As we settle into the reality of what yet another month of staying home might mean, it’s important not to get too stir crazy. Kids are home, roommates are home, your house feels smaller than ever, and the pressure to be productive is encroaching on any free space left. First of all, let’s just take a long, slow, deep breath. Hold it in. Let it out. Good.
Over the past month, ski resorts have closed all across the world and, here in the Sierra, just as winter finally arrived — as we’re very well aware. Thankfully, Tahoe still has ample options to explore the great outdoors. Here’s a guide to social distancing while you’re venturing out and about in the region.
Steve Reynaud, an avalanche forecaster with the Sierra Avalanche Center and owner of Tahoe Mountain School, in a previous article told Moonshine that since the governor’s stay-at-home order, there’s been a surge of backcountry use. (See: Do Not Visit Tahoe/Truckee online.) Reynaud stressed the importance of not straining local medical resources and recommended that “everybody should hopefully use the avalanche forecast [a tool created by the SAC] on a daily basis, no matter if they’re snowshoeing or backcountry skiing or cross-country skiing … definitely use the product.”
Enjoying the outdoors during quarantine:
First of all, let’s rename social distancing to physical distancing. As we’ve seen with the endless screenshots of Zoom and FaceTime calls over the past few weeks, socializing and checking in with loved ones is a key component in maintaining good mental health, even when we’re forced into technologically assisted communication only.
However, physical distancing from one another is ever so crucial to avoid the spread of the virus. So when you’re on the trails in the next month, please, for the love of all the things you love, practice physical distancing. Experts are saying to stay 6 feet apart, but let’s aim for 10 feet, just for safety’s sake. But, remember, we’re still human: Eye contact and aare just fine to remind one another we’re all in this strange time together.
If you’re used to exercising with a buddy, call said buddy on the phone as you walk or bike. If you’re exploring the backcountry, drive yourself to meet your friends, and be conscious of the space between you.
Cross-country trails: Tahoe XC out of Dollar Point is currently grooming for preexisting season pass holders only.
Backcountry: Be aware of avalanche warnings, always bring your beacon and probe (and know how to use them!), and never go alone (see 10-foot distancing suggestion above). Some local backcountry favorites are Castle Peak and Mt. Rose. To skin up Castle Peak, take the same exit as Boreal Mountain right off Interstate 80, but head the other direction. Access for Mt. Rose is easy from the top of State Route 431, Mt. Rose Highway, above the Northeast Shore of Lake Tahoe.
Snowshoeing trails: Donner Summit is a personal favorite for snowshoeing. To access the area, drive up Donner Pass Road and park across the street from Donner Ski Ranch. For lakeside paths, try hopping on the Tahoe Rim Trail at Ward Creek (near Tahoe City) to Twin Peaks Trail for a lightly trafficked 11-mile out-and-back trail.
Paved walking/running/biking trails: The Legacy Trail in Truckee is 9.1 miles along the Truckee River. The Tahoe Trailways Bike Path in Tahoe City serves as a bike path hub, which connects to trails that lead to Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley to the west, Sugar Pine Point State Park to the south, and Dollar Point to the east. The Incline Village/Lakeshore Drive Bike Path takes you along parts of the East Shore.
So grab your hand sanitizer, listen to “Wide Open Spaces” by The Dixie Chicks, and get to it.
Photo by Wade Snider | Illustrations by Sarah Miller/Moonshine Ink