No Snow Doesn't Mean No Fun!

This post comes from Rachel McCullough, an avid hiker, mountain biker, rock climber, yogi, skier and photographer living in Truckee, CA. Follow @rachelmcphotos on Instagram for stunning images of beautiful Sierra scenery. When Rachel isn’t enjoying her free time in the outdoors, she’s teaching skiing at Northstar California or building and marketing websites for her clients at McCullough Web Services.

Who: Rachel and Garrett McCullough, and lots of family and friends
What: Skiing and hiking
Where: Park City, Utah
When: March 2015

This is the fourth year of drought in Truckee/Tahoe. We could all sit around and complain, and many of us do, as do some of our visitors. There’s no snow, no powder, it’s too warm, it’s too muddy, etc. Please pinch yourselves! Somehow it is easy to forget that we are at Lake Tahoe – one of the most gorgeous lakes in the Sierra, surrounded by incredible and yes, still snow-capped mountains.

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The recent inversions mean lots of fog in the Martis Valley, taken at Northstar California. Photo: Rachel McCullough

This winter I set out to enjoy the season, no matter the weather. I’ve managed to ski about forty days so far, done summer-only hikes in the winter, walked in the bed of Lake Tahoe, took up trail running (to replace XC skiing), driven around without a fear of black ice, and didn’t get rear-ended by a single person! I haven’t dusted my bike off yet, but I know many others who have. I sported shorts and a t-shirt on a few occasions and even managed to wear out a pair of trail running shoes. Definitely not a typical scenario, but I’ve been having fun anyway. Any day outside in fifty degrees and sun is better than lounging around at home sulking about the lack of snow.

But, a little change isn’t a bad thing. So, when the opportunity to visit Park City, UT came up, I took it. Not that they had any more snow than Tahoe, but it’s something new! So, off we went to our sister Olympic City for some skiing, hiking, family time, and to reconnect with old friends, plus make new ones.

For someone who hasn’t skied outside of the Sierra in ten-plus years, there were plenty of new and different things to see and do. In addition to skiing and hiking, I ticked off riding a roller coaster and a zip line at Park City.

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Mogul run at Park City. Photo: Rachel McCullough
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Park City view after the drizzle cleared up, plus more moguls. Photo: Garrett McCullough
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Sporting the Anon WM1 goggles at Park City. Photo: Garrett McCullough
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Park City groomer. Photo: Rachel McCullough

At The Canyons, we rode standing up in an open-air gondola, also known as the “people-freezer.” We also gave the Orange Bubble chairlift a go; with its toasty warm seat and orange Plexiglas wind shield. And, since there wasn’t any fresh snow, we skied moguls galore. Icy moguls, slushy moguls, and everything in between. And plenty of steeps. We ogled at the open bowls just through the side country gates and imagined bottomless powder, but wore our legs out on long steep bump runs and ended each day tired.

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About to drop in off Ninety-nine 90 at The Canyons. Photo: Rachel McCullough
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Water skiing, anyone? The Canyons with Garrett and Micah. Photo: Rachel McCullough
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The Orange Bubble Express at The Canyons. Photo: Rachel McCullough

We went to Deer Valley. No, not to ski groomers, although I hear they are nice, but to see Stein Erickson’s FIS and Olympic medals. And I got to make friends with several horses pulling sleighs for the guests at Stein Erickson lodge.

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At Deer Valley’s Stein Erickson Lodge. Katie, me, and our new friend. Photo: Garrett McCullough

We were optimistic in hauling our XC skis along, but went to Round Valley anyway for some muddy hiking instead of Nordic skiing. Then, we topped our days off at a local brew pub or the distillery. Yes, in Utah!

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Slightly gloomy late afternoon hike on a XC ski trail in Round Valley with Katie and Garrett. My Altras came in handy, although I didn’t manage to get in an actual run. Photo: Rachel McCullough
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It’s never fun when a vacation ends, but this can cheer you right up! Back in Truckee. Photo: Rachel McCullough

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