what could optimistically be described as a disappointing ski season last year, it appears that Mother Nature is trying to win back Lake Tahoe’s affections.  She succeeded this month, with a series of big storms that left up to 94 inches of snow before and after Christmas.  The ski resorts couldn’t be happier, and frankly, neither could I.

The timing has been awesome, as many local’s season passes are blacked out during this holiday period, reducing the bum rush to get the untracked powder.  We’ve enjoyed relaxed days at our favorite ski resorts, lapping areas that typically are tracked out in minutes. Despite the holiday crowds, we also found untracked snow and few people at some of our favorite backcountry stashes as well.

While the snow volume appears to be slowing down for now, cold temperatures are forecast for next week, ensuring great mid-winter snow conditions will stick around.  At least until the next storm shows up.

Need proof of the awesomeness?  See below.

Trimmer bonus run from TahoeJenn on Vimeo.

Le Retour de Winter

Backyard furniture under snow | Lake Tahoe

Guess it’s time to put away the patio furniture. Photo: N Miller

It’s back.  At least for this week.

(Old Man) Winter made his entrance in grand style this week, leaving a LOT of snow in his wake.  This morning my little Subaru got hood shots as I drove through the untracked snow on my street.  The ski resorts have been excitedly posting photos and updates as the snow totals mount (1-3 feet, if you’re curious).  Heck, one’s even going to open this Thursday for the day, clearly breaking some sort of California record.

Considering Winter didn’t really show up last year, it was good to see him, even if some might argue mid-October is a tad early.  Sure, the mountain bike trails are now covered with up to three feet of new snow, but you know what they say about making tracks while the snow falls, right?  So we did just that today, getting out for some kick ‘n glide in the local meadow and golf course.

Xc skiing near Lake Tahoe

First tracks of the season.

While this may only be a preview for the time being, I’ll take it.  Even if I still can’t locate my car snowscraper.

Memorial Day Snow = Mountain Biking Bliss

Cloudy views of Lake Tahoe

Cloudy views of Lake Tahoe

It’s been a depressingly low snow year at Lake Tahoe this season, but I should not have been surprised to see snow here this weekend.  After all, it’s Memorial Day, which typically brings this type of weather.

Banked turns & snow

Banked turns in the snow

Snow and rain means the equivalent of a powder day for mountain bikers.  Despite still freezing weather on Saturday, we bundled up and went exploring.  Lower trails were the order of the day, and we weren’t disappointed.  Just a tad cold.  But it was worth it, even if it did take my feet more than an hour to thaw out.

Smiling even though I can’t feel my feet

Trail conditions should be fantastic now that the clouds have cleared, which is where I’m headed this morning.

No April Fool’s Joke

April powder snow at Lake Tahoe

Best April Fool's day ever.

12-21 inches of powder – the light and dry ‘white room’ kind- fell at Lake Tahoe yesterday, making today a very memorable (if busy) day at the ski resorts. Despite the hoards of hungry powder-seekers, we were able to find fresh tracks most of the day, though admittedly we did spend our afternoon in a secluded backcountry location.

This storm – heck, this week’s storms – have helped make March a true miracle this year. Snow totals for the month are upwards of 100 inches, making up for some of the pain felt here this season. And with a few more weeks to the ski season (first resort closings are April 15), it’s not a bad time to make hay (or ski tracks) while the ski lifts are still running.

Miracle March Delivers

Tree skiing at Heavenly

Miracle March indeed.

It’s not unusual for the Sierra to see some huge storms in March.  After a less than stellar snow season, all eyes were on this month to deliver.  Mother Nature (or the jet stream, depending on your beliefs) did not disappoint.

Powder Skiing Lake Tahoe

N testing his fat skis out during Miracle March.

We saw rain and snow all last week, with the big storm arriving Friday.  By Saturday morning the resorts were reporting between 30-48 inches in a 24 hour period, with another 2-15 inches by Sunday morning. Storm totals for the week were as high as 7 feet.

Light powder snow at Tahoe?

Light powder snow at Tahoe?

This was the storm that many of us had been waiting for, and no doubt there were loud hollers of powder joy at ski resorts throughout the area.  N and I are sporting the tired, silly grins of two people who skied a lot of deep snow this weekend.

Fresh powder even on the last run of the day at Kirkwood.

Fresh powder even on the last run of the day at Kirkwood.

While spring technically begins in a few days,  it feels like winter just arrived.  And as far as I’m concerned, it’s welcome to stay awhile.

Snow, cougars and the hope for a big March

Fresh snow and Sierra views

It was worth the climb.

Lake Tahoe hasn’t caught much of a break this winter.  First there was no snow.  Then there was snow, but not enough to make up for a dry December (and November).  Then came more snow, followed by spring, followed by cold, then more snow, followed by hellacious winds.   Backcountry conditions here, which are typically stable, have been anything but of late.  As a result, there have been two rare fatalities within the last week.  And a lot more digging of snow pits.

So, this winter.  It’s not over yet.  And many of us are holding onto the hopes that March comes in like a cougar and leaves like a lion.  Or something like that.  Next week is already looking promising.

Despite my natural tendency towards pessimism, I’ve made a conscious effort to make the most of the snow when it hits, and today was no exception.  Yes, high winds had affected the snow and lift operations at many local ski resorts, but we knew that moderate angle north facing trees would probably deliver.  And they did.  Boot top powder, deeper in places, and super light thanks to overnight temps that hit the low teens and didn’t really feel much warmer by the time we got out there.

N making steezy hippie powder turns

N making steezy hippie powder turns

It was just a quick morning lap, but the snow was good, the rocks were few, and I actually passed a few folks on the uptrack, confirming that maybe I don’t suck as much as I think I do.

Here’s to next week delivering even more snow. With far less wind.