Winter Wrap-Up, Spring Equinox

Today is the Vernal Equinox, the first day of Spring! In the temperate regions of Earth, we are defined by the cycles of four distinct seasons. As we say goodbye to Winter and welcome the Spring, I always feel bittersweet: I love Winter, and I love Spring. There is something so comforting and rejuvenating about Wintertime, however, that I don’t want to let it go. I relish long nights inside while it rains outside; I beam with excitement thinking about the snow that’s falling at Kirkwood, where Ron and I have season passes. Winter is restful, but there’s a lot of progress internally – writing, playing music, home improvements, you name it. Winter is the time to get your ducks in a row so you can go out and play all Summer long. It’s a time for taking care of all those “little” things that you’re too busy to get to when the days are longer and you’re out playing until dark. It’s also time for one of my favorite activities: snowboarding.

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Robins, a sign of Spring

Last weekend, Ron and I spent three days snowboarding amid a massive Winter storm that ultimately dropped five feet of powder! We rode Heavenly on the first day because Kirkwood wasn’t accessible with both Carson Spur and Pass both closed on Highway 88; with our season passes, we got half-off tickets. I hadn’t ridden Heavenly since I was a teenager, when my Dad and I had a magical afternoon in Mott Canyon. Ron killed it driving through the blizzard conditions on Highway 50 over Echo Summit as I slept most of the way, getting us to Heavenly, where it was dumping. We hit Gunbarrel, a notoriously moguled run, but with waist-deep powder and inches falling by the hour, it was bottomless pow – truly Heavenly! We had an amazing day exploring the mountain mostly by ourselves, as there were few people there on that Friday. Riding on a weekday is a real treat!

 

We stayed at one of our favorite places in South Lake Tahoe, the Lakeshore Lodge & Spa, for two nights. Looking out on the lake invokes serenity and gratitude. As the sunset through snow flurries, I couldn’t help feel that I never wanted to leave this place. Tahoe has a special place in my heart, through Winter and Summer seasons, and I dream of owning a cabin up there someday.

 

 

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Kirkwood was amazing the next couple of days. Every run was soft, buttery goodness with no bumps or hardpack. We had fresh powder on every run, and got epic first runs on the backside of the mountain, Chair 4. Flowing over freshly fallen powder is indescribable. You have to experience it for yourself to know the feeling. It’s like floating while being gently pushed by wind. There’s an effortlessness to it, a real flow that just goes without force. There is nothing quite like the Sacred Silence of Snow

 

It doesn’t hurt that I’m riding an amazing new snowboard: a Burton Custom Flying V 158cm that I am in love with. I also have new Burton Ion boots and Malavita bindings. My setup is tight. The board is unsinkable – even in 4’+ of powder, its nose stays up like duckbill. Through untracked powderfields, it cut with authority. It’s quick and responsive, yet plows like a barge. Both sportscar and Cadillac, I’ve found my perfect board!

 

 

 

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Fresh Tracks at Kirkwood

 

These trips to Tahoe, Winter or Summer, are gems I treasure – each one faceted in its own way, its luster shiny or earthy. Experiences outdoors with our loved ones are what life’s all about. Doing what we love with whom we love is a true gift to be cherished. I’m grateful that we got to ride our bikes a lot more this Winter than last year when Él Niño brought record rainfall.

 

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Thunder Saddle & Eagle Bowl

Speaking of bikes? I’m getting a new bike! I just ordered it a few hours ago, and am beyond excited to get it in a couple of weeks! What is this new steed? A Santa Cruz Hightower LT! I demo’d it about a month ago, riding all my favorite trails in Santa Cruz, and absolutely fell in love with it. I’m happy to use my Grassroots discount with Santa Cruz bikes for this one! Even with it, I might be eating canned tuna and crackers for awhile until it’s paid off. But at least I’ll have a rad bike! I’ve got my priorities straight, alright.

With Spring approaching, our calendars start filling up with plans – parties, camping trips, and races. I’ll be racing the Sea Otter Classic in April for my fourth year, and have a full slate of races scheduled through Summer. I cannot wait to ride my new bike at the races! After almost five years on my Specialized Camber Comp, I was beyond ready for an upgrade.

I hope your first day of Spring is inspiring you for the longer, warmer days ahead. Whatever your passions, enjoy them whenever you can, as much as you can. Passion is a gift, and should be revered and celebrated where ever it’s directed. We are lucky to have people to love, and things we love to do. At the end of the day, having fun is one of the simplest yet most profound experiences in life. It gives both purpose and motivation. Having fun is living life the way you want to, allowing yourself the liberty to pursue your interests, while connecting with people in a loving, positive way. Each person’s definition of “having fun” is unique, and equally respectable (given that no one is hurting anyone intentionally, of course). To each their own. Doing what you love with whom you love is having fun.

Get after it and go have some fun! Celebrate this short life and make time to do what you love to do. We are lucky to live in a world where we can focus on such a concept. Enjoy the start of Spring as the Winter storms linger, blessed may it be so.

Follow your flow, and lead with Grace.

– Katrin Deetz

Fresh Powder, Fresh Perspective

Snow, glorious Snow!

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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.

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Team KatRon
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Top of Cornice Express

 

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!