Snowless Northstar Still A Good Time
This winter break, on the weekend after New Year’s, my family and I took a short trip up to my grandparents’ cabin at Northstar in Tahoe. The familiar drive up took us through Truckee, a small town located just north of the Northstar Resort off Highway 80. Founded in the mid-1800’s as a stopping point for travelers crossing the Sierra Nevada, the town has maintained its rugged Western image with weathered frontier-style buildings.
About fifteen minutes later, we reached the Northstar Resort. Our cabin is located in the suburbs that surround the resort. The endless rows of wooden cabins gives the neighborhood a very cozy feeling. Unfortunately, the ground, usually white at that time of year, was still brown due to the lack of snow in the Sierra Nevada.
On the other hand, the bare ground allowed my family and I to go on a hike that would have been exhausting had their been three feet of snow in the mountains. Walking through the forest with the fresh smell of pine trees and that familiar crispness in the air kept the Winter Tahoe ambiance alive. The relaxing walk took us through the wooded area surrounding the cabins, up and down through the mountains, spitting is back out onto the road about five minutes away from our final destination and the central hub of activity in Northstar: the main village.
Lying in the center of cabins and at the bottom of the slopes, the main village could be considered a small town. It features a luxurious hotel, numerous clothing stores, including The North Face, Burton, Patagonia, and Oakley, a Starbucks, numerous restaurants, an ice skating rink, a bungee trampoline, and my personal favorite, a Belgian waffle cart. This newly developed miniature city is without a doubt the social center of the resort. Skiers and boarders alike flock from off the slope to kick their skis and boards off and relax with a hot cup of coffee by the rink.
Not that there was much skiing to be had with the current drought of snowfall that Tahoe is experiencing. With only 27 runs open out of the 97 total on the mountain, it seemed ski season is coming late this year, if it comes at all. Needless to say, skiing was not the highlight of this trip, as only blue and green runs were open, not the challenging black diamonds for which I have a particular passion.
Still, Northstar must receive some credit for being open at the present moment. It has the most snow-making machines of any resort in Tahoe, and as a result, has been able to open up its lifts while many other resorts have been forced to remain closed for the time being. The best part of the limited slopes was definitely the terrain park, which is famous at Northstar. It provided plenty of laughs as my family attempted to land on both their skis from the many jumps and rails.
The best parts of the trip were relaxing by the ice skating rink with a Belgian waffle in one hand and hot cocoa in the other, hiking through the beautiful Tahoe woods, being at the house where I grew up skiing, watching football, and playing cards and liars dice with my family. Though the usual fun and excitement of flying down the mountain was hampered by the lack of snow, we still had a great time. In the end, I’d wait until the snowfall comes in, but a trip up to Northstar is definitely worth the drive.
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