INTERSTATE 80 WINTER ROAD TRIP January 15, 2005
Eager to see the historic snowfall levels, and simply not real enamoured of repeating the same solo ski tour I've been doing, I left home in late morning to do a shopping trip to Reno, NV, and to photograph the snow.
Traffic was mildly heavy till past Auburn, CA, and many travelers were on the highway. Out of the Valley fog, I came into high overcast which does well for some photographic lighting. There was a bit of hazy sun and blue sky. I would normally do a short ski tour, but hope to do that later.
I made photo stops at Nyack, Yuba Gap, and Soda Springs Exits. Yawn. I have seen far more snow in other years. Disappointed, I motored on, stopping at the Donner Summit rest area, then the Donner Lake vista point. Well, I wasn't spending much. With one final stop to view the snow clad hills, west of Reno, I came to my favorite outdoor clothing store, off West Fourth.
I found two pairs of organic cotton pants, just my size. Taking them immediately, I noted that the selection was a bit more limited for myself. Lots of kids and womens wear, all at highly discounted prices. I asked about the customer parking.
Then going up the Tom Cooke Trail across the Truckee River pedestrian bridge, this was definitely the most snow I have ever seen here! A good track made by numerous snow hikers went up the hill. With the snowy, set, footprints in the hard and slippery snow, I summited the small hill above the area, here, in ten minutes. I shot my own photo (above) a few times, to get it right. A large, dry, rock boulder allows for setting down my camera to use the self-timer.
Meeting a lightly clad runner, I slid and stepped down the snow trail, and returned to my car. Not in the mood to contend with the Reno casino holiday crowds, I chose to head back for home. Being Saturday, traffic, westbound, was fairly light. The ski resorts would be emptying, but I enjoyed the drive home. Making a quick stop to check out the Stevens Trail parking, yes, the start of the trail was red mud, but not real churned up.
A week earlier, I had made another short drive up to see the snow, then, too. Low visibility prevented any great photos, but I had gotten a rainbow and nice sunset on my way home. I hoped for something similar, this day, but the high overcast only allowed for cloud patterns to be recorded.
The temperatures were pretty mild, and I wore my usual three layers for the snow trail hike. No big winds, and certainly no bugs.
I hiked maybe a half mile total, with a few hundred feet gain. I used about a half tank of fuel, with prices now down to 1.699/gal., here, locally. I shot 125 images, with no movie clips. I spent $10 for fuel, and a few dollars for sodas to use a restroom. My two new pants will run a bit over $60 total, with perhaps $10 more for hemming (they don't come in length sizes), later. What I do for better, environmentally-friendly, purchases!
The Interstate road conditions were fine, with absolutely no ice or slush, this day of Saturday the 15th. There are some wet spots to throw up water and dirt on your car, so I'd advise having some water along to rinse off your windshield. Traffic moved along at high speed, with many passing, me doing the 65 mph limit.
A small number of people were busy enjoying the various snow play areas, and I saw only a few backcountry adventurers at Castle Peak Exit, with it's PCT access. Forecasts show mostly good, sunny, weather, coming, the rest of the week. I plan to be up, again, for my standard, solo ski tour, and photo-drive to Pyramid Lake.
Some cars had skidded off the road, them partially buried by the last snow. Do not speed when it is snowing, and get chains, if necessary, beforehand--they are pretty expensive to buy from what few businesses carry them for the unprepared!
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