Snow, glorious Snow!
I wanted to shout it from the mountaintops, proclaiming my deep appreciation for the return of my long lost friend Winter. Though not yet in full force, She has blessed us with some more heaven dust to play upon, with forecasts predicting more soon. After last year’s epic El Niño, when we were blessed with 17 good days on mountain, this Winter pales in comparison so far. But it’s relatively early in the season, and I’ll be grateful for whatever falls from the sky!
The Sierra Nevada mountains of California hold a piece of my soul in their weathered but stoic granite crags. In Summer they’re a playground for two wheels and two feet, and in the Winter, a snowboarding heaven. Kirkwood has long been my steady refuge for finding bliss, riding over snow like butter. Snowboarding with my husband Ron is one of my favorite all-time things to do together. It’s not only hella fun, but spiritual. The Sacred Silence of Snow is something I savor. Escaping to the mountains provides a fresh perspective on life, easing concerns about what’s going on down valley.
A bonus this trip was getting to break in my new board, boots, and bindings. I love them! After riding a dinosaur set-up of a 14-year old Salomon 156cm board, with equally old boots and bindings, I was beyond ready for an upgrade. And so I did, to an all-Burton set up: a Burton Custom Flying V 158 board, with Malavita bindings, and Ion boots. As with any new gear, there is always some time spent adjusting before and while riding the mountain. With only a few changes on the first day riding with my new gear, I found my sweetspot and was confidently riding without a second thought by the end of the day. It is such an upgrade indeed! The pop and responsiveness are so much better than I’ve ever known, and my feet felt good. I’ve still got some breaking in to do, but overall – Success!
With only a couple of days in this season so far, I am really looking forward to some more good days on the mountain this season. Ron and I buy season passes every year at Kirkwood, and since it was bought by Vail a few years ago, the prices have steadily risen, along with the inefficiencies and big corporate attitude that are a stark contrast to the old Kirkwood I knew as a kid. It’s always been sort of funky in its own right; minimalist in amenities and services, with maximum terrain and snow to far make up for it. It’s the best place for snow in California as far as I’m concerned.
More concerning are the real and imminent ramifications of climate change, particularly in this holy place I and so many others love and cherish so dearly. It’s not just the recreation that the Sierras provide year-round, of course. The dire issue is the freshwater supply that long established ecosystems, and we 39 million Californians, are existentially dependent upon from that snowfall. With the hottest years on record occurring within my adult lifetime, I’ve pretty much grown up hearing we may not have our Sierra snowpack by the time I’m old and grown. Though each Winter brings its own anomalies, complexly driven by warming and cooling oscillations in ocean temperatures and other factors, the overall trend is warmer and drier. Check out Protect Our Winters for some more interesting information about snow and climate change.
In the meantime, I try to enjoy what’s here now. Winter is already a third of the way complete. The days are getting longer, and before we know it, Spring blossoms will color the hillsides like fireworks. Enjoy the Winter while it’s here, however you like to. Whether you’re moving over land or water, whether frozen or liquid, have fun. It’s so important to do what you love and makes you happy, whatever it is. Keep on flowing with grace!