Sierra spring? |

Sierra spring?

Gregory Crofton

I dragged and slid my feet as I walked to the laundry room at the trailer park where I live. There was fresh powder on the driveway and I wanted to enjoy it even without skis.

I know spring is inching it’s way here, but I love to see big snowflakes float down among the pines of South Lake Tahoe. Saturday night, when a foot of snow came down on my neighborhood, it was a perfect time to stop and enjoy the quiet beauty of a Sierra snowstorm.

Sadly, with every boat-polishing photo published in the Tahoe Daily Tribune, it’s inevitable my mind will warm to the idea of summer in the mountains. A time when it rains at most once a month and every other day you wake up to a deep blue sky and 80 degrees.

High-strength sunblock (because I have very white, Irish skin), rock-strewn beaches and infrequent skinny dippers in aqua East Shore water are memories from last summer.

However, as last week demonstrated, it can be warm one day and dump snow the next.

Two months ago I found out first hand how unpredictable weather in this area can be. As I drove up Emerald Bay Road just outside Tahoe City, it was partly sunny when I witnessed storm clouds roll out onto the lake. My jaw dropped at the sight.

By the time I got near Truckee, the wheels of my rented Dodge Neon (my Toyota truck had seized coming back from Kirkwood) began to squirm in two inches of snow. I decided to scrap my planned trip to Sugar Bowl and head back home through Crystal Bay.

Examining Lake Tahoe, the lake of the sky, is a good way to gauge the weather. Everyday driving to work I take a second to study it.

Days when the sun is out strongly you can see its cold water is clear hundreds of feet out. On a stormy day, its often slate-colored and menacing. Saturday morning, after the snow had stopped, the water was navy blue, its color intensified by mounds of snow that caked everything in sight.

These days, after the snow quickly melts away, the lake is telling me summer is coming. Buoys that mark swimming sections are calling my name.

But for right now we’re in the midst of a shoulder-season. No matter how inviting the lake looks, if I were to dive into it, I would freeze to death.

I’ll probably have to wait until June to go in the water. By then most of the mountain snow will have melted and flowed down into lake, and the sun will have had time to warm it up.

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