January 14, 2013

It had been cold in the Sacramento Valley. Every morning for about a week I had awakened to freezing temperatures. This is pretty rare for this part of the world. Or maybe I have never noticed because I tend to spend a lot of time away from the area at this time of the year. But my morning walks to the gym had been pretty cold. So then I got the bright idea that if I am going to be cold I would just as soon be skiing. I am not sure what logic applied here because that makes no sense when you consider how much colder it is in the mountains.

But on a cold clear Monday morning I loaded up my ancient out-of-date skis and my equally ancient out-of-date body and headed up into the foothills. I kept watching the thermometer on the car sink lower and lower. I do believe that I never got as cold before they put thermometers in cars. In any case I pushed up the Sierras to my all time favorite ski resort, Sierra at Tahoe. Back in the day when I learned to ski there it was called Sierra Ski Ranch and it was run by the Mormons. This little tidbit is only significant because they did not serve alcohol at the resort back then. And the way I skied back then I preferred to be surrounded by sober skiers.


I unloaded my skis and realized that it was very cold. A little wind was blowing and it was causing surface effect snow where the snow is so cold and dry the wind picks it up and blows it into the air. In the Sierras we are more use to a snow that is more like a 7-11 slushy. We call it Sierra Cement. But it was not like that this day. By the time I bought my pass I was frozen. But I went up the hill any way.

As soon as I got to the top I realized that something was wrong. I was nauseated and my equilibrium was off. I immediately recognized it as altitude sickness. I had only had this once before, at Lake Tahoe, hiking a high peak by the lake. It was not a good feeling. It is pretty much like sea sickness and the only real cure for it is to lose altitude. I did that by skiing down to the lodge and going inside to thaw out, as I was frozen. I asked the lift operator how cold it was and he said it was -5 degrees. Yikes! That is cold.


Sierra at Tahoe map

After resting for a while I felt better and I headed out on the mountain again. While I was not myself the entire day I was able to ski until I got so cold once again that I had to stop. But as the day went on it got warmer. It eventually topped out at 28 degrees which is tolerable. The sun was shining the entire day which really made for beautiful scenery. I am not certain but I think the reason I go skiing is as much for the view as it is for the sport.

At 3 o’clock I had had enough and headed back to the car. I drove in to South Lake Tahoe and checked in to Harrah’s. The room rates at this time of year make it cheaper to stay at Harrah’s rather than drive home. After a long hot shower I found some extra beer there and a good meal up in the buffet. So in spite of everything this day turned out to be a solid nine.


January 15, 2013


The view from the top

After a huge breakfast at Harrah’s I saddled up and headed back up to Sierra at Tahoe. I could tell that this day was going to be a lot warmer since the temps were in the 20’s at the summit. When I got to the resort it was a bit overcast and a 25 MPH plus wind was blowing. I had dressed better today and I found the early morning temperature was bearable.

I was pretty much the first person up the hill and had the newly groomed slopes to myself for most of the morning. Some people eventually showed up which always makes the ride up the hill more enjoyable. Sierra at Tahoe is a resort that is frequented by locals. I met three people from my old neighborhood in Granite Bay. I met countless others from the local area.

They all were impressed with my skis. I do intend to be the last person to use the older thin skis as opposed to the newer parabolics. I had one lift operator convinced that mine were the next cool thing and he believed me. Of course he had fewer years on him than I had on my skis. I should have sold him some of my old bell bottom pants.

But I really had a good time making laps on the one mile long slopes they have at Sierra. My skis and my body may be old but I can still have a good time out there. I am not much on style, mind you, but I do enjoy myself.

A little after two, I realized that had been skiing for five hours with only one short break. I decided to call it a day. At the bottom of the hill I had a guy wax my skis and he was just going on and on about them. He wanted me to go by the rental place and leave them for the day so they could show them to the kids. He was even going to comp me some new skis for the day. I told him that I would see him next time.

So it was back to Harrah’s for me. The usual quite night there and a good night’s sleep.


January 16, 2013

On Wednesday morning I made the snap decision to call off the skiing for that day. It wasn’t that I was tired on anything but I just decided to go home. And I had a very uneventful ride home and fond memories of a good ski trip.


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