The birds are singing, their new babies chirping loudly from the nest.The trees are filling out with bright green leaves and the air has warmed from the sharp biting cold of Winter to the gentle, caressing breezes of Summer. Achoo! The plants are pollinating and, Swat! the mosquitoes are out. I guess it must be Spring.
I have a love/hate relationship with Spring. I love being able to get out in the warm air without having to dress like I'm leaving on an Arctic Expedition and, while I'll miss the snow, a whole new world of outdoor activities opens up again. On the other hand, the runny nose, the itchy eyes, the swarms of bugs! You just have to take the good with the bad. The best is Spring skiing because the bugs don't like the snow and ice crystals don't pollinate as far as I know. All that's about to end, but you can still get in a few more runs because Alpine Meadows is still open Fri-Sun thru May 13 with reduced ticket rates. Their hours of operation are 8am-1pm, but that's the sweet spot of the day for Spring skiing before the snow turns to the consistency of oatmeal, cold oatmeal.
That reminds me of a day at Squaw Valley many years ago when I was stretching the season as far as I could. The snow was icy in the morning but then got just right for a couple of hours. Slowly it started to drag on my skis and then all of a sudden catch like I'd hit a patch of Velcro. Those effortless turns became a major effort. Did I choose the wrong wax or was it because I hadn't waxed my skis all Winter? By the time I got down to the bottom of the hill the puddles were so big I felt like I was water skiing! Even under those conditions I had a great day because I had a few hours of wonderful skiing and then I lounged around on the sundeck basking in the early Spring sun surrounded by the majestic peaks of Squaw Valley. I know it was a great day because I still remember it years later.
If you're ready to get started with your Spring off-snow activities you may have to wait a little longer for all the Forest Service roads to open. Some may be open now but, despite the warm weather and lack of snow, May 10 through June 1 are the earliest dates the roads will open. Not all closed roads have a gate or a sign and you can get cited. For the most up-to-date information on which roads and trails are open, you can call the recreation line (530) 543-2694 or go to USDA Rec Area Openings on the web.
Campgrounds and day-use areas in the Lake Tahoe basin will begin opening in mid-May, weather permitting, according to U.S Forest Service officials. Before they can open, the Forest Service must remove safety hazards, clean up from winter, and wait until the danger of a freeze is over before turning on water systems. The expected opening dates for Tahoe recreation sites are also available on the web at USDA Rec Area Openings.
Cyclists, runners, and hikers have already been taking advantage of the warm weather and quickly melting snow. Many of the trails and roads were open most of the Winter and just recently blocked by late season snow which has now mostly melted in many locations. Mountain biking and trail running are two great sports you can do to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise at the same time. You should be able to find many roads and trails already open a month or more earlier than normal.
Water sports? While Lake Tahoe is still pretty cold (isn't it always?) there are some sports that can warm you on the water through exercise. Why not try SUP? That stands for Stand Up Paddling. It's really catching on. I saw may first SUPs on Donner Lake last year and it looked pretty wild. SUP is one of the top core workouts you can do and develops your balance along with your muscles. Also, the icy cold water serves as a BIG incentive to stay upright on the board!
If you're into normal paddling, here's something to get you started on the season:
May 19, 2012 (Sat) 9AM-1PM
Come join the Lake Tahoe Water Trail's Annual Spring Paddle. We will be launching from Commons Beach in Tahoe City for a morning paddle, followed by lunch at Sunnyside Restaurant and Lodge. Interpretive guides will navigate and educate about the Lake Tahoe environment. All ages and skill levels are welcome. For more information and registration log onto laketahoewatertrail.org.
Of course you can always take the easy route and just get out the boat, cruise to a nice protected cove and bask in the warm sun with a cold beer. I think that's what I'm going to do this weekend. I feel like the Polar Bear that's been hibernating all Winter who needs a little nap in the sun to warm up and get up to speed. But next weekend it's trail running for sure! (maybe)