Good time for skiing – and hiking | NevadaAppeal.com
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Good time for skiing – and hiking

Nevada Appeal Staff Reports

Sam Bauman

Last weekend was a chance to ski and hike, starting out Friday at Sierra-at-Tahoe where the snow was excellent and the crowds modest. A quick run down the Lower Main to warm up and then to the West Bowl for Dogwood, Clipper, Horsetail, Bashful, Pyramid and Powderhorn runs. No line at the West Bowl Express so it was possible to get in a daily quota of runs in a couple of hours. A fine half-way of skiing.

The nice thing about living in the Tahoe area is the opportunity to combine skiing with hiking in the Bay Area. Saturday we decided to forego the usual Santa Clara Mountains for the West Bay shoreline.

The Cooley Landing Salt Pond, close to the Dumbarton Bridge, is a fascinating example of reclaiming the abuse of the area from years gone by. Abut 50 years ago a levee was built around a salt marsh to allow for salt harvesting. Cooley Landing, where bay ships called to pick up passengers and freight, was isolated. The port, complete with a giant crane is still there but off limits.

The area became a dumping ground for torn up pavements and old building parts. With no tidal flows of note, the birds moved on to elsewhere. But in 1983 salt production was ended. The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District purchased the area. Since then a company named Aventis has been working to restore the original salt marsh until now more than 150 acres have been returned to a marsh condition.

As the slough channels rebuilt themselves with the help of the tides, the birds have returned to what is now called Ravenwood Open Space Preserve. A 3-mile hike takes one from the Bay Road parking area to an observation point 50 yards from the Bay.

Along the way there are hundreds of birds of every size and shape, from avocets to herons to the California Clapper Rail. Also returning is the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse, although we didn’t see one. Both depend on the pickleweed for survival, expected to return to the marsh.

This is not a popular hiking route, although bikers seem to love it. But it was a fine chance to enjoy the seashore and to watch birds in all their feathered plumage.

Then back to the Sierra and an afternoon at Heavenly, where the slopes were not as crowded as could be expected on a holiday weekend. More excellent snow, well-groomed and fast. The run from the top of Olympic to Boulder Lodge was all-out except for the Boulder run at the bottom.

Kirkwood is tossing its annual media outing this weekend so I’ll be able to make my first visit of the season. Kirkwood has become pretty toney these days, what with the condos and new bar, ice skating and village.

But it remains one of the best snowsporting venues in the Sierra Nevada, as locals long knew. Its snow is always superior due to an odd geographical local that somehow traps snow other resorts miss. Only problem is that it is often cut off from Carson City by avalanches.

But the runs more than make up for the travel problems. The West Wall is a fine run to see if the knees still work, the Back Bowl offers long, long runs of varying steepness and snow conditions. The old Sentinel Bowl from the Cornice chair after a hike is worth the plunge. Ad if you feel like a little hike you can ski away from the trails to miles of untouched powder from the Sentinel Bowl. I’m looking forward to Kirkwood.

•This Valentine’s Day Squaw Valley USA hosts its second annual “Where’s the Love?” Scavenger Hunt on Saturday, Feb.14. Squaw Valley is also offering a special Valentine’s Dinner and Ice Skate Package on Friday and Saturday night, Feb. 13 and 14 at High Camp.

The ‘Where’s The Love?” Scavenger Hunt offers guests the chance to find the love on the mountain and be rewarded with discounts on food and lift tickets. Squaw Valley’s cupids will strategically place 20 magnetic hearts at various locations around the resort. All guests need to do is find them. Guests can bring the hearts to High Camp’s Terrace Deli, Poolside Café or Alexander’s Cafe and exchange them for appetizers or entrees and coupons for discounts on lift tickets. Reservations can be made by calling (530) 581-7278.

Impressive rail skills will all be on display at Squaw Valley USA’s Mainline Terrain Park this season during the new Squaw Valley Jib & Jam Series. A mix of local pros and new talent are expected to show for both a Superpipe Competition and Slopestyle event to be held on separate weekends. Winners of both events qualify for the series finals April 8-10.

The first event is Sunday Feb. 8 with registration and practice on Saturday. Competitors will take to Squaw Valley USA’s 575-foot Superpipe. Competitors are judged on style, execution and originality, in ski and snowboard categories for both men and women.

The Jib & Jam Series is open to skiers and snowboarders, men and women, pros and amateurs and each event is limited to 50 skiers and 50 snowboarders (50 men and women, first come first entered). Registration for each event is $20 if pre-registered on Saturday or $25 on Sunday (participants do not need to participate in the practice on Saturday in order to compete on Sunday). A schedule of Jib & Jam events is available online at squaw.com or by calling (530) 583-6985.

Sam Bauman is the Nevada Appeal Diversions Editor. Contact him at sbauman@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1236.