Outside with Charlie: Extended season

By From page A8 | April 02, 2014


Up until last Saturday, the many mountain bike trails in Lake Tahoe were mostly open and rideable, according to the Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association.

Recent storms have boiled up, and it seems now all the snow dances have paid off. The Tahoe ski resorts are all reporting around 2 feet or so of new snow. It’s also extended the season a bit.

That won’t keep some resorts from shutting down though. Homewood has closed. The cross country center at Camp Richardson has also closed for the season. Tahoe Donner and Donner Ski Ranch are open as conditions permit. Tahoe Cross Country is in the same boat.

Hope Valley Outdoors has shut the Yurt down for the season. Owner Joyce Coker said that while the falling snow made it tempting to stay open a bit longer, the ground was just a bit too warm to keep the snow cover for very long.

That doesn’t mean that cross country skiing and snowshoeing is over. This new blanket of snow has certainly made it possible to get out and schuss about. You still have to head up over 7,000 feet to do it.

Kirkwood Cross Country is still open. If you don’t have your own gear, you can rent it there. They are at 7,800 feet and there is good snow cover. If you’ve never been on cross-country skis or snowshoes, this is a good place to learn. Over Saturday night and into Sunday, they received 18-plus inches of snow, all powder.

The downhill crowd should be enjoying the new snow, especially on the upper mountain trails. Tree skiing is, according to some returning skiers, very nice right now. The key here is to get up there and take advantage of it. Waiting, at this time of year, for it to get better, isn’t a good bet.

The other news from the resorts is that the season passes for next year are on sale. The best prices tend to be now. A good definition of an optimist is anyone who buys a season pass for skiing.

It really is pretty nice up on the slopes now. The crowds tend to thin out around this time of year. With good new powder coating everything, it’s like having your own personal resort at times.

All of that is not to say that the bicycle crowd is out of luck. To the contrary, mountain biking, from 5,000 feet down, is good. The trails are a bit wet at the moment, which can be on the messy side of things, but generally worth the pedal time. Of course, that also means the trails can be slip and slides too. Good knobby tires can even that condition out, at least a little bit.

As in all things outdoors, common sense plays a big part in where you and your mountain bike ride right now. Waiting for conditions to dry out some won’t dampen the overall riding season too much. Sliding into a tree or rock, on the other hand, could dampen it quite a bit.

In choosing where to ride, the best resources for information are the local bike shops in the general area of where you want to ride. I haven’t been in a bike shop yet where all the employees and owners weren’t riders.

As we transition deeper into spring, keep one thing in mind: get outside!

Charlie Ferris

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