Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Spring Skiing

Sun, slush and re-fuelling on the patio is what I think of when I think of spring skiing. And with record snowfalls keeping the resorts open through Memorial Day weekend, we thought this was the year to give spring skiing a go. We booked a wonderful condo suite right in Squaw Valley village for a great discounted rate, dug out our ski gear and headed out. At the last minute I threw in our winter jackets, and that proved to be a good move: this version of spring skiing was more like "Manuary" complete snow squalls, full winter gear and even a wonderful dump of powder. Squaw Valley proved to be a great choice with varied terrain to suit all skill levels and enough action in the village to keep everyone entertained at the end of the day. The outdoor pool and sauna at the top was open, and would be fabulous on a slightly warmer weekend...perhaps July 4? Many Tahoe area ski resorts are opening Independence Day weekend for one last blast of skiing (yes there really was that much snow) plus lots of other great activities. Ski and swim in the same day? You bet!


Most visitors to California have Yosemite National Park on their list of 'must dos'. It's so popular that accommodations start booking up a year in advance. But if you have the luxury of flexibility thanks to living just a four hour drive away, as those of us in the Bay Area do, an overnight trip is easy to fit in. Because while the on-line reservations often show the park fully booked months ahead, a generous cancellation policy means spots often open up, so start checking 7 to 10 days before you hope to go, and chances are you will find a spot. Spring is often considered the best time to visit, as the waterfalls are at their best. This year, thanks to a deep snow pack and a late spring melt, the waterfalls are still going strong. A word of warning: Yosemite Valley can get very hot in the summer. While there are some lodge-style accommodations within the park, the majority are either campng spots or 'tent cabins': basically a small wood frame canvas-covered tents, packed quite close together, that can really get cooking in the warm weather. If you spring for a signature tent cabin, you should be lucky enough to have an electrical socket included with your basic beds and small shelf, which not only proves handy for a fan or space heater, depending on the time of year, but also was used, I admit, to re-charge cell phones and our portable DVD players. (For the drive home only; they were off limits while in this spectacular park - although the boys did not even ask to watch them once, there were so many better things to do right outside our door).
We'd heard a few complaints about the quality of food in Curry Village, but found Degan's Deli, a short walk or free shuttle bus ride away in Yosemite Village, to be just fine and surprisingly reasonable to boot. We will certainly be making a return visit to this lovely spot. Hikes range from flat and paved to steep and challenging; there are miles of flat bike trails; ranger shows that were both humorous and educational and many other special activities happening each day.