I’ve always subscribed to the philosophy that the season to which we’re changing into always becomes my favorite. How the change itself is a reminder of renewal and potential and how it’s is the only constant we can expect through life.
Though we know that change will come, it’s equally important to live in the present and enjoy the aspects of the season in which we’re living. In steps the Sierra Nevada winter of 2019. Sure, the Sierra periodically receives a big winter – a wet year, as Mr. Steinbeck would reference – but seldom do prolonged cold fronts accompany the white blanket and drench the range and neighboring valleys with a chill befitting other regions of the country more known for polar vortices and “true winter.” I even like to jest how winter in California is really “winter light.” After all, Mammoth Lakes, CA has the same latitude as Richmond, VA, an area of the country where winter is quite mild, but what it lacks in latitude, it makes up in altitude, with much of town resting above 8000ft, and surrounded peaks nearly touching 14000ft. Elevation doesn’t mean everything, though, and as high as the Sierra residents are, they still rarely experience what others would call a proper winter.
During the dry years, the people forgot about the rich years, and when the wet years returned, they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way. - Steinbeck
Consistently cold temperatures annually evade the range, with roads nearly dry a mere day after multiple feet of snow and the relentless California sun regularly keeps any hint of frostiness in check. This season has been different, with thermometers regularly registering below zero Fahrenheit lows, and most days saw snow staying dry and fresh even in the fabled path of the sun’s rays. With the cold settling in for the long haul, it was truly wonderful to be in the grip of winter - with barely any break in the low temperatures firmly holding the region - and embrace all the aspects of what makes the season so special. All too often winter merely brushes the Sierra, giving its residents a brief, chilly kiss if any at all, then promptly moving on, gifting its brisk, crisp, clear air and dry, light, crystalline snow flakes to those lucky ones further east and north. Not 2019, however, as winter’s grasp has held on tight, to the delight of those of us who enjoy it so much.
And then there were the storms – the Washington post ran a spread showcasing the records broken from the February snow totals – a wet year indeed. It seems photos can’t do justice to how much snow has actually fallen in town and the surrounding mountains, so it’s best to just wander, to look around and absorb the spectacle that nature gave us. Even with the itch strong to explore the greater world, the rare winter in the Range of Light, together with some special people made it easy to stay put and explore the less familiar areas that seem to rarely get the snow and cold we’re getting this season. Better yet, It’s a great feeling to be present, to recognize where we are – ensconced in winter - and not to want change.
Cold temps and copious snow means skiing - a lot of it. Here’s a look at what’s happened so far…