To celebrate our first New Years as a married couple, Sarah & I decided to head to the cabin and enjoy a few quiet days by ourselves.
We arrived mid-day on Dec 30, stocked up on food & drink, and had an early evening. On New Year’s Eve, we headed up the pass to Bear Valley XC for our first cross-country skiing trip of the season.
Bear Valley XC Meadow Trail
I re-acquainted myself with my skis quickly, and Sarah & I enjoyed an hour or so of cruising the flat trails before splitting up, she to continue on the flats, and me to enjoy my favorite trail at Bear Valley XC, the Bjornloppet Trail, which is almost as much fun to say as it is to ski.
The climb to the top of the ridge went smoothly, the sticky snow making for an easy ascent, at least compared to icy snow, and I managed to herringbone my way up without having to resort to the dreaded side-stepping.
Warming Hut at the top of the Bjornloppet Trail
I arrived at the Warming Hut at the end of the trail after perhaps 20 minutes, pleased to find myself alone at it, but a little disappointed that they did not have the warm cider they have had in the past, just cold water.
Window view from Bjornloppet warming hut
I sat and enjoyed the views and coziness for a few minutes, then headed back to rendezvous with Sarah.
The return on the Bjornloppet was lovely as always, under a deep blue Sierran sky, and again, with nearly nobody around me.
Aspens on the Bjornloppet Trail
After meandering around some aspens, the trail heads downhill in earnest.
Thankfully I stayed upright on the descent (not a given!), and soon met up with Sarah at the Meadow Cafe, and we decided to call it a day, not wanting to overdo it our first time out for the season.
As I always say after a nice day XC skiing, “we really should do this more than once a season!”
Back at the cabin we relaxed, made burgers, then toasted in the New Year (east coast time – it’s too hard to stay up until Midnight these days!).
On New Year’s Day we tidied up the cabin, winterized it, and headed homeward, stopping for a detour at nearby Calaveras Big Trees State Park. It was surprisingly full as we set out on the North Grove Trail, the only one availble for hiking in the winter.
The walk was beautiful, as it is any time of year, although the throngs of people and children screaming with delight at the snow did not make for the world’s most peaceful walk.
The trail had only a foot or so of snow on it, heavily packed down by myriad feet, and it was slippery.
The clear skies brought out the ruddy hues of the sequoias’ bark, whose richness contrasted vividly with the white snow and black, bare branches of the Dogwoods.
We heard the distinct “beep beep beep” of a nearby nuthatch, but saw nothing, unsurprisingly, given the time of year.
Another pair of twins
Shadow and light created a pleasing dappled effect on many of the huge trees’ trunks, and I semi-regretted leaving my SLR in the car.
About an hour after we’d started, we wound up back at the trailhead, and reluctantly drove back to San Francisco, marvelling at the near-total lack of traffic on the road.
Me & a tree
XC skiing and a walk in a sequoia forest – the perfect way to bid farewell to 2008, and to welcome in the near year!
Happy 2009 everyone!
May your year be filled with natural wonder!