Our neck of the Catskills is a bit like Narnia between Oct 1 and mid-May. I say this because it can (and will) snow almost every day, even if it is just a little flurry overnight. Continue reading
After a notably light winter in terms of snow accumulation on the East Coast, early March has gifted us with a couple of decent storms already.Continue reading
On a recent snowy weekend, B and I hiked West Kill peak. It starts on a trail head that we have hiked many times in the past. Notably, it is the trail on which Diamond Notch Falls (see above photo) is located. The peak was mostly socked in. But the scenery along the trail was worth the effort. Continue reading
The Kelly Hollow trail is a nice little ~4 mile loop that is a fairly quick drive from our spot in the Catskills. I like this trail because it is easy enough that Lola can still make it the whole way on her geriatric little paws. It also has some nice scenery, despite being closed in on all sides by Millbrook Ridge (I think). B and I had never hiked it in the winter until recently, when some friends of ours were upstate for a holiday weekend. This is typically a pretty popular hike because the trail is so mellow. Amazingly, we did not encounter another soul on the trail that day. I launched the drone over the beaver pond located roughly at the halfway point on the trail. The pond was partially frozen over and had a very cool looking gradient from above. Another cool visual element was that the trees were only snowy above a certain elevation line, but not along the trail (see bottom photo). Here are a couple of the images (our party is in the lower right corner of the top photo, for reference).
December 2022 has been one of the snowiest Decembers in the Catskills, in recent memory. As luck would have it, B and I were able to spend the entire second half of the month enjoying said snow. Here is a mega-gallery from some of our adventures in the snowy outdoors the last couple of weeks in 2022.Continue reading
Our local ski mountain closed their lifts for the season about two weeks ago. Between then and now, we experienced few days where the temps peaked in the 70s. It was definitely feeling like spring. Then last Monday night it started flurrying and we woke up the next morning to about a foot of snow. At first I was super annoyed. But looking back though IG history, I realized that this photo was taken on April 18, 2020. It was a nice reminder that anything can happen during the shoulder seasons in the Catskills, and I should have seen it coming. After all, can’t get too annoyed at something so pretty. After shoveling the deck, I walked around the yard with my knock-around rig and snapped a couple of shots (below). In the afternoon when the snow died down a bit, I launched the drone (obv) and got the above snap.
Continued from Part 3… Monday morning we woke up to a thick blanket of fog socking in South Lake Tahoe. We threw all of our gear into the Jeep and headed toward Kirkwood, which was about a 30 minute drive away. As we turned off of the main highway and started to head up the windy canyon road, we quickly broke through the cloud barrier. Above the fog, it was another bluebird day with the sun blazing overhead. Since it was a Monday, and we showed up on the early side, we were able to get an amazing parking spot right at the base of the lift. It was so warm that we took our time suiting up, before meeting our Expedition Kirkwood mountain guide for the day, Chris.
Our first run was off of chair number 5, “Solitude.” We felt the stoke settling in as it became apparent that we were going to have this mountain mostly to ourselves, with tons of snow and virtually spring weather. Chris lead us down a couple of groomers to get a sense of our riding ability before taking us to a back bowl that was capped in a giant cornice famously called “the wave.” We rode the “Sunrise” lift for two or three runs, each time stopping to take in the view from the shoulder of Thimble Peak. Thank you to mountain guide Chris for the photo directly below.
Chris took us back to Mountain Village from the back bowl, where we caught chair number 6, “Cornice Express.” From there we traversed a massive cliff section to Sentinel Bowl. We alternated between tree runs and cat track switchbacks. I could tell that this zone would be insanely fun with a couple of inches of fresh. Even with the sun softening up the top layer of 5 day old snow, it was some really good riding.
At lunch time, we soaked in some sun and enjoyed a locally brewed beer at Mountain Village. As the afternoon waxed on, we explored various runs off Wagon Wheel Bowl, and a few other spots on the main mountain. When it came time to call it a day, we were totally spent. This was the first time in recent history that either of us had spent four days in a row riding all day long. It was pretty amazing.
After going through the longstanding ritual of changing clothes in the ski resort parking lot (at least it was sunny and nice out), we packed up the Jeep and headed back toward Reno. The drive was pretty quick and painless. One suggestion that I have for anyone taking the Jetblue red-eye to NYC out of Reno: eat before you get to the airport. Every restaurant and bar shuts down at 8:30. One more pointer, the Jetlbue desk at the Reno airport is not open until 8:45. So, take your time getting to the airport.
When B and I boarded the plane, we saw a familiar face. One of our NYC based friends was working the flight. She hooked us up with neck pillows and blankets, which is the last thing I remember before landing at JFK. This was the soundest that I have ever slept on an airplane. Once on the ground, we picked up our board bags and grabbed an UBER home. The flight landed early enough to miss rush hour for the most part. We were back in Manhattan in less than an hour, in time to shower and head to the office. And that… is how, from NYC to Reno, we rode four Tahoe resorts in four days.
Continued from Part 2… Sunday morning we woke up at the crack of dawn, walked across the street and met up with a legend. I don’t use that word lightly. Along with “extreme” and “epic,” I feel like “legend” has become a little bit diluted from overuse. This dude, however, is the real deal. His name is Kevin Cooper. Everyone knows him as “Coop.” As we came to find out during the course of the rest of the weekend, he is the type of guy who should have his own Wikipedia page. If he ever writes an autobiography, I would stand in line to buy it. Anyway, we had some breakfast burritos at Heaven’s Little Cafe, which is literally a snowball’s throw from the entrance to the gondola in Heavenly Village. The burritos were legit. As we fueled up, Coop gave us the lowdown for the day of riding that lay ahead of us.
Our first taste of the surreal scenery that Heavenly offers was riding the gondola from Heavenly Village to the Tamarack Lodge. I tried to snap a couple of shots through the gondola window with my celly (top photo), but it really doesn’t do it justice. The gondola deposited us at the base of Tamarack Express, which provides access to the California side of the resort, as well as the rest of the Nevada side. We spent most of the morning hitting groomers on the California side of the hill, just carving up corduroy. Before lunch, Coop took us through some nice tree runs off of Sky Express. We also took a quick lap through the terrain park, which was still being built out for the season.
After lunch we headed back to the NV side of the resort via Skyline Trail. One lap down this thing pays for your lift ticket. It is a slow narrow cat track that feels like an amusement park ride. I say that because there is so much scenery going on in every direction it is difficult to know which way to look. The experience is akin to being on the observation deck of at 30 Rock (better than the Empire State Building) or the top of the Eiffel Tower. Sadly I did not get any photos from Skyline. Honestly, they would been insufficient to convey what being up there is like. There is no lens wide enough to accurately capture that experience.
Coop had another engagement for the afternoon, so B and I spent the latter half of the day exploring different tree runs on the Nevada side of the resort. The afternoon sun had softened up the snow considerably, and it was quite forgiving even in the dense pines. After 3 full days of riding, it was a nice reward to be able to take in lake views once again, riding the gondola back to Heavenly Village. I should add that there were two lovely ladies handing out warm cookies and hot chocolate at Tamarack Lodge. B shot me a look as she collected her free cup of hot chocolate as if to say “now I see why they call it Heavenly.”
B and I headed back to the Becket for a little apres ski, before meeting up with Coop for dinner at Kalani’s. We drank local wine, ate some amazing fish and had some great conversation. The highlight was Coop telling us stories about his father-in-law Dick Reuter from the days he was enlisted to develop the terrain at Kirkwood Mountain. Listening to him recount all of the close calls that Dick and his crew had with dynamite, had my abs sore from laughing. It was an awesome day from start to finish. B and I both slept like rocks that night, dreaming about what our last day in Tahoe would have in store for us.
Continued from Part 1…. Saturday morning we ventured to the highest altitude resort in Tahoe, Mount Rose. Most resorts were reporting 23 feet of fresh snow in January. Mount Rose got 30 feet. It was apparent from when we first pulled into the lot that this resort was a “local” mountain. They still have the hang-tag lift tickets and everything. The traditional crowd and vibe was just the icing on the cake (the cake being the conditions and terrain). Most of the locals that we met were from Reno, which made sense, since Reno was entirely visible from the top of the “Northwest” lift. Mount Rose is like the Two Face character from Batman. On one side of the resort there are a series of gnarly chutes that stay buttery soft from being in the shade all day long. On the other side of the mountain, you have Slide Bowl, which is wide open groomers with a party at the bottom.
Yeah, there was a full blown biergarten at the bottom of Slide Bowl with $2 beers and $2 brats. In New York prices that is basically negative 10 dollars for all you can eat and drink. The DJ was alternating between polka and trap tunes. As if the high altitude beers and jams weren’t enough, Mount Rose held a stein race open to all of those bold enough to compete. As far as midday ski breaks go, it was basically heaven. Our boy Mike Pierce was the master of ceremony; rocking lederhosen, filling steins and calling out the races. Vibe was so nice and family friendly that we almost felt like Tahoe adoptees.
After two solid days of riding north lake, we packed up our board bags and headed to south lake. The scenery along the way was bananas. It was all I could do to keep my eyes on the road. We hit a nice horseshoe bend right before dusk and pulled off to take a couple of snaps. Mind you, we had to climb over a 10 foot bank of snow to get these images. Worth it. Also try not to judge base layer outfits too much.
Saturday evening we arrived in south lake. We checked into Hotel Becket. This recently reno’ed boutique gem was exactly what we were looking for after two straight days shredding the gnar. For those seeking a raucous nightclubby scene, it is probably not the spot to choose. If you are looking for mellow lodging that is uber-proximate to the Heavenly gondola, you can’t do much better. After checking in we wandered around Heavenly Village for a bit before ultimately dining at the new pub-restaurant at the Becket. When I say new, I mean it was literally the first night that they were actually open since the renovation. The staff were a handful of locals that looked like agency models wearing flannel. For apps, we had the wings and the fried pickles. Both were delicious. Hard to mess up fried food. But very good, just the same. Main course-wise I went for the chicken sando and a locally brewed IPA that was on tap. I was not disappointed. With food in our bellies and smiles on our faces, we retired for some much needed sleep.