Dylan Silver
Tahoe Daily Tribune

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January 29, 2012
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Tahoe cross-country skiers, snowmobilers and#8211; finally and#8211; get season started

LAKE TAHOE — The scraping sounds of skis on ice echoed through the woods of Spooner Summit Friday. With the Spooner Lake Cross-Country Ski Area just opened, a handful of cross-country skiers cruised the rock-hard trails.

“Be careful out there,” said Max Jones, owner and operator cautioned the skiers as they came in to buy trail passes. “It's going to be icy.”

The recent snow has allowed Spooner Lake and other snow-based recreation firms to at least get started. But without snow in the forecast Jones wonders how long they can sustain.

“We got a decent amount of snow, but now we've got four days of 50-degree weather,” Jones said. “There's a possibility with two warm days we'll have to shut down again Monday. It's kind of disheartening.”

Nonetheless, the cross-country skiers that were out there, seemed to be enjoying themselves. Toni and Ken Cannon came over from Minden for a day on the trail. They've had season passes to Spooner Lake for the last 15 years. This is the latest season they've seen, Toni Cannon said with a smile on her face.

“We're thrilled to be up here,” she said. “Our philosophy is anything is better than nothing.”

Mountain bikers were traversing the Flume Trail and other trails in the area as late as eight days ago, Jones said. He even saw some cyclists riding across the ice on Marlett Lake.

For skiers, the ice can be dangerous or can block trails all together. And with warm days and cold nights, the problem is only growing.

“This is the most obnoxious grooming I've come across in a while,” Jones said.

For snowmobilers, the first snow of the season offers a chance to get out and ride, but with shallow coverage conditions can be dangerous.

“I went out Tuesday to Blue Lakes,” said South Lake Tahoe snowmobiler and member of Tahoe Sierra Snowmobile Club Hanna Bernard. “The trail was nice and groomed. There's more snow than you'd think. You just have to be careful where you go.”

Several snowmobile businesses are kicking off their season this weekend. Out at Lake Tahoe Golf Course, Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours owner John Shearer is opening up the track. Zephyr Cove Snowmobile Center will start tours Saturday. And Lake Tahoe Adventures started tours daily last week.

But it's unclear how long the riding can last with the snow that's on the ground.

“We're going to go weekend to weekend at this point,” Shearer said.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jan 29, 2012 03:44PM Published Jan 29, 2012 03:42PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.