When I die, I hope God sends me to Lake Tahoe. I am sure that somehow this magical place is on God’s radar screen as a part of Heaven reserved for faithful servants/skiers like me. At least I hope so. In all seriousness, every time I have the good fortune of coming here, I see beauty beyond comparison. The lake itself is the most beautiful color of blue which photography cannot adequetely capture, and it is surrounded by the most majestic mountains which are home to spectacular hiking, mountain biking and skiing.
I am out here with my group of guys whom I have skied with for a long time. Our good friends the Durfees are such gracious hosts to this band of ruffians who invade their home every year on the annual guys “ski till you die” trip. I got a little warm up this year by sking Mt. Rose and Homewood before the other guys got here. Rose has a memorable view of Reno on one side and Lake Tahoe on the other side and not only is it visually stunnning but it is also a great ski area which most people don’t recognize. I had the good fortune to ski Homewood yesterday which is my 108th different ski area in my resume. I have this running contest with my friend Mike Smith to see who can ski the most ski areas in their lifetime. Mike is still ahead of me by 19 areas but I am slowly catching him. Homewood is right on the lake and has perhaps the most brilliant and visually stimulating views of the mountains and the water. When you ski to the middle of the mountain, you look ahead and it seems like you could ski right into the lake. The area has an old school feel to it and the only drawback is slow chair lifts. But they are slated for a high speed chair next season according to the locals. I stopped at a neat little place called ” The Dam Cafe” in Tahoe City on the way to Homewood. Their organic coffee and pastries were amazing and I stopped there after skiing to get a veggie sandwich that was as big as my head. The girls who work there are real free spirits true to the California lifestyle and if you want to be entertained by a waitstaff who are funny and relaxed in the California way, don’t miss “The Dam Cafe.”
Today the posse traveled to Squaw Valley -Home of the 1960 Winter Olympics and also home to some of the most famous ski racers and free skiers of all time. Olympians like Tamara McKinney, Darron Rahlves, and Julia Mancuso call Olympic Valley home and they are very proud of the tradition that surrounds this amazing mountain. The geography here is amazing in that the ski area is surrounded by massive cliffs and rock formations in this geologically active area. In big snow years, there is so much to ski and the really good skiers use the rock formations to launch some big air in their daily skiing repetoire. Some of the best skiers in the world call Squaw their home. Our group skied all over that mountain today and tonight we are feeling the effects of skiing 27,000 vertical feet and 20 runs of demanding steeps and soft snow conditions in brilliant sunshine. I rented a black Chevy Suburban and when we travel to the different areas, I wear my dark Raybans. We look just like the Secret Service in this massive vehicle but it has a lot of room for all the gear and we can really stretch out. A little tough on gas but a great travel vehicle.
Like any guys trip, the old stories come out on the chairlifts, at lunch and dinner. Mark Hutchison and Proctor Reid are native Vermonters and have a lot of great ski stories and they run into people out here who know them or know their frineds back in Vermont. The ski community is actually small and it is amazing who you bump into all the way out here. Lastly, we had the good fortune to see the US National Ski Championships at Squaw today and the final event was the women’s slalom. These women are amazing athletes and my buddies who were former ski racers remarked how conditioning, equipment and training has elevated the sport to where it is today. Mikaela Shifferin was racing today. She is the current World Cup Slalom Champion and she just turned 18!!!
I have several more days here and then it will be time to return to the real world. Thanks to our friends the Durfees, we all have the great fortune to come out to visit this paradise. If you have never been to Lake Tahoe, please put that on your bucket list too. It is visually breathtaking. The saying around here is that people come for the winter but stay for the summers. It is beautiful here all year long. Don’t miss it and thanks for reading.