It is transition time up on the summit. It is the time between winter and summer (there isn’t really much of a spring up here). The ski resorts are closing, even with plenty of snow still on the ground. Normally, this time goes from the end of April to the middle of June, but in this extraordinary year it will probably stretch into July. During this time it is all about water. As the snow melts the springs, creeks, rivers and lakes fill to the brim with snow melt as it moves downhill from the summit to supply water to Northern California.The landscape alternates between pooling water, disappearing snow and expanding areas of mud, all of which can make for challenging conditions to get out and enjoy the summit.
It is also a time for the transition of activities. Winter sports come to an end with the melting snow and it is time to break out the hiking boots, mountain bikes, canoes and kayaks. However, as regulars to the area know, you really have to wait out the transition time to start most of those activities. Hiking and biking trails serve as great channels for draining snowmelt as it heads downhill from the summit, and many are impassable due to the water, snow and mud. Lakes remain frozen preventing their use for activities requiring the liquid state. And so it is a quiet time on the summit as most visitors from the lowlands remain at home to enjoy their local springtime weather.
All is not lost however. The roads are clear and dry and it is a good time to break out the road bike, pump up the tires, and give those legs a workout riding on Old Highway 40. Or for those foot pounders out there, put on the running shoes and jog around Serene Lakes (just be careful where the road was damaged during the winter). And for those hardy souls that don’t need a groomed trail, there is still plenty of snow to cross country ski on; one of the benefits in a big snow year like this one. Confidentially, just between you and me, this is one of our favorite times to ski out to Mariah Point with the girls. The view out there can be crystal clear unlike the hazier days of summer.
For us personally, the transition time is a great time on the summit. The area is quiet with all the ski resort traffic and the din of snow plows and blowers gone. The sun is out and the air is crisp and the visibility unhampered by storm clouds and falling snow. And the gentle sound of flowing water is present everywhere. It is a great time to warm up after a long cold winter, get all the summer gear back in shape, rest up from all the skiing, and plan all the new activities for the coming summer that I hope to write about in this blog.