Rediscovering Northstar: TREES!

And we’re off to another white, snow-filled season!

Since it’s been raining regularly in the Bay and snowing in Tahoe, I’ve already gone up almost three consecutive weekends.

Doesn’t get much better than this. Maybe the line could be shorter…

The first time I went up (first weekend of Dec.), only two lifts were open, but that was fine with me. It was a nice warm-up sesh. It was an incredibly bright day with blue skies blanketing Tahoe. As usual, you could see all the way to the crystal blue lake and the surrounding snow-capped mountains from East Ridge.

The snow was a bit crunchy though.

The second time was much better. Dare I say it was a Tahoe version of Hakuba. It was THAT magical. It was probably the best start (ever!) to the season.

A layer of happiness and soft cushion…

It had snowed a day earlier, and fresh powder consumed the mountain. The trees were completely white with perfectly untouched clumps of smooth snow. It gave me the courage to finally test my skills and maneuver through the trees. (After getting thoughts of Sonny Bono out of my head…)

Northstar is the gift that keeps on giving

We even got our bubbles on at the free champagne toast at Tost. We waited in line for 30 minutes and talked to a guy who once broke his collarbone while snowboarding. Cheers!

It also helped that I went up with an advanced rider (thanks Greg!). He led the way and I followed, but follow the leader can get tricky. There were many, many moments where I lost him or couldn’t keep up, or fell in the deep, quick sand-like snow.

There’s no workout quite like trying to get out of fresh, deep snow. It’s like wrestling a ghost — a losing battle for obvious reasons. With each wiggle, you continue to sink…

For the first time in a few seasons, I was actually pretty sore from the wrestling and falling. (Easily remedied with some hot yoga, a bath, and massage.)

I quickly learned that I had to be more strategic in being a follower. Learning to weave in and out of the trees meant slowing down, surveying the hill, and figuring out which route to take. It forced me to use my old noggin’. It meant I had to actually start mapping out my own routes. Woot!

Greg and I got into a groove and spent two glorious days bobbing and weaving in and out of the trees. Greg practiced his mini-jumps while I sashayed quick turns and worked on controlling my speed so I could make it up small hills.

It was the most fantastical way to start the season!

Up until this point, I thought I had Northstar figured out. I knew each run, every chair, and thought I was getting bored. Now that I know about the trees, it’s like a whole new resort.

So, I went back for more. Went back up with a bigger crew for a third time.

Unfortunately, the snow was crunchier and the weather was gloomy. Lots of white-out, so it was hard to see riding down the mountain.

On day two, it dumped, but not in a good way. It was windy, freezing, and way too white to see anything. Gusts were at least 30 mph, and the stinging, angry snow pelting your face wasn’t fun.

It. Was. Freezing. Had my hand warmers in my gloves.

We decided to call it a day (safety first!), and headed home at 11am.

We got caught in some nasty traffic on the way out to Donner Pass, but made it home safely.

The fresh powder was amazing. Too bad conditions were poor. This was snapped right before our final run. Until next time…

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