The Views, the Hues, the Blues

Lake Tahoe has always been one of my favorite places in the world. Looking at the lake from Heavenly Valley Ski resort, or Palisades, or Homewood…well, it’s as close to heaven as I’ll ever be. This trip was filled with looking at skiing from a different point of view–that of a beginner (an old beginner at that).

My buddy Rett flew into Reno to join me for ten days of my sojourn. My niece and her husband Tom, an expert and beautiful skier, completed the foursome. Tom has perfect ski form. He’s a great visual role model to help improve my skiing. I also began using a GoPro sport camera to film some of the runs I’ve taken, but my GoPro handling skill level needs great improvement. Like the fact I’m filming the edges of the run or the sky, not my line down the hill. But practice, I hope, will make perfect.

It’s been fun showing Rett my old haunts here at Tahoe and the Sacramento area. We skied Northstar, Heavenly and Kirkwood, all resorts on the Epic ski pass. I was impressed with the Northstar resort–but amazed at how much the area has built up with condos and hotels close in to the lifts. I got a view of the learning areas at both Heavenly and Northstar as Rett is learning to ski. We didn’t get to Northstar until noonish and had to do considerable amount of walking to get to the shuttle and the base lifts. Northstar was a bluebird day and I did make it to the top of Mt. Pluto for a run where the winds were pushing the tree branches a bit. The learning area is at the top of the Big Springs Express gondola where there’s a lodge and several chairs in addition to a the Big Easy chair that services the bunny area.

What surprised me most was the California side of Heavenly. The learning area is outside the California lodge. I was afraid Rett wouldn’t get good views of Lake Tahoe, but to my delight the top of First Ride chair that services the bunny area has a spectacular view of the lake. He mastered the bunny area, but had a knee tweak at the top of Gunbarrel (not on the double black face but on Maggie’s way or Patsy’s run) and had the fun experience of riding the toboggan back to Gunbarrel and a breathtaking ride down the chair to the lodge.

Rett in an easy chair.

Always the trooper, Rett skied the next day at Boulder lodge, on the Nevada side of Heavenly. I had sent Rett a picture of the Boulder Bowl and he had said, “That looks pretty steep.” I assured him that I was actually showing him the bunny area there. Yet on this day he went straight to the Boulder chair and had several successful runs down Boulder. OK, so another learning skier hit him, but he didn’t go down and didn’t fall all day! I’d say that’s success indeed!

Our last day Tom, Karolyn and I skied Kirkwood. The last time I was at Kirkwood the end of the day was marred by coming up on a terrible head-on collision. I admit I was a bit tenuous on the drive over from South Lake Tahoe, but we made it safe and sound, and it was a windy but blue day.

We skied half a day, taking the Solitude and Cornice Express a few times, and then migrating to the backside and taking the Sunrise and Iron Horse lifts. We were so lucky to have nice sunny days to play in.

It seemed like every evening there would be a calming sunset, with golden hues and some clouds to pick up the waning light. And that’s how it was driving west out of the mountains into the Sacramento River valley towards my sister in Elk Grove.

It was great fun showing Rett my sister and niece’s home area that I have adopted as my own. So much life has happened at Carol’s homes through the decades, and it’s all continuing. We toured Old Sac, drove around the Capitol, and spent time on the Delta, my favorite area. We found the museum in Locke that is in an old boarding house that was run by a Japanese American family pre-war, and had lunch at the Old Sugar Mill outside of Clarksburg. And then we spent a day driving to Auburn, stopping at Ikeda’s fruit stand and restaurant, found the Gold Rush museum, walked the old town and visited the County Courthouse museum that has literally pounds of gold ore on display. From Auburn we drove old 49 through Coloma where the first gold was discovered to Placerville, another old gold town. We followed another warm and golden sunset back to Elk Grove where Rett and I had a classic appetizer dinner at a sports bar.

I don’t feel as though I’ve got as much skiing done as I had hoped, but again, every sojourn is different, and this one is no exception. I won’t be skiing for another ten days or so! Seems so odd, but I plan on going back to Guadalupe to walk the streets my folks walked 80 years ago. I’ll see some cousins in Los Osos that I haven’t seen since before Covid. Then it’s off to see my daughter in Dallas and then back to my ski schedule–whatever that is.

Boulder Bowl learning area, Heavenly

Rett’s vacation ends tomorrow, and that makes me blue. He’s going back to Minnesota to sub zero temperatures and no mountains for miles. It’s been my good fortune to have his company these past few days and it’s made me happy to see him get better and better at skiing. I’ll have to resend him that picture of the Boulder Bowl that he thought was so hard so he can see how far he’s come.

Every day is an adventure. We might as well enjoy it. It goes so fast.

#solotraveler #Soloskier #soloskisojourn #travelogue #Sacramentodelta #HeavenlyValley #Northstar #Kirkwood #ikedasfruitstand #placerville #coloma #goldrush


4 thoughts on “The Views, the Hues, the Blues

  1. Mary Tramel says:

    So envious and impressed by your skiing, it’s one of my few regrets in life that we did not ski more. I grew up in Edina and was in Blizzard ski club, Edina HS ski club and had a year of College in Denver, after that it was hit and miss. Skied at Zermatt during my junior year abroad, Whitefish while we lived in MT, but only a few times in MN over the next 25 years. We did ski Heavenly in a blinding snowstorm once in the 80´s, then Alpine Meadows in ‘03. After we moved to Calaveras County in 2012 we skied a couple Christmas Eves at Bear Valley. Anyway I am blown away by your stories about solo skiing. Keep on skiing and telling your stories.


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