South Lake Tahoe - week 3 (with Yosemite)

Published: March 1st 2018
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Wednesday – Tuesday, 21-27 February

On Thursday we went to Carson City, the capital of Nevada, which is about 35km from South Lake Tahoe. Dwayne wanted to check out the Nevada State Railway Museum and we spent an interesting 2 hours looking at restored steam trains and learning about the history of rail in the wild wild west. We ate at iHop for lunch. It’s your typical American diner atmosphere with booth seats and they serve pancakes, waffles, crepes, omelettes and a small smattering of savoury items. Done it once, won’t be going back.

We had an AMAZING day of skiing on Friday for Dale’s birthday. We went to Kirkwood after they’d had 25” of snow in the previous 48 hours, and it was epic. Powder everywhere you looked, avalanche control blasts over the backside and only a handful of tourists and the usual locals to enjoy it all. Dale decided to hit The Wall, which is Kirkwood’s famous double black diamond run. It’s not for the faint-hearted – it’s literally a wall of snow against a concave cliff face! We weren’t game to try it but Dale conquered it without issue. Dwayne hit a hidden rock when we were doing first tracks and hurt his shoulder because of the awkward way he face-planted, so we took a break back at the village and Dale continued on by himself for the rest of the day (although he did he see us from a distance in the arvo). It was just as well because he ended up hiking up ridges and skiing down ridiculously inclined slopes in search of fresh tracks, which he would never have done with us. Dwayne and I went back out after the break and did nothing but off piste runs, even finding powder at 3pm in the afternoon! It was physically draining, as it is less efficient on the body than groomed runs, but it was tons of fun to master black runs in those tougher conditions.

We finished his birthday with expensive but average Indian.

I had asked Dale what he wanted for a birthday present and he wanted an experience, so we organised a weekend in Yosemite. Drove 5 hours south on Sabbath morning through little towns like Copperopolis, arriving at 2pm. We stopped at several places for photos of Half Dome and Bridal Veil Falls, before checking in to our glamping tent. It was basic but heated, which we were thankful for, given it was going to be a cool night. We did a brisk walk to Mirror Lake and took more pictures of Half Dome, and then hot footed it to El Capitan for sunset, to see if the famous “firefall” would occur. This is the phenomena where the sun hits Horsetail falls on sunset and it looks like fire embers are flowing over the falls. Unfortunately for us, this event did not occur due to cloud cover.

We went to the pizza deck for dinner and fell into bed around 9pm, hoping to be toasty with the heater. Major disappointment. The temp dropped to -19C and whilst our heater was pumping out 25C+ temps, the heat was rising to the rafters whilst we shivered under 3 blankets, dodgy beds and ground temps that reached with icy phalanges through the wooden floors. It was not a pleasant night, but it certainly was an experience!

On Sunday we defrosted over breakfast and then went to Yosemite Falls. From there we drove to tunnel view for that classic El Capitan pose. Words and photos really do not do this NP any justice. Everything is on an epic scale – the rocks are massive, the valley is massive, the falls are tall – there’s literally no way to explain how big everything is until you’ve seen it for yourself. It is almost impossible to capture on camera.

By lunchtime it was time to leave so we made our way to a Sequoia grove called Merced Grove. It was a 3-mile return hike down a steady incline and whilst I was concerned it would be too slippery in jeans and sneakers, it didn’t look too bad so we ventured out. The sequoias were gracefully gorgeous, the walk was intimate with only one or two other groups during the 1.5h trek, and even though the return was a steady climb that made the calves and hamstrings burn, it was a delightful walk that we all thought was worth it – even if we did slide a bit on the ice with our inappropriate footwear!

On the way home, we drove a different route with different little towns, including Raw Hide and Angels Camp. We stopped for a quick bite in Angels Camp and discovered it’s quite a little hotbed of Adventist activity. There were several AdventistHealth practices with Physios, Chiros and lab services and a large multi-storey clinic that was the largest building in town. We got to Kit Carson Pass just in time for sunset, and made it home in the dark in one piece. We were blessed with an amazing weekend from start to finish.

We had a dump of 1 foot of snow on Monday night, and Tuesday broke with bluebird skies so it was another amazing day of skiing. Spent time in the trees at Heavenly and successfully completed more mogul runs in a day than we’ve done in our entire ski history! If you’re going to tackle moguls, having them covered with soft powder is the day you want to do them. We all took 1-2 stacks throughout the day – usually when off piste in powder – but there was so much snow it didn’t hurt and the dryness of it just brushed off. Good times.

Tomorrow we check out Northstar before a large storm rolls in during Thu-Sat, dropping an estimated 5-6 foot of new snow. Which resort should we ski first on Sunday after the dump? Decisions decisions…

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