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Life and Times of an itinerant slacker in Sacramento. Thrills, Spills Galore coming soon. Not to mention lots of opinions.

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Monday, January 17, 2005

Sunday in the Sierras

We had a new and different experience yesterday. Our Friends needed to go up to their cabin in Soda Springs near Donner Pass to prepare for some winter guests. We came along to help and share the experience. There’s a lot of snow up there. More than I have ever seen before, about 8 feet where it isn’t drifted. We carved the snowdrift in front of the house to make a staircase to the second story balcony. This is the first time I have spent much time outside in the mountains in the winter.

Just getting ready for the trip brought back memories of life in Wisconsin, gathering heavy wool socks, stretching a waffle-weave underwear shirt over my head, lacing on clunky boots, with a parka over everything. I came quickly to realize that I do not miss cold weather.

The drive up Interstate 80 was fine, and the snow cover started at elevation of about 4,000 feet. By the time we got to Soda Springs, the road felt like a canyon with high walls of snow on either side. Driving the last couple of miles on more narrow local roads was even more shockingly canyon-like. The roads were filled with dopey weekend skiing types, since this is the neighborhood of Heavenly, Sugar Bowl, Squaw (now renamed Olympic) Valley, basically the Sierra ski scene that doesn’t border Lake Tahoe, which lies about 20 treacherous iles away.

The actual shoveling work was pretty easy, since the snow made a nice and even slope to the balcony all on its own, we just needed to do a little leveling.

Looking around at all this snow covered terrain made me think: I really like the mountains better after the snow melts, mountains are threatening enough in the summer. Winter in the sierras is just too threatening, with the exception of the clear-cut ski areas, which are a part of the outdoors in the same manner as is Disney World. Any uncrowded trail leads to dangers of avalanche and other snow-related calamities. The ski areas are a lot like outdoor shopping malls, except the shoppers are more polite than skiers. Downhill skiers come to consume the outdoors, rather than to enjoy one of the most beautiful settings on this planet. They also make big traffic jams on Sunday nights. Thank heavens they are somewhere else all summer.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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