Sunday, February 12, 2017

Dashed Plans For A Weekend In The Snow

Last Friday my family and I set off for a long weekend in the snow.  It has been several years since we last faffed about in the powdery stuff because, frankly, the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains has been dismal.  Not so this year!  The unrelenting series of rainstorms we've endured in the San Francisco Bay Area have buried the mountains north of us in much snow to the delight of west coast skiers everywhere.  It's turned into an epic winter thus far.

The following is the sort of image I had hoped to include in my post about our wintry escapades above Lake Tahoe.

Chronica Domus
I snapped this on our previous snowy car journey to Lake Tahoe
Photo: Chronica Domus

Unfortunately, this is more representative of our "weekend in the snow":

Chronica Domus
February's full moon, aptly named the 'Snow Moon', looked pretty enough but that bumper-to-bumper traffic headed into the mountains did not
Photo: Chronica Domus

I don't think we could have picked a worst time to head for the snow.  Escaping the city early on Friday afternoon was straightforward enough.  It was further upstream that things went downhill rapidly, and literally, in this case.

You see all that wonderful rain, to which I made reference in my last post, was beginning to take its toll on the soil.  The heavily saturated mountains approaching Lake Tahoe had finally given way to a mudslide.  So severe was the damage that Highway 50, upon which we happened to be traveling, was closed in both directions while we were underway.  Our long weekend getaway was dashed.

What would have ordinarily been a three hour drive to the snow turned into a nine hour fruitless slog. Subsequent mudslides had also shut down the lesser routes to Lake Tahoe ensuing in much chaos and thousands of vehicles going nowhere fast. Thus, our several attempts at alternate routes were also met with disappointment and a sea of break lights.

Cutting our losses, we crawled our way back south, and past a chain of "no vacancy" signs to secure a bed for the evening.  As you can imagine, we were not alone in our pursuit.  We finally managed to lay our heads down around 1 a.m., exhausted but extremely grateful to have escaped the madness.

As I write this post sat at my kitchen table on a cold but sunny Sunday afternoon, I wonder what would have happened had we made it to our destination in the snow before the mudslides.  Would we have been able to return home on time?  The answer, most assuredly, is no.  I have just checked the current highway conditions to discover that "due to multiple active mudslides" roads remain closed.

I am so glad to be home.


  1. Hello CD, Too bad your trip was spoiled. At least you escaped the mudslide itself, and your miserable traffic ordeal was at least on a nice, dry road. I was once stuck on the highway at Buffalo in one of its worst blizzards--the highways were shut down, but we were already on it, and somehow managed to keep inching forward.

    I love the misty quality of your first photo. The snowy road with its car tracks dividing the hills and woods has a metaphoric quality reminiscent of Robert Frost.

    1. Hello Jim,

      When I took the photo in traffic, it was indeed dry, but further along on our journey we experienced plenty of rain. I suspect the downpour contributed greatly to the mudslides.

      Your blizzard experiene reminded me of one in England during my youth. That one was so bad that the snow plough that was sent to clear the snow had tipped on its side rendering it useless for the job.

      Pleased you enjoyed my snowy photograph. I hope to add to it in a few weeks when we attempt to return to the snow, fingers crossed.

  2. Dear CD,
    Glad you and your family are safe. Aborted trips are frustrating and disappointing but another opportunity will present itself. I thoroughly sympathize. We had plans to drive to Manhattan tomorrow but two back to back blizzards here in Boston caused us to cancel. As we were knocking snow off our trees last night (to minimize breakage) in knee deep snow I remembered with nostalgia our three years in the San Joaquin Valley.
    I am sure Norton was happy to see you back. Our cats hate it when we are away.
    KL Gaylin

    1. Hell KL Gaylin,

      We shall again attempt a trip to the snow in a few weeks but I've just read that Highway 50 is "closed indefinitely". Quite shocking really but I do hope everyone who lives in the area manages to get about safely. Oh, and yes, Norton was indeed happy to see me. He sat on my lap all evening refusing to budge.

      I imagine east coasters are well used to these travel setbacks, what will all the blizzards we on the other coast read about in the news.

      You might be happy to learn that the San Joaquin Valley is benefiting from the recent rains this year. They suffered terribly during the drought.

  3. Oh. My. I've said in the past that I love your adventures, but this one---I'll pass from over here in the sunshine-of-the-moment.

    And you gave me a hitch in my pitty-pats when you said' "closed in both directions while we were underway." I had these grim visions of your being caught between two road's-out spots, and having to detour through unknown territory just to find a place to wend your way around and home, like greater-than/less-than lines with no exits.

    So sorry you encountered such difficulty, and so glad you're home. With sunshine and cocoa. Me, too, and add in the Texas Tenors, and I'm happy in the kitchen.


    1. Hello racheld,

      Yes, this one was an adventure to be sure, and one that I wish to avoid at all costs in the future. It did have a silver lining, however. We enjoyed our slumber all the more for having earned it, and a lovely cooked breakfast was a bonus in the morning (not cooked by me I might add!).

      Enjoy your Texas Tenors and cocoa.

  4. I am glad you cut your losses and went back home!!

    1. Although reluctantly at first, I'm pleased we made it home safely. Turns out the highway has finally opened today, five days later, but only down to one lane still. Small steps I guess.


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