Postcard from South Lake Tahoe

Postcard from South Lake Tahoe
a postcard (By: Hedy Zhou)

I just went on my first ski trip of the season in South Lake Tahoe and I had a really good time. My sister and I were still working when we went in mid-December, so we skied as much as we could during the day and worked between the afternoon and evening. We also stayed at The Elet Hotel, which was a convenient couple miles away from the Heavenly Ski Resort. Our trip was about 5 days long (including 2 travel days) and we chose to go between weekends to try to avoid the crowds. (Weekend crowds, in my opinion, are truly not worth suffering through.) This wasn’t a crazy sister trip and I quite enjoyed it being on the more relaxed side. Here’s a quick run down of some of the things I did.

Me skiing at Heavenly Ski Resort
Me skiing at Heavenly

Skiing: I skied at Heavenly and used my new skis for the first time. My skis were wider and taller than what I was used to so I focused on familiarizing myself with them on this trip. First runs of the season were honestly a bit painful. I slowly got more used to the skis and began carving with them which was really fun. I stuck to mostly groomed trails and eventually went on a couple mogul runs.

I was a bit bummed to find that a lot of the snow had already crusted over, especially in the areas with trees. The resort was a bit difficult to navigate as well because it was divided between California and Nevada. (I had to take at least 5 different lifts to get from the bottom of the Nevada side to the bottom to the California side.) There were also a lot more people skiing and fewer large indoor eating areas at Heavenly than I expected. These observations made me realize that I was spoiled by the great conditions at Winter Park when I used to work there.

The view at the top of Heavenly Ski Resort was incredible though. The blue lake with the tall snow capped mountains in the background was extremely picturesque. I also had a lot of interesting conversations with other solo snowboarders and skiers. Most of them were older and wiser than me, and gave random pieces of advice on the lift. For example: ‘You’re still young, so stretch and do strength training so that you don’t have joint issues like me later on in life.’ or ‘You should check out Snowbird and Alta in Utah. They have the best snow.’

The skiing I experienced was a good start to the season, but the let down I experienced with Heavenly as a ski resort has made me reflect on the kind of access I want to have to better ski resorts while I’m still very interested in continuing this sport.

Me at Lakeside Beach being entertained by the loud ducks
Me at Lakeside Beach being entertained by the loud ducks

Lakeside Beach: On our third day of skiing, my left ankle was hurting a lot in my ski boot. I tried pushing through the pain but I ended up tapping out after an hour. (I might need to get my boots custom fitted but I also may just be getting used to them.) We went back to the hotel and after we relaxed and watched an episode of “Firefly Lane” on Netflix, we headed to the beach.

It was about a half mile walk. The beach had a thick layer of snow and people were building snowmen and playing with their kids. There were some ducks swimming along the shore too. All I could think about was Taylor Swift’s new song, “Snow On The Beach.”

And as we were leaving the beach, a horse drawn sleigh filled with families passed by us. I’m always not sure how to feel when I see animals being put to work like that. In an ideal world, I hope the animals are being treated well, and if that’s the case, I’d be thrilled about whatever it is they’re doing. But if they aren’t being treated well, then even something as festive as a holiday sleigh ride feels ethically wrong.

Dinner at Base Camp Pizza
Dinner at Base Camp Pizza

Heavenly Village: My sister and I also explored the different shops at Heavenly Village a couple times. There were a lot of souvenir shops that sold shirts, magnets, stickers, mugs, and more. We also checked stores that specialized in alpaca products, maps, socks, and sodas. It was nice to see a good number of stores selling work by local artists too.

The village was quite lively on its own but the constant live music definitely added to the holiday spirit. There would usually be a musician at the front of the village and another sometimes further in the center. I was a huge fan of it all.

On my birthday, we ate at a restaurant called Base Camp Pizza. (My only request was that we find some good mac & cheese.) We ordered calamari (10/10), Base Camp pizza (8/10), Thai Chicken Curry pizza (7/10), and Gouda Mac & Cheese with Bacon (10/10). The mac & cheese at this restaurant was probably the best I had ever had. It was creamy, rich, and had a smoky taste from the bacon. The service was really fast and the ambience was very friendly.

This was a solid first ski trip and I’m really looking forward to getting back on the mountain again.