You've heard the slogan "Pork, the other white meat"? Well this is a story about Ice, the other frozen water. The frozen water we usually think of this time of year that makes the Tahoe/Truckee area tick in the winter is snow, the white stuff, frozen powder. It's what we've been hoping for more of this year and in other years cursing as we try to find our buried car under that white mound in the parking lot. Well, snow isn't the only frozen form of water that effects our lives. Ice is something we usually only think about when we round a turn and feel that sudden, momentary loss of control in our car as the tires meet it's glossy, slick surface. We think about it when we look out the window in the morning to see the sunlight sparkling through the long, dripping icicles hanging from the eaves. We definitely think about it when we're late for work and find the windshield of our car covered with a beautiful mosaic of ice crystals that are impossible to see through. We mumble about it to ourselves as we frantically try to scrape it away in shavings that fly in all directions. That's how most of us think of ice. But ice is more than a nuisance or a natural decoration for our house. It can also be used for recreation and winter fun just like we make use of snow. Where snow either needs to fall from the sky or be man made with powerful snow guns, all that's needed for ice is a pond full of standing water and cold temperatures. I was reminded of the recreational value of ice in an article I read in the Tahoe Weekly called "Tahoe on ice" By Alex West.
First, one word of caution. Ice can be dangerous if it hasn't been cold enough or you don't know what you're doing so never skate alone and use the knowledge and experience of the locals to stay safe. Ponds are everywhere in the Tahoe/Truckee area and you don't need a lift ticket or equipment to enjoy them, although a pair of skates would be nice. In his article, Alex relates how skating season starts in the high elevations and works it's way down to lake level to ice covered ponds like the one in Tahoe Vista where you'll see hockey players, casual skaters, kids and dogs enjoying the ice. You don't even need equipment to have fun. He also tells how a friend uses hand made tools to scrape and resurface the ice on a pond across the street from his house to make a smooth surface out of the sometimes jagged and cracked one Mother Nature provides. This is known as "Tim's Pond", reminding me of Walden's Pond in the Thoreau novel. A large puddle of water has turned into a place where friends gather to hone their hockey skills, have fun and socialize.
Where are the best spots for pond skating? Boca Reservoir is the largest, usually full of hockey players, free skaters, four-wheelers, and dogs. It's quite a scene! Other popular spots are Prosser Reservoir, ponds in Coldstream Canyon, and the small pond in Tahoe Vista. Also check out Tamarack Pond on top of Mount Rose and Quail Lake up at Homewood. Another interesting spot is Cascade Lake south of Emerald Bay where one year the water was so clear you could see boulders 70 feet below the ice. If you're not into pond skating, try the ice skating rinks at the Truckee River Regional Park, High Camp at Squaw Valley, the Village at Northstar or the Resort at Squaw Creek. The ice skating rinks are good options now that snow is covering most of the pond ice. This year, the lack of heavy snow had kept some of these areas open for much of the winter and they may clear again if we get wind and little additional snow. While the skiing has been great recently, why not try something new? You just may find you have a new passion.
The pond ice may again be covered with a fresh layer of snow this coming week as a parade of storms are forecast to move through, dropping feet of snow at the higher elevations. The snow level is forecast to rise above 7000', though, by mid week before dropping again by week's end. This could be the wettest period we've had all winter! Enjoy the snow while you can but try the other frozen water for fun, too! Be sure to "Like" our Olympic Village Inn Facebook page to keep up to date with the latest news and activities with Olympic Village Inn and the surrounding Tahoe-Truckee area. Have a great week!