February 2, 2010
Village at Northstar Gondola
By: Reggie Yemma
After braving the rain all week in San Francisco, my boyfriend, a friend, and I decided that a trip up to Lake Tahoe for the weekend would be a must—especially considering that the area had received 79” of snow in the last five days that we had been soaked in the rain. We left the city before dawn Saturday morning and made it to the mountain in time to ski some fresh powder in the first sunshine Tahoe had seen in a week.
The village area of Northstar Resort (www.northstarattahoe.com) was buzzing with live acoustic band playing on a stage over looking happy faces ice-skating, people pulling their ski gear and children in Northstar-provided wagons to their various destinations, and people making s’mores and eating pizza from “Rubicon Pizza,” around the many different fire pits stationed around the skating rink. We rented our skis at the “Demo Center,” grabbed a slice of pizza ourselves, and hit the slopes.
There are great options for skiers of all levels at Northstar. In fact, within the last couple of years, the “Big Easy,” which is the area where beginners can learn to ski through Northstar’s ski school, has doubled in size in order to accommodate twice as many people in taking ski lessons. Because we were looking for something more challenging, we headed to “The Backside” and “Lookout Mountain,” where we found all the powder, glades, and bumps that we could hope for. We also got quite a bit of solitude, finding ourselves more often than not alone in the quiet of the snowy woods, among more birds than people. This was very nice considering that this weekend was the second busiest weekend at Northstar this season—second only to the holidays.
After 4 O’clock when the lifts began to close, we headed back to the village area and picked up our key to our hotel room at “The Village,” where we would be spending the night. Our room was perfect—walking distance to the slopes and the most comfortable beds I have laid on in quite some time. I could have fallen asleep right then after our long drive from the city and skiing hard all afternoon. But, instead we headed over to “ Mikuni Sushi,” an award-winning sushi restaurant in the village, to meet up with Jessica VanPernis, director of communications for the resort, for a drinks.
She filled us in on the significant amount of Green initiatives Northstar Resort has been working on over the last year in order to make their resort more environmentally friendly and harmonious with the beautiful natural habitats surrounding them. One initiative includes new strategies for slope development, so as not to disrupt the soil and vegetation lying beneath. Another is a habitat management plan, in which the resort has been doing extensive research on where wildlife habitats are, and taking measures to protect them. The Northstar website also has a “green tip of the month” section, where simple tips are displayed, encouraging people to take small steps in being more sustainable.
We also learned about other fun activities that are available for families in case someone didn’t feel like skiing for some of the day. In the village there are experiential stores where can make their own candles, teddy bears, and jewelry. There is also ice-skating, and a tubing hill that people love to hit at any time of day. By 8 o’clock, I was ready for bed, so that I could be well rested for our next day of powder and trees—I was planning to carry some snacks in my backpack, and not stop from 9-4!
This is exactly what we did. We did have to brave some lift-lines, considering it was the third busiest day of the year. However, the lift attendants handled the mobs beautifully and we got plenty of long runs through extremely deep snow on all ends of the backside. Lookout Mountain area was also very exciting. We found some untouched areas where we could glide through the powder, celebrating the greatness of being outside and enjoying the snow.
We kept going down and back up right until the last lift closed, only stopping a couple of times to fill up our water bottles. Then, after skiing our hearts out all day, and before heading back to the city, we figured it was the perfect time to try out the Northstar s’mores kit, available at outdoor bars around the village area. The marshmallows were handcrafted and vanilla flavor. We sat around a fire and roasted our marshmallows, melted our chocolate and stuck them between homemade grahams. It was the best s’more I’ve ever had. Then we packed up the car and hit the road back to the city, feeling exhilarated and relaxed from such a fun weekend in the Sierras.
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