March 30, 2019

Emerald Hills

All too soon emerald will fade to olive, olive to gold, gold to brown. The rains will stop. [Right?]

This could be it: the best chance to enjoy Calaveras Reservoir and the surrounding hills at their peak.

Up the wall, which has become less daunting after so many ascents. My heart rate topped out at 181 bpm.

The hills did not disappoint, but there were fewer wildflowers than I've seen here in the past.

How I wanted to drop down the back side, now that the road is (finally) open again! And I would have, had anyone else in the group chosen to continue. But not alone, not today; not without more riding in my legs this season.

Loitering at the turnaround point paid off, as a long stream of motorcycles thundered past; we were grateful not to be sharing the narrow curves with them.

A modest 2,070 feet of climbing over 27 miles, on a shimmering clear day.

March 24, 2019

Sun Day

It had been a month since I'd joined a club ride. Finally, a weekend day without rain, with no other commitments! A ride that would follow a local loop. A ride with a leisurely start time—I could bike to the start! Not too hilly. Not too flat. Not too long. Not too short.

The challenge was to stay with the group, as our (unspecified) route twisted indirectly through unfamiliar neighborhoods. No worries, though; I knew I could make my own way easily enough if I fell behind.

We regrouped in Saratoga at the always-impressive Villa Montalvo after climbing the first of the four hills we'd tackle today.

I suffered less than I'd expected I would; a little cross-training and a little fair-weather bike commuting paid dividends. And spring flowers perked up our spirits.

For the day, 28 miles with 1,960 feet of climbing.

Just right.

March 19, 2019

Wintry Fun

My recent Heavenly trip whetted my appetite for more. I have some (very!) good friends in Utah, with a standing invitation to visit. Somehow I keep letting each winter slip away without planning a trip. Work interferes, and then there are social commitments—like season tickets to San Francisco Ballet.

March, already. Was it too late? [No!] It has been a good year for snow in Utah, too.

I continued warming up at Deer Valley. Although I picked up my skis (Völkl Aurora) a few years ago, they are still “new” to me. The first time I took them out, I worried that my friends had overestimated my skills in recommending these. After reading some reviews this year, it clicked: be more aggressive. Words from an instructor at a long-ago Snowbird Women's Ski Camp echoed in my head. Pep is a better skier than she thinks she is.

Biking, hiking, skiing—all involve lots of leg muscles. But not the same leg muscles. I took a day off, joining my friend on a short, snowy hike in the neighborhood—before spending the next three at my favorite place to ski: Alta.

So much snow! Fresh snow, just before I arrived in town. Picture-perfect skies. No crowds.

No snowboarders. [Sorry, not sorry.]

My confidence returning, I turned onto a black diamond slope after lunch. Pep is a better skier than she thinks she is. It was fine.

I picked up enough speed to make it, easily, uphill to the top of Razor Back. Several times. [I'm likin' these skis.]

I was also liking the lack of bumps. I mean, they're there if that's what you want. And I don't mind flirting with them, now and then. But they're not my thing.

I'm in it for the sheer joy of gliding down the hill.

And the views.

“If you've left anything behind,” my friends warned, “you'll have to come back for it.”


March 3, 2019

Hikers in the Mist

So much rain. So many bike rides canceled.

“Want to go for a hike?” a friend asked.

El Sombroso, he said.

We started up the Woods Trail. 12 miles, he said. [Yikes!]

It was misty.

It was rainy.

Sometimes the sun came out and the cube atop Mt. Umunhum appeared.

There were cascading streams.

And so much green.

There was much talk of newts (but we saw only two).

There were other hikers, including an intrepid group who were delighted when we offered to snap their photo.

The route was, actually, closer to 13 miles.

My legs would ache for days ...

March 1, 2019

Sierra Snow Day

Snow Day!

Growing up, that meant no school. Today it meant ... no work!

The trip to South Lake Tahoe went smoothly, though chain controls were in effect (that includes you, Mr. Bus Driver!). A few of us had front row seats for a little drama that played out between the (male) passenger and (female) driver of a sedan. He pulled out the chains. He read the instructions. He circled the car. He read the instructions some more. He walked out of view, presumably to observe the process on other vehicles. He reappeared and read the instructions again. The driver grew impatient. We considered taking up a collection to pay the $20 fee for one of the professionals to do the job, but we figured that would just add insult to injury.

I haven't skied in three years and planned to take it easy. [Where does the time go?] Of course, I went straight to the top of the mountain.

The trees were pretty, even if my skiing was not. Two years ago, I missed out on skiing at Squaw when I was humbled by the altitude. I had donated blood shortly before that trip; I would not make that mistake again.

It's another snowy year in the Sierras, bringing an official end to California's seven-year drought. Not that we should stop conserving ...

Heavenly straddles the state line, and I made a point of crossing into Nevada. The contrast was stark: dry and brown to the east, blue and white to the west.

Just when I was getting comfortable, we were advised to head down the mountain. The winds (already strong) were picking up, lifts were shutting down, and I couldn't afford to miss the gondola that would return me to the right base. [Sigh.]

Must. Ski. More. [Stay tuned.]