Last year, my family spent Christmas Day on the slopes of a Lake Tahoe ski resort. That was the plan this year – until we realized that there was very little snow in Lake Tahoe.
How little? According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Squaw Valley has received 1.9 inches of snow/water equivalent this season – or just 12 percent of average. In snow report terms, that meant that 15 lifts at Squaw and Alpine were expected to be open on Monday the 26th. In visuals, compare the photo below – taken on this weekend last year, when the heavens dumped snow on the Sierras – with the next photos in this post.
We were disappointed that we couldn’t ski, but you know what they say: When Mother Nature does not give you snow, go for a holiday hike.
So on Christmas Eve morning, we set off to climb the Castle Peak trail, which begins just at the Castle Peak/Boreal ski resort exit off I-80. The trail is billed as being popular year-round, though I suspect that in the winter, people normally travel in snowshoes or skis, and not water-resistant hiking boots.
We began our hike dressed as if we were going to ski – wool socks, long underwear, beanies – but quickly stripped off our layers as we hiked up a path that was part snow, part gravel.
We sat on some rocks to eat lunch, and marveled at the utter lack of snow around us.
When we reached a peak, and began hiking along the Andesite ridge, we had a great view of Tahoe, and the runs of the nearby ski resorts, which were white with man-made snow.
If you find yourself in a snow-less Lake Tahoe this winter season, I highly recommend this adventure!
What else did we do over the Christmas holiday in snow-less Lake Tahoe?
On Christmas Day, we had lunch at Pho Country in Reno, gambled at Harrah’s, and strolled Reno’s pleasant Riverwalk District. Then, we returned to the cabin, where we enjoyed a homemade Happy Hour, and created this video while cooking seafood risotto. Happy holidays!