Sierra Snow

I spotted the Golden Gate Bridge beneath my plane’s window, as we approached San Francisco for a landing.

In early February I took a trip to Nevada to visit my cousin Debbie. She is one of my favourite people in the whole world and we had not seen each other for years. Several snowstorms were rolling through the region during that time and I became afraid that if I made the two-day journey by car, I would get trapped in one of those storms. Instead I made the one-day journey by plane for less than the cost of gas!

I arrived just before a storm hit. On our way home from the airport it started to get bad and we even had to re-route due to an accident on the highway. By the next morning, their neighborhood was a winter wonderland.

These hills are right outside my cousin’s neighborhood and I decided to hike up to them.

I had brought winter gear with me, so I bundled up and walked out the front door with my camera. We had not yet had any snow at home in Rainier, so this snow was the first snow of the winter for me!

I walked through the sagebrush and juniper and spotted a dozen rabbits bouncing through the fresh snow, leaving their tracks everywhere. I wanted so badly to capture them in photo, but as I tried in vain, I remembered the expression quick like a bunny.

My views of snow, sagebrush, rabbit tracks, and mountains as I plowed through the snow up the gradual slope.
Here I found a rabbit highway.
Sagebrush has a beautiful smell that rose up around me as I tromped through. I picked a few branches to take home with me.
I don’t know what this bush is, but it is also pretty.
Every now and then the sun would break through and light up the landscape.

We had been checking the road conditions online all morning, waiting to see if a particular pass would open up so we could head up to stay the night in a cabin we had reserved in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. The overnight snowstorm had closed highways all over the place. Lines of trucks showed up on the traffic cameras, one line waiting to go East, and the other waiting to go West. Everything stopped in the middle due to 4-8 feet of freshly fallen snow.

We had decided earlier that if the roads weren’t open by 2pm, we would have to give up on the trip because we would need a couple hours of daylight to safely drive up as far as we could go, then snowshoe into the cabin, hauling our gear for the night, and dig the cabin door out of the snow so we could get in. It would not be a good idea to take any chances in this kind of adventure when temperatures drop quickly after dark and we would be in snow depths over our heads. I checked the time and saw that it was time to head back to make sure I was there by 2pm.

When I turned around, I saw the neighborhood at the bottom of the hill.
Snow can make even a mud puddle look pretty.

Highway 88 remained closed all day. The next morning Debbie and I were getting restless. We packed up for a road trip up there anyway, just to see all the snow. We brought our cameras, but it was hard to get many good photos. It was still snowing in the mountains, even though there was blue sky and sunshine in the valleys. We quickly crossed the Nevada/California border and spent most of the trip in the California Sierra. Roads were open as far as Kirkwood Mountain Resort, but just after the entrance into the parking lot, we could see the gate across Highway 88, where no traffic was allowed because the plows had not yet been able to clear the roads sufficiently.

At Kirkwood Mountain Ski Resort, the snow was absolutely appropriate.
Parking lots were packed with people excited to get onto the slopes buried in several feet of new snow.
This car had obviously been parked here yesterday, before the storm began. I had to chuckle that the owner was thoughtful enough to raise the wipers, but apparently had not planned on 4 feet of snow!!
Looking across the creek that runs through the center of the Kirkwood resort. You can see the ski slopes behind the buildings.

When we were done looking around at the ski resort, we then looked for places to take photos. That was a challenge because plows had only time to clear a path for cars, but not enough time for luxuries like clearing extra space on the side of the road to pull over, out of traffic. Deb and I could not find many safe places to stop.

Here is the wall of snow at one of the plowed pull-outs that we found.
A ray of light burst through snow showers.
In this one I was trying to highlight the icicle in the branches.
And then the sun blinked out and it was back to snow.
Down in the valley again, there was less snow but more sun.
My cousin Debbie is an accomplished photographer.

The road trip into the snow kept us from feeling the disappointment of not being able to stay in the cabin overnight. The next morning we all woke up early and Debbie took me back to the airport in Reno. My flight left on time, just ahead of another snow storm.

18 thoughts on “Sierra Snow

  1. Yesterday, I came across the photos I took. I can’t believe that I completely forgot about them. They were still on the memory card in the camera! Unbelievable!!!

    We are still trying to get up to the resort. CalTrans is working day and night trying to keep Carson Spur open for more than two days at a time. When they finally open the road, Mike or I have prior commitments. When we are free to travel, the road is closed again and there is no scheduled reopening date. This weekend, four to six feet of new snow is expected on top of the last storms eight feet. I think one could stack a couple of semi-trailers on top of each other and still not reach the top of the snow bank.

    Your visit, albeit brief, was delicious. I savored every moment. We must do it again. Love you, cousin.

    1. I’m glad you found your photos. It was a brief visit but so overdue. I really needed to see you. Now that the first visit happened, maybe it’ll be easier to head over. I’ve got a blogger friend near Ashland who offered up a guest bedroom, so when the weather is better I’ll be game for a road trip!

      I saw your facebook photos of Kit Carson Lodge. Holy Moly! That’s a crazy amount of snow. I’ve never seen that much snow in person in my life. Well, at Crater Lake later in the season after everything had been plowed out, but that’s not the same. You guys are awesome to head out there. You must have been amazed.

  2. You do love walking on the edge, my friend. I love snow too, just not that much. šŸ™‚ I’ll look at it from inside my windows thank you very much. Great shots and I’m glad you made it both ways safely, and had some fun to boot. Spring is coming. šŸ™‚ I’ll complain about that later. šŸ˜‰ Enjoy this sunshine.

    1. I have enjoyed the sunshine so much! It has been terribly cold in the mornings. It was 23 degrees this morning! But after it gets above freezing, I’m game to head outside as long as I can be in the sun and feel a little bit warmer. Clouds apparently moving in again tomorrow, but it has been a wonderful few sunny days. My boyfriend is coming from Rhode Island tomorrow. He has never seen Oregon or Washington in his life. Now, won’t that be fun to show him around? I’m super excited. šŸ™‚

      I’m glad Debbie feels comfortable driving in the snow. She lives there, outside of Reno, and gets to drive in it every winter. The roads were fine and we had no problems at all, though the vehicle did have 4WD. It was fun to have a girls day out, and if it had to be in the snow, so be it!!

      1. ha ha ha!! Sorry, yes, it deserves an email or visit. Right now, said bf is still visiting and will be headed back to Rhode Island in a few days, so I’ll resurface then. šŸ™‚

  3. For all of you end of the world seekers, you’d better hurry. It is melting! Typical of the Nevada desert, last week we were snowing and the next day sunny and in the 60s. Each night we still drop into the low 20s, burr.

    The Sierra Nevada Range still has a record snowpack. The spring melt began mid last week with high Sierra creeks peaking through their winter snow cover with minimal impact to our rivers here in the valley. We can expect more Sierra snow storms through March and April leaving inches of snow instead of feet. Spring is here.

    For our valley, Eagle Valley, Spring will be snow flurries and cool rain, what Eastern Oregon calls winter, with high temps typically in the 50s. Alas, the lows still below freezing until the end of April perhaps mid-May. Yep, I cannot safely plant a garden outside until late May. šŸ˜¦

    I do grow tomatoes from plants purchased from the nursery. I plant them in pots that I haul in and out of our house. Since we are colder here than Reno, I wait two weeks after the weather forecaster for Reno says they are having their last frost before I know our house is safe for outdoor planting.

    Now, if I could figure a way to keep the squirrels out of the tomatoes, I never knew the four-legged, fluffy tail, loud mouth twits were my nemesis until I spotted the little buggers. Nearly the entire season I was blaming the wide variety of birds. I looked silly standing in my yard last year apologizing to all of my feathered friends, but apologies were due. Except for the crows, they are just nasty, rude, and thieves but that’s for another day.

    Happy Spring everyone,
    Crystal’s Nevada cousin Debbie

    1. Great update from snow-land, beautiful cousin!! I’m really glad to hear about the record snowpack. While I was recently in Seattle visiting my brother, he and I began questioning each other about snowpack and what we had heard about the mountains west of Seattle and Portland. My boyfriend looks at his girlfriend and says, “Is this what people from Idaho talk about?” Ha ha. Yep. When you grow up in the dried-out West, the state of snowpack is a constant concern.

      I had squirrels eating my pumpkins one year and made a concoction in a spray bottle, of water, vegetable oil, and cayenne pepper. I sprayed it onto the squash and the squirrels didn’t eat them anymore.

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