Summertime Hikes and Burning Man Trailers

It’s August, which means it’s reasonable to start thinking about next month being September and autumn, which means it’s OK to start thinking about the following months being October and November and the early start of winter, which means it’s now legal to start thinking about skiing & riding at Sugar Bowl without feeling guilty that you really shouldn’t be thinking of such things when it’s actually still summer out there. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

While “trailer season” in Tahoe might increasingly be referring to the annual parade of tripped-out 5th wheels and pops-ups that roll through town en route to Burning Man, “trailer season” to most diehard skiers & riders means that this year’s ski movie teasers are now upon us (of which, I’m most looking forward to Jeremy Jones’ “Further”).  Ever the interesting exercise, watching mid-winter powder on an 80 degree day, it got me thinking about how we prepare in summer for the winter ahead.  Essentially, our “cross-training” and “conditioning” is really nothing more, as outdoor enthusiasts, than simply doing the summer activities we enjoy…biking up Old Highway 40, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, boating on Donner Lake, tennis at Truckee Regional Park, golf at Ponderosa, skating the park, whatever you’re into.  And while going for the simple summer hike is obviously beneficial in the conditioning department, it has immense added-value when you hit the right hike and keep your eyes wide open.    

As an example, a couple of winters ago, standing atop a rather intimidating early-season backcountry line just outside Sugar Bowl Resort, complete with narrow entrance and high consequence throughout, I couldn’t help but wonder where the sharp rocks were hiding, and perhaps more importantly, where they weren’t.  Fast forward to an early-summer hike to that same location, and viewing that same sketchy line sans snow, I now know a lot more about the layout and landscape of that particular run, that will certainly prove beneficial when standing atop that same drop-in come winter.  If it’s a low-snow day you now know where the crag field is and how to avoid it, or if it’s big snow day you might now know where the little trees are located that act as anchors for added snow stability.  Lots of variables to the whole scenario of course, but either way it’s a bit more knowledge to the mix, and that’s a positive.   So go for a hike to get those legs prepped and ready, but go for a hike on one of your favorite lines and get the added bonus of knowing what you’re actually sliding over come winter. 

And if you happen to be heading back from the desert and a week of summer camping in a trailer at Burning Man, I’d venture a guess that you could use a little hike anyway…


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