First Blizzard of 2004

Oh man. Winter made up it's mind. We've been getting hammered and I feel worked. I spent six hours shoveling snow today. Even the 4WD vehicles with chains were having major problems.I learned a lot about the plusses and minusses of various 4WD systems today, especially this – if you don't have differential locks, 4WD isn't worth all that much when the going gets tough. In fact, in that case, 4WD with chains on two wheels actually seems worse than FWD with chains on boht drive wheels. But I digress.

There have been so many snowy days it's amazing. I feel like I've been spending more time shoveling and chopping wood than pretty much anything else. We got hammered on the 24th and 25th with a foot or two depending on the elevation. Theresa and I went for a great ski tour – not very steep, but steep enough to have a great ski with powder roiling around my waist. With tales of epic powder, I enticed Hans out for a tour two days later, but the snow had settled a lot and had gotten really heavy. We could barely make any turns or we would stop. I also broke my brand new skins, so that was a bummer. Black Diamond says they'll replace them for free though, so in two more weeks I should have brand new brand new skins.

Skating on Glacier Point Road, 15 mins from homeAnyway, two days after that, Theresa came home with tales fo epic powder at Badger. Hans, Theresa and I got up early to skin up and get in a few runs before it got groomed. It turned out that the snow was full-on Sierra cement and we could barely move in it. When Theresa went to report for work, it turned out that the area was closed – the roads were closed in all directions and the only employees who were there were the ones who had gotten stranded and spent the night. Almost no one lives as close as we do. Anyway, they told her to go home and come back at noon.

Sneaky us though. The road was only open to employees before noon, so Jacki drove, Theresa rode shotgun as our pass to get on the road, and Mike A., Dan and I climbed in the back and we headed up to go skate skiing. Theresa only had about 40 minutes at that point before work. The rest of us did longer tours. I figure I went about 10 miles, maybe a little more. I just have to double that and I'll be able to go to end of the road and back.

On the 31st, Theresa got her first private lesson request (and her first tip as a ski instructor), so she was pretty happy. The rest of us went out to dinner to celebrate Jacki's 40th. Dick was prompting us all with philosophical end-of-the-year questions and getting me, Dan, Mike L. and Scott going on a really interesting discussion. We all went back to the house around 6:30 and spent the evening there. Being the wild partier that I am, it was one of the nicest New Year's parties I remember. Really enjoyed it.

Then we woke up to the first blizzard of 2004. I spent pretty much the whole day shoveling. I feel way more tired than the day Theresa and I climbed the Regular Northwest Face on Half Dome. It remains to be seen whether or not we'll get the cars out tomorrow. As I write this, Hwy 41 is closed in both direction and Hans and Mike L. are stuck down in the Valley and can't get home (they escorted Jacki's sisters beyond the chain controls, but in the meantime the roads closed). Hwy 120 is closed and even the Valley floor and Hwy 140 have chain restrictions in effect. On our road they simply gave up on keeping two lanes clear and simply plowed out a single lane. We have at least two, probably 3 feet of snow on the porch. We wanted a snowy winter and so far it's delivering.