Coming Home From My Western Ski Vacation

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Last week I headed out west to the Lake Tahoe, California, region for some spring skiing. I really wasn’t sure how I would break the news to my blog readers that New England’s Ski Blogger actually skis in places other than New England. I know it is shocking, and you probably think less of me. I am sorry. I did it, and enjoyed it…a lot.

Home base was Reno, Nevada, not because I thought that would be the perfect place for home base, but because a friend of mine has a traveling nurse gig there and this whole ski adventure (though the other two in my gang are snowboarders) was meant as a visit with her.

We skied Mount Rose, Sugarbowl, Alpine Meadows and Kirkwood. Mount Rose was quite windy (though the sun was out and the sky was blue) the day I was there, and my feet fell asleep, which is a whole other story, but I’ll just leave the day at that.

After snagging a pair of comfortable rental boots, the next day we headed to very sweet Sugarbowl, where we skied perfectly sweet sugar snow. Well, it was probably corn snow, but we were at Sugarbowl so just let me call it sugar snow and also let me say sweet one more time. It reminded me of how much I love skiing on natural snow in the spring, when the snow sets up during the cold night, then corns up after the sun warms it during the day. Man-made snow gets a little like mashed potatoes or glue in the spring. I am not complaining. In fact, I think that we are lucky to have man-made snow, but I feel even luckier when I can ski on the real stuff.

If Sugarbowl was sweet, then Alpine Meadows was an even sweeter treat. First of all, our friend Courtenay, who my whole gang knew from our Killington days, had been living there for probably the last eight years. She is a California girl who had always wanted to live in New England. But, since she is a California girl, she eventually headed home.

We found her at Alpine Meadows on Easter Sunday in the kids ski area, dressed in a pink bunny suit, giving out candy (she teaches at the mountain part-time). We got to ride with her, and ski with her husband, as they swapped turns hanging with their precious one-year oldish daughter in the lodge.

Alpine Meadows is just past Squaw, practically around the corner from it. So if you ever head to the more popular Squaw you have to visit Alpine Meadows. There is very little real estate development there because most of the mountain is part of a national forest. The skiing was great, a perfect mix of everything from gentle slopes to challenging trails, but I think one of my favorite things was that they have recycling receptacles everywhere–at the top of the lifts, and at the bottom of the lifts. And people use them, which means they recycle their beer cans or soda cans rather than dropping them from the lift on the ride up.

We also headed to Kirkwood, because everyone I talked to before and during my trip raved about it. No disappointment there either.

Here is the surprising part, though. I thought that upon returning to eastern skiing I would feel let-down. I had just spent four days skiing in blissful spring conditions. How could I possibly ever write a ski blog about New England after skiing a whole bunch out west with sunny blue skies every day.

No problem on that concern. And if you skied this past Saturday at Mount Snow, you would know why. Mount Snow got a great dump just before the weekend. Saturday was definitely chilly, but the sun was shining all day and the snow was p-e-r-f-e-c-t. It was as though we just jumped right back into winter conditions, which I love. And what a treat to get those kind of conditions the last weekend of March. I think that you have to be a real skier or rider to understand the last sentence. But, if you are reading this blog all the way to this point, there is a good chance you are. And by the way, I am glad that you are.

With all this snow, spring skiing here in New England is going to be outstanding, as soon as Mother Nature decides that it is time to have spring skiing.

  • Alpine Meadows and Kirkwood are two of the gems on Lake Tahoe! I’m a Vermonter, yet have been able to travel around and have enjoyed skiing at some really great places outside of New England. The biggest differences I’ve found between the West and NE is the amount of sun, otherwise, those folks in the West tend to be spoiled. Seems that many of the locals only ski the back bowls after they’ve been packed down by others, and stick to the groomed trails whenever the snow conditions aren’t the greatest. Fine by me, left the back bowls almost empty every time I’ve been there, but the saying holds true, “If you ski NE, you can ski anywhere!” We New Englanders are a hardy bunch, capable of skiing the frozen crud and ice, etc., which tends to make us appreciate really nice conditions when we find them! Keep those tips up!


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