*Room tax not included. Offer available seven days a week. Offer not available December 29 through January 2.
The late arrival of snow this year has brought many blessings to the Lost Sierra. An added bonus is warm weather cross-country skiing. There’s nothing like experiencing the beauty of winter white in a short sleeved T-shirt.
I was able to sneak up to Lake Davis for a short ski this morning. I chose to ski on the snow packed by snowmobilers rather than mess with the inconsistent conditions that I found in the untrammeled snow. A couple silly spills made that decision easy. I headed up the road on the west side of the lake and then took a right and skied out to the end of the Old Camp Five peninsula. There was plenty of snow on the road where the snowmobilers had packed it, but the edges of the lake were exposed beach. Despite the cold water, my trusty canine companion just had to take a dip. I was not tempted.
As I passed the old snag on the way back, I was wishing I could hear the stories it could tell. It looks like it has seen some pretty severe weather over the decades.
With Smith Peak guiding the way, I headed back to the car with a sense of complete well-being and satisfaction. These springtime cross-country ski days always feel like a bonus to me. I love winter and enjoy all the outdoor activities associated with it despite the cold. But skiing in warm weather just feels decadent — like the whipped cream on top of the chocolate sundae!
I suspect the snow will last another couple weeks, so grab your skis and enjoy a little summer skiing.
After disappointingly dry weather in January and February prevented the races from being held, the enthusiasm was sky high yesterday at the World Championship Longboard Races held at the historic Johnsville Ski Bowl.
For those of you who have never attended a race, I hope I can convince you to put it on your calendar for next winter. It’s such a fun day for the whole family with sledding and snowshoeing, great old-timey music, food, and of course, Brewing Lair beer.
The races are competitive, but the atmosphere is one of camaraderie and good cheer among competitors. There are always some exciting close races and some hilarious “Keystone Cop” type comedies with fallen racers doing everything in their power to get across the finish line.
Here’s how it works. Anyone who wants to can race. Plumas Ski Club has extra skis, so you will be able to rent skis for the race, until they are all claimed. Period clothing is requested for all competitors and footwear must be leather. No modern ski boots are allowed. Around 11:30, each competitor is assigned a start number by random drawing. The competitors then race in twos, with the winner moving onto the next round. Men and women race separately. It then comes down to the last race of 3 to determine 1st, 2nd and 3rd places.
There is a groomed sledding hill for kids of all ages to enjoy. A simple fare of grilled burgers and dogs is available for purchase along with an endless flow of Brewing Lair Beer. Spectators can set up anywhere they’d like and many folks bring outdoor chairs and a picnic lunch to make a day of it. Bring your snowshoes or backcountry skis and head up to Eureka Lake or Eureka Peak for added adventure.
Winter has hit the Lost Sierra at last. It’s been snowing off and on for the last couple weeks. We’re not talking a dusting or few paltry inches here and there, this is the real deal – FEET of snow throughout the area.
Get your cross-country skis or snowshoes out or fire up your snowmobile and come explore Lakes Basin in all its winter wondrousness.
I only had a short timeframe available today so I took my cross-country skis to a private road I have access to near my house. As you can see from the photos, it was just gorgeous, making for a happy human and an even happier pup.
When I have more time, some of my favorite places for cross-country skiing are:
Mohawk-Chapman road off Gold Lake Highway – This is a gently inclining road that offers fabulous views just a couple miles in.
Lake Davis – Lake Davis is north of Portola off Highway 70. I usually ski from the unplowed dirt road on the west shore. You can park where Lake Davis Road turns east at the south end of the lake, head north on the road, then ski the wide open terrain that lies between the road and the lake itself. There’s miles and miles of open skiing to enjoy.
Plumas-Eureka State Park – A group of dedicated volunteers groom a set of trails in and around the campground at the State Park. You can access these trails from the Mohawk-Johnsville Rd. and the Campground Rd. behind the Museum. The volunteers produce a grooming report that you can find on the volunteer website. If you use the trails please consider making a donation. No park funds are available to keep the groomers in fuel.
I’ve certainly enjoyed the late season hiking in Lakes Basin this winter due to the lack of snow, but I was overjoyed to awaken yesterday to a few inches of snow on the ground in the valley and a heavy white layer on Mills Peak and the trees leading up to it.
This morning I decided to go exploring to see what’s still accessible. Gold Lake Highway is now closed so we parked in the staging area parking lot conveniently located at the road closure point. There’s a pretty little trail that runs about a mile from the parking lot through the forest and comes out on the Gray Eagle Lodge road.
It’s a fun trail on skis when there’s more snow, but today it was totally enjoyable in hiking boots. There’s a slight elevation gain, which is much more noticeable on skis or snowshoes. On foot, it’s a gentle climb, suitable for any level hiker. This is also a great summer trail because it’s short with lots of shade – perfect for families with young kids or people who lack the stamina for longer hikes. Come on out and get your winter wonderland fix and check out this little slice of nature’s beauty.
Update: 1/21/18 This trail was one of the last ones built by the Forest Service about a decade ago before budget cuts took the USFS out of the trail creation and maintenance business. We’re fortunate to have the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship in our backyard to maintain the myriad trails that wind through Plumas and Sierra counties and build new ones for us to enjoy.
On yesterday’s hike we found a fairly large downed tree that was easy to climb over in boots, but would be very challenging in snowshoes and impossible on skis. I happened to run into Greg Williams, the brain and heart behind SBTS, last night and asked him if he could take care of the downed tree sometime. I received these pictures from him today after he and his son had taken care of the tree. Now that’s some amazing trail maintenance response time! If you enjoy hiking or mountain biking in this area, please check out the work of Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship and consider supporting their efforts.
Holiday Greetings to all from the Lost Sierra. It’s a gorgeous Christmas day, made that much better by a walk in the snow by a lake. There is just something about large bodies of water that draw me like a gravitational pull, and today Gold Lake did the pulling.
After being under the weather I was desperate for some fresh air and my dog needed a good romp so off we went with another friend and her dog. It’s unusual for Gold Lake Highway to be open and dry this time of year, but it makes easy access to the high country. We drove to the Gold Lake Campground road once again for a lovely walk. The snow is about 5 inches deep with a light, crunchy layer on top. Someone had driven down the campground road making the walking very easy going.
We wandered down the road and back through the campground to the dam where my friend’s Golden decided that no water is too cold for her. My dog, after barely tolerating the Santa hat, was having no part of that cold water.
The patterns of snow and ice on the lake were fascinating, and with the light haze of cloud cover, the lake had a silvery reflective glow that was stunning. It was as if the lake had been covered with frosting that had been whipped up and then partially melted. Every angle offered a unique perspective.
While it had been cool at the start of the hike, the temperature climbed into the forties and the clouds steadily cleared leaving us plenty warm and sun-drenched by the time we wandered back up the road to the car. What a spectacular way to spend Christmas day.
The snow has been falling in the Lost Sierra in fits and starts. Way back in September Lakes Basin got 4-5 inches, which was not necessarily a welcome weather change for my friends who were camping at Gold Lake. October also delivered a couple small, early-season snow drops, but the weather warmed up between them so there has been little accumulation and Gold Lake Highway has remained open. However, last week’s snowfall and this week’s cold temps may change that trend.
It’s lovely to be able to get up to Lakes Basin this late in the season. There’s still great hiking to be had and the beauty factor is off the charts! The light covering of snow completely transforms the area and makes it feel like you’re discovering familiar terrain for the very first time. Even roads that you typically drive on become beautiful forest walks, like today’s walk on the Gold Lake campground road. Some of the lower elevation hikes are still hikable such as the Graeagle Creek and Smith Lake trails. The few inches of snow create a bit more of a workout, but hey, that’s one of the reasons we all go hiking, right?
Take advantage of the mild late season and get some wintertime hiking in. You’ll be happy you did.
The holiday season officially starts in our little corner of the Lost Sierra on the first weekend in December. There is nothing sweeter than the community spirit evident at the two holiday celebrations; one in Portola, the other in Graeagle.
Festivities kick off Friday night with Portola’s Light Parade and Christmas Fair. Despite the chilly evening, Commercial Street was lined with families eager to see this year’s line-up of illuminated parade entrants. They weren’t disappointed as once again the local businesses and organizations created a festive atmosphere with their brightly lit vehicles and holiday-themed floats.
The central bonfire was a popular spot to warm up between shopping at the old-fashioned Christmas fair booths, watching the parade, checking raffle tickets to see if you’d won one of the dozens of donated gift baskets and waiting for the tree to be lit. Christmas music flowed throughout the evening and a warm, neighborly time was had by all.
On Saturday the festivities move to Graeagle. The businesses in the little red shops that line highway 89 are open for early Christmas shopping, each one offering some type of treat for shoppers, either a signature beverage or snack. It’s a very festive shopping experience with a couple hundred of your closest friends!
Santa always makes a visit and the horse-drawn sleigh delights kids of all ages as it makes its way through town. Due to the loss of half of the team of horses that have drawn the sleigh for many years, this year’s sleigh was pulled by a tractor decorated for the holiday. Adults like me seemed to be much more disappointed than the kids who didn’t seem to mind at all.
The bonfire was again a big draw as everyone gathered on the lawn to listen to music by Danny Horton and cross their fingers in hopes they’d win the gift basket full of Graeagle Bucks and treats as they awaited the tree lighting. Nature provided an amazing complement to the man-made visuals with a nearly full moon rising through the trees as the huge pine tree came alive with colored lights.If you’re looking for festivities that bring out the true spirit of the holidays, make a note to be in the Lost Sierra the first weekend of December next year.
We in the Lost Sierra know that the Historic Longboard Revival Race Series provides some of the greatest family-friendly winter entertainment available. But as of today the event is no longer our little secret.
The cover of the September 21st issue of Powder Magazine features a photo of the women winners of the World Championship Longboard Revival Series Race held in March, 2017 at the Johnsville Ski Bowl and the issue contains a great article about the event.
Written by David Page with photography from David Reddick, the 8-page article covers last March’s World Championship race and much of the history and lore behind the races. It’s a great read with terrific photography including some historic photos you may not have seen before. Grab a copy from the newsstands or subscribe HERE.
The 2018 Historic Longboard Revival Race Series will be held the third Sunday in January, February and March of 2018. Learn more about this crazy backwoods fun at Plumas Ski Club’s website.
Left: 2nd place Sarah Johnstone
Middle: 1st place Jessica Nelson
Right: 3rd place Austyn Harrington