The seven foot walls of snow in front of the house are long gone. They’re now replaced by lush green grass and adventures of mountain biking and spring corn huntin’ in the alpine. The idea of getting one more run of powder in mid-May is tempting to consider, but could it really happen? We’ve had a few surprise storms that fizzled out and laid down a blanket more reminiscent of a slurpee than powder. Sitting in front of the computer staring at the NOAA forecast, it looked like it might happen – powder that is – but it was going to be a VERY short window to hit it if it does.
Storm cometh… or not?
The day before doesn’t hint at anything about the upcoming storm. The sun shines in South Lake Tahoe like any typical spring day. Then a little after noon, the weather begins to hint at a change. Clouds filter into town and the leaves above the house flutter. Is it going to happen? With chores and meetings filling the day, we go about our normal routine. Later that night around eight o’clock as we left Tahoe Mountain Lab, we’re spritzed with a light drizzle. Oh boy! Looking at each other we smirk. We might as well try, right? Chores are done, gear is laid out, and alarm clock is set. We’re going for it… fingers crossed!
It’s 5:00 am… do you know where your head’s at?
Just like any great powder day, I wake up wondering “…will the snow be good?” Setting our expectations low, we make our objective for the mission more on enjoying the day in the backcountry than getting-after-it. To give us the best odds, we head over to Carson Pass. With the highest starting elevation, if the snow was going to be good, it would be there. Making a quick breakfast, we grab a few trail bars and head out.
Sunshine and green grass… no snow to be found
This time of year, the idea of a powder day is odd to say the least. Bumping our way through South Lake Tahoe passing Cold Water Brewery, Keys Café, and other local joints, we make our way towards Meyers. Click, click, click… the turn signal announces our intentions of making a left onto Luther Pass. Still no snow to be seen ANYWHERE! Continuing our way up the road, it’s slippery but clear.
Hope Valley… leads to Hope
Dropping down from Luther Pass, we enter Hope Valley. The name fits today. Stevens Peak and Red Lake Peak look like sirens. Covered in white snow from the distance, it looks like it might be a good day even though the valley itself is quite green. Rising from the valley, we continue towards our destination where the peaks look white but not so powdery.
Strappin’ on our gear we head out…
From the parking lot, we quickly gear up. Beacons? Check. Probe? Check. Shovel? Check. Plan? Check. We head out from the base and start our ascent. We zoom our way through the forest and get into the Alpine. The snow is firm but still nice. As we skin up one of the north faces, we’re greeted by beautiful sunshine and what looks like amazing snow. The higher we go, the better it looks. Finally, we make it to today’s destination drop point.
Dropping in and the snow is…. GOOOOOODDDD!!!!
As we snap our splitboards back together and ratchet our bindings, we stare down at the slope below. It looks good but how good? Jaime gives me the nod and has me drop in first. Timidly, I make my first turn. It’s soft, creamy and awesome! I accelerate and begin to open it up taking bigger and more pronounced turns. In fact, it’s AMAZING!!!!! I’m giddy at what’s happening.
Yelling at the top of my lungs with joy, I stop half-way, looking up to Jaime. Like a duck to water, she starts out slow as well and then lets it rip. I watch as she surfs across the snow. As she approaches me, we drop in at the same time riding down the rest of the way together. Boy, is it fun! Pulling up to the bottom, we look back at our handiwork. Was it the deepest or best powder? Nope, but it’s May 17th, and we just got a powder run in. I call that an EPIC day!