Drunk off winter | SierraSun.com

Drunk off winter

Alex Close

Floating through a foot of fresh pow in Northstar’s perfectly spaced trees last week nearly wiped clean any memory of sitting inside the living room fighting off insanity as the pattering of raindrops fell on my tin roof, slowly melting what little snowpack lay on the ground into slushy ponds.It seemed, finally, that winter was here with all the glory that accompanies it: Skipping afternoons of work in Tahoe City to tear apart Alpine’s lingering fresh backside lines. Power sliding around the snow covered corners of the Mt. Rose Highway en route to some backcountry goodness.

The feeling of euphoria upon awakening, groggily sliding open the blinds to let in a flood of bright sunlight reflected off of the blanket of white covering everything in sight, weighing down branches and telephone wires and burying rocks, bushes, fences and cars.While this week’s forecast warns of chances of rain and snow alike, five days worth of skiing to usher in the new year has set the frustration-meter back into the black. Driving behind gapers doing 8 mph in their chained up SUVs on wet pavement has become somewhat tolerable. Spending Saturday in the office to make up for skiing Thursday and half of Friday is a welcome trade. Even if temperatures rose to slush out Alpine’s ungroomed playground, one day of cold powder skiing in the trees on Northstar’s backside after a day of shredding fresh lines off Sugar Bowl’s Disney chair seemed to make just about anything bearable.

It’s amazing what a powder day will do for your attitude. Especially after a month of soggy wet weather.In the Pacific Northwest there is a medically recognized phenomena called SAD, or “Seasonal Affected Disorder.” Doctors in Oregon and Washington actually prescribe tanning salons for folks who cannot handle the nine months of uninterrupted clouds and sprinkle, becoming depressed and dejected, desperately in need of some sunshine. Lake Tahoe, which averages 300 days of sun per year, got a taste of that last month clouds, fog and rain.It really is gloomy and depressing. And without being able to get outside and get the blood flowing, things get worse.Praise the Snow gods for returning to Tahoe.

How we missed you.With current summit base depths topping the 100 inch mark, things are finally on track. Of course we could use some more snow, another powder day is always welcome, and it would be lovely to see temperatures drop and stay below freezing for the next few months. But we’ll take what we can get. Just getting out and riding those planks, taking in the views from the lifts, golden rays of sunshine striking open faces and sparkling like a thousand perfect diamonds, floating through fluff and lifting off, weightless, only to come back down again into a soft welcoming turn are all things that remind us why we live here. To be able to ski three separate world class resorts in one week, without driving more than 45 minutes from home is what winter is all about.I, for one, am damn glad it’s finally here.