As I approach my third winter living in Tahoe, I’m beginning to gain a better understanding of the tides of the seasons. Spring has a fresh, renewed feeling. Summer is loud, warm and sometimes chaotic. Fall has a peaceful tone – the calm before the winter storm – there are usually one or two light snowfalls to get us excited for winter, the leaves change, and mornings get crisp and cool. Winter, of course, is what we all live for, and Tahoe is a pretty special place to be when it’s happening.
What most folks don’t consider though, are the seasons within the seasons. Winter in particular can be broken into very distinct times with memories all their own. Late winter and spring are sunny and carefree. The heart of winter is filled with early mornings, hot coffee and determined skiing and riding. The holidays are cheerful, bright and exciting, with an energy on the mountain and in The Village that can only be found in that two- to three-week period. Then there’s the early season. I consider this the time between opening day and the start of the December holidays. It’s only about a month long, but it’s one of my favorite times of the year. Not sure what I mean? Here’s why I love the beginning of winter:
The excitement is palpable. If you’ve ever been here on opening day, you know the feeling. The first few weeks of the season bring with it a renewed vigor for the sport we love so much. The air is cold and the mountainscapes seem to be more clear than they were in the summer. Fireplace smoke rises from chimneys in Truckee and along the lake, and you can’t help but imagine all the memories this winter will bring.
It’s the perfect time to get your legs back. You don’t want to be learning how to finish the perfect arc in the middle of a January Tahoe storm. Take the time in the early season to take a lesson, get tips from friends, or just get on the mountain and practice the technique you already know. Unless you spent your summer in South America, there’s a good chance you have a little bit of rust to brush off.
Winter is longer than you think. But you have to take advantage of it! The beauty of technology these days is that we get more of what we want. It’s true for devices, cars, even appliances. It’s also true for snow. Northstar has the largest snowmaking system in North Lake Tahoe and quite possibly the most experienced snowmaking team in the industry. This means you have reliable conditions to ski on from day one. And as we all know, any day you could be skiing is a day you should be skiing (or riding). So make the most of that pass you just bought and get up here early.
Beat the rush. Want a quiet morning on the mountain? Want a whole chair to yourself? Want the lift operator to learn your life story, whether she wants to or not? Play hooky on a weekday and come skiing early in the season. At the risk of sounding like a cliché nature-lover (which, if we’re being honest, we all are at heart), you really do get a mountain experience like nothing else. The air is quiet but for the low rumble of the lift cables passing over tower wheels, the mountain breeze swirls around you and numbs your nose, the views are as gorgeous as ever except this time they have your undivided attention, and the skiing is a personal, almost spiritual experience. The mountain is, quite simply, yours.
So take it from me. I’m no local yet (I’ve been told it takes 10 years of residency to achieve that coveted status), but with a few seasons under my belt the mountains have shown me just about every side of the coin, and early winter at Northstar is an experience not to be missed.
Happy skiing & riding,