There is no snow in the mountains around Lake Tahoe. It’s eerie, driving around up there in what should be a winter wonderland, knowing it’s January, but looking out on a perfect spring landscape. People walking around in hats and gloves seem like they just don’t want to give up their cool weather fashion and are suffering for it. This is not the ideal time to be planning your Northern California ski trip.
Skiing, though, is not the only reason to head to Tahoe. It’s pretty much an out door adventurer’s paradise, whether your idea of an outdoor adventure is a gentle stroll through outlandishly beautiful scenery, or a punishing backcountry trek. Right now, in fact, is kind of a rare and wonderful moment to go for a hike up there because you don’t need to take all the gear and precautions that winter normally demands, but neither do you have to deal with the heat of summer. Plus there’s a little dab of snow here and there to slide around in, the odd snow man standing his ground, and even an occasional frozen lake to tiptoe a few disbelieving steps out onto. We all are, and should be, very concerned by this drought, but so should we allow ourselves to delight in the strange little bits of magic it delivers us. The Tahoe area, in this moment, is one of those.
The other reason to head to Tahoe in these next weeks, if you find yourself with a weekend to explore California, is that they kind of need you up there. More than maybe anyplace else in the state, their economy is driven by the yearly influx of snow sports enthusiasts and so they suffer the most when we get into one of these drought years. That said, don’t go because you feel guilty. Go because it’s an extraordinary place that’s probably on your list of California destinations, or at least should be, and this just happens to be a great moment to do it.