Sunday, April 24, 2016

April 23rd Snow!

Yes, we've had more snow at later times in the season. But it sure was pretty Saturday morning, waking up to see 8 inches of fresh powder!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Of Sun And Sunglasses!

Warning: Public Service Announcement follows. This is info that falls into the category of, "It might be good for me, but I don't want to hear it..."

 On an amazing day last week, we went for a hike under a blazing, hot, high-altitude, spring sun. We went by a dad who carried his little girl on his shoulders.

This picture of fatherly devotion was unfortunately marred. While dad had on a hat and dark sunglasses, daughter - a cute little blonde girl - was without hat and without sunglasses. She squinted against the blinding reflection of the sun on snow.

Even from a distance, we could see that her blue eyes were red, and her scowl was intense. The poor girl was suffering from a serious burn to her skin as well as her retinas. Dad was being so nice to take his daughter out, and he no doubt had no clue about the health hazard he was inflicting on his daughter.

Some years ago, I interviewed an ocularist, a person who makes artificial eyes. She told me that the number one cause of loss of eyes was eye cancer contracted by people with blue eyes, people whose pale irises couldn't take intense sunshine.

And of course we all know what dermatologists say, that sunburn as a child contributes to melanomas as an adult.

Maybe the dad had tried to get his daughter to wear sunglasses and hat and she refused. As a guy without children, I don't pretend to know what difficulties ensue when attempting to convince kids to take protective measures.

But I often notice that teenagers wear sunglasses in dark situations, times and places where it's obvious that they are putting on their Oakleys more because they look cool than because they are trying to protect their eyes.

There must be a simple psychological approach to getting young kids to think that their sunglasses and hat are as cool as their new shoes. Instead of treating sunglasses as protection,  parents could probably do the "reverse psychology" thing of treating sunglasses as a cool accessory, like a new pair of Nikes, a reward to be bestowed as an honor rather than a nagging request for sensible health.

It's hard to get the image out of my mind. Dad happy to enjoy his sunglasses-shaded outing in a spectacular landscape on a beautiful day while his daughter burns. For the next several days, he'll think his little girl is an irritable, complaining problem child while in fact she is coping with serious injury that may lead to future eye cancer.

He wouldn't let his daughter put herself in danger with other sources of burn. But he's willingly carrying her around at 7000 feet under the hot sun with no protection at all.

Please help spread the word to people you know who have children. Sunglasses are not just comforts for adults. They are essential protection for all people without very dark eyes. Especially on reflective snow or water. Especially at high altitude. Make those sunglasses cool. Be hard and uncompromising if necessary. Do whatever it takes.

That ocularist earns a good living making prostheses for people who are blinded by too much sun.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Late-Winter Magic

The most recent major snow got us away from the computer and painting easel, and we headed out for some springtime back-country skiing. (See last week's post.)

Combine Tahoe views with snow and you get OMG beautiful.

There are a thousand places in Tahoe where you can just head out the door of your vacation rental or SUV and head into the high country. Each hundred feet of elevation gained gets you deeper snow and grander views. (Always be aware of avalanche danger and stay off and away from steep slopes, especially those that face northeast.)

Nearly all of Tahoe is U.S. Forest Service land and open to the public. As long as you don't park where snow removal operations are in progress, your options are endless.

Strap on your boards or snowshoes and find a gradual path up through the forest.

As the sun lowers, and the clouds roll through the mountains, it's time to take a break, pull the cheese and beer out of your pack and take in the view. This view is looking at Heavenly Mountain. The highest hump, lit by the afternoon sun, is the top of Sky Chair at 10,000 feet.

And this view is of Mt. Tallac, 9735 feet, as the sun brushes the ridgeline leading to the summit. The bare slope in the foreground is where the Angora Fire swept through in 2007.

Several of the ski resorts, like Squaw, Alpine, and Kirkwood, will likely be open well into May and maybe even June. And there'll be high-altitude back-country skiing through most of the summer.

Come on up the mountains for spring! The tourist crowds are gone, and you'll have Tahoe mostly to yourself!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Which Is Better? Back-Country, Or Lift-Served?

Planning one last winter blast in the mountains? Then you have a decision to make. Do you want to thrill to the wonders of lift-served terrain? Or do you want to find your own place in the wilderness?
View Of Heavenly Mountain From The Back Country

View From Up On Heavenly Mountain
Here’s quick primer on which sport is better. Find the traits you like most, then check the appropriate sport, Back-Country Skiing and Boarding, or Lift-Served Skiing and Boarding:

Desires I Most Want Back-Country Lift-Served
Excitement Check Check

Greatest Rush Of Speed Check

Affordability Check

People Watching Check

Wildlife Watching Check

Gorgeous Views Check Check

Crowd Excitement Check

Exercise Check Check

Least Traffic Check

Solitude Check

Beer and Burgers 
on the Sun Deck Check

Most Vertical Feet 
Skied Per Day Check

Best Place To Meet 

People Like You   Check Check

Best Place To Take Your Dog Check


Total Checks 9 9

Winner Check Check