It was the perfect storm - multiple days off work, new ski gear and a sizable snow storm headed straight for the sierras. Needless to say it didn't take much consideration to decide where Bran and I would be spending the Thanksgiving holiday : Tahoe. We decided since I am not that experienced on skis that we would spend the first two days resort skiing and then find a mellow back country ski area for the following two days. With the plans set, we packed up Dad Car 1 and hit the road after work on Tuesday.
We drove as far as we could and car camped right outside of Bishop. We woke early the next morning and continued our way up the 395 to Tahoe. The storm was set to start Wed. morning so we wanted to get there as early as possible to avoid the inclement weather. Kirkwood was our first destination and the lifts were to open at 9. To say Bran and I were excited would be an understatement. The farther we drove the more and more snow that was falling. The anticipation of the extended weekend was building and we could not wait to have our new skis under our feet.
Before we knew it we were on the lift and headed up the mountain. The first run of the day was a little eventful. I had never skied on my skis and was not use to the lightness and/or width of the ski. Within 20 feet of heading down the mountain, I had already face planted. By the time we made it down to the base, I was a little skeptical. But once we moved over to some easier terrain and Bran gave some helpful tips I was skiing down the mountain in no time. Throughout the day we both got better and more comfortable. Around 4 o'clock we called it a day and headed into town to find some warm, satisfying food. We stumbled upon Verde Mexican Rotisserie. They had one of the best vegan burritos Bran or I have ever had. It was so delicious that we went there again that weekend. They obviously have non-vegan food that also looked delicious but regardless if you are in South Lake Tahoe, this is a stop well worth making. As a side note: try their home-made chimichurri, you won't regret it.
It was time to find a place to sleep. We had decided to try out car camping to see if our set-up will work for colder weather next year. We found a sno-park that allowed parking called Carson Pass. We piled up all our sleeping bags and tucked ourselves in at the respectable hour of 8 PM. To our surprise we were able to stay nice and warm - even though everything else in the car froze. We high-fived and hopped on the road to the next ski resort, Heavenly. To our surprise, it was still snowing! As we got closer and closer to Heavenly we could see that the resort was still socked in. We were just as stoked as the day before. As the day went on we got to go down some excellent runs, however our feet were frozen. The temperature and visibility that day were not ideal, in fact we ended up going in to warm up several times that day. As a result we called it a day around 2pm. Even though it was not as fun as anticipated we were glad to be able to have another day skiing.
Coincidently a group of our friends from LA were renting a cabin in Tahoe this weekend too. They invited us into their home for Thanksgiving and to stay with them for the duration of the weekend. As cheesy as it sounds, Bran and I were tremendously thankful for the invite. We thought it was so kind for them to include us in their holiday celebration. We are still grateful for their generosity. Therefore after our ski day in Heavenly, we headed straight to their cabin. They had just began to prepare the Thanksgiving feast. We arrived with some excellent beer and a helping hand. That night was filled with stories, laughs, games, conversations, amazing food and great company. Bran and I went to bed with full bellies and smiles on our faces - ready to go back-country skiing for the first time ever the next day!
We decided on Carson Pass. There was multiple types of terrain to choose from and was suggested as a place with good moderate terrain. We arrived and set off on the trail at around 9 am. It was a winter wonderland. Words can not describe just how beautiful the mountains can be in a snowstorm, not to mention we had it all to ourselves. After exploring through all the trees we found a fun line down a slope and through some trees. It was spectacular. While I still have some learning to do about how to ski powder, it was amazing to create your own line and weave between trees in this snowy wonderland. At the bottom of the slope, Bran and I decided to head to the car. We had just had the perfect first day in the back-country, minus my transitions (I have some "opportunity" there) . Once we got back to the car around noon we went into town. We got some groceries for the house so we could prepare them a great soup for lunch/dinner. After another night filled with great people we went to bed again with full bellies and smiles on our faces.
The next day we got up even earlier than the day before. We were ready to go a little longer and farther into the back-country. It was a blue bird day and the mountains were calling. We arrived at Carson Pass at around 8am, we thru on our skis and followed a skin track through the trees and up to Elephants Back. Bran got this cool line down the Elephants Back.
We then decided to continue our way down the mountain around where we skied the day before. Once we got to the bottom, we skinned back up for another lap. We, yet again, got another amazing line all the way down the mountain. Even though we saw several people that day we still felt the mountain was ours. We were skiing by ourselves and with no crowds. After a second lap, I was feeling pretty fatigued. It was the fourth day in a row we had been skiing and I was hungry (shocking). We headed back to the trail head and back to the cabin.
The next morning we packed up the car and decided to hit up Heavens one more time. There was plenty of powder and we managed to get in almost a dozen runs before noon. Unfortunately we had to call it a day and begin the journey back down to reality. We had a spectacular trip in the sierras. The vacation allowed us to get a glimpse of what next year's la gran aventura holds. Overall, Tahoe has some great mountains and I highly recommend either resort skiing or back country skiing.