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Tahoe Donner XC gives back to community

Nordic Times, John Eaton

Tahoe Donner Cross Country Resort is a flaming hotbed of community service.

It hosts elementary, recreation and park, junior high and high school children for training at no charge. It must play an important part in our local scholastic teams’ outstanding performances. It is a delight to come by in the afternoon and witness as many as 250 kids having a ball undertaking a lifetime sport as healthy as cross country skiing.

One of Tahoe Donner’s more popular races, the Sierra Skogsloppet, helps fund the Truckee High School Nordic team. Half of the first day’s revenue went to Tahoe Women’s Services. This month, Tahoe Donner will host weekly women’s clinics, covering Nordic techniques and other health-related topics.

Tahoe Donner is also an invaluable resource for handicapped skiers: “Ski for Light,” held seven times a year, allows blind skiers to ski with a guide. The last event draws skiers from across the country. In fact, you may see nationally known disabled skiers Mark Wellman and Candace Cable zip by you on their sit skis, or “rigs.” Tahoe Donner also provides free skiing to special education students and hosts the Special Olympics.

Other races may occur day or night (Tahoe Donner has a 2.5K loop available for night skiing on Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m. until Feb. 25). The biggest race is the President’s Cup on Feb. 16. A more laid back event is the Tour D’Euer on March 28, allowing anyone to ski seven to 25K and explore Euer Valley at any pace they wish.

Tahoe Donner Cross Country was established in 1975 and has gradually grown to its present size of 110K of trails on 4,800 acres of terrain, most of which is open with panoramic views. The altitude varies from 6,500 to 7,700 feet, and it receives an average of 360 inches of snow. There are 16 beginner, 21 intermediate and five advanced skating and striding trails, two snowshoe-only trails, and two wilderness trails for striding only.

My favorite route follows intermediate and advanced trails to Hawk’s Peak, where you can enjoy views of the reservoirs and Carson Range, then along the rim of the Sunrise Bowl, where you can look down into Euer Valley and across to Frog Lake cliffs, across to the warming hut where you can look down into Gregory Canyon, and then up to Far Side where you can look across Donner Lake to a panoramic view of the Sierra crest.

Those who want a screaming downhill run can take I’m OK, Euer OK from Hawk’s peak down into Euer Valley. A gentle and mellow tour could take you out to Lion’s Leap, and then back to Piece of Cake (4.6K). There are multiple chances to cut this short and loop back to the lodge.

A longer (but still mellow) tour goes down to Euer Valley and back, with multiple options to extend or lengthen the trip. If you want a nice view without going on expert trails, Big Dipper has a very nice view over Tahoe Donner, the reservoirs to the east and the Carson Range. An unusual option is a trail connecting to the downhill area, where your XC pass will give you one trip on the ski lift and a trip down the “mile run,” an easy run that brings you back to the connector.

Tahoe Donner rents classic and skating skis, snowshoes and sleds, and provides instruction in all types and all levels of Nordic techniques. There are five warming huts and two cafes, although the Cafe in Euer Valley is open only on weekends and holidays. The Tahoe Donner staff takes particular pride in the baked goods and other food it prepares at the cross country center and serves at both cafes.

Many of Tahoe Donner’s customers come from Sacramento and the Bay Area, but 70 percent of the season pass holders have homes in Tahoe Donner. Children and senior citizens can take advantage of free skiing for those under 12 or over 70.

Many racers use these tracks for training. You can recognize them by the graceful way they flow over the snow, and it is both worthwhile and enjoyable to watch and learn from them.

John Eaton is a PSIA level I instructor at Royal Gorge and a Truckee resident. For more information on Tahoe Donner Cross Country, call 587-9484 or log on to http://www.xcski@tahoedonner.com. This is the second in a series of reviews by Eaton on area cross country resorts.


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