Saturday, April 13, 2013

Snowmobiles Rock!

Up early on our first morning in South Lake Tahoe California, we drove just a few miles to Lake Tahoe Adventures and paid money, signed forms, fitted helmets, and grabbed goggles for our snowmobile tour.
Other groups soon arrived, and before long we loaded up the bus and hit the road for Hope Valley in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, which is the biggest in the USA outside Alaska.

I only brought my phone for pics because I didn't want to deal with anything bigger--my cameras are very large and heavy. In hindsight, adding Sylvia's Sony T70 would have been the smartest move, giving me a zoom lens and more pixels for printing. Oh well...what I got certainly tells the story, and the quality is better than I expected.

The bus stopped here while the gate to Hope Valley is opened:

So far sightings of snow are confined to small patches in the shade, with almost none at lower elevations. I'm a little concerned at this point as we've been driving uphill for awhile.
Then we drove uphill a bunch more, and conditions start to look better.

We meet Danny, our instructor/guide, and learn about our machines.
He proves to be funny, quick-witted, and super nice.
All four of my girls have a crush on him already, and to be honest I'm a bit smitten myself since he's one of the few men I've ever met who might actually be cooler and more interesting than me.
After about five minutes of instruction we're ready for a quick run up the road so Danny can get a feel for our abilities and establish a logical order so we'd have the best chance of staying together without anyone running up someone else's rear.
At this point we've stopped for a quick shuffle of the lineup, a peptalk, and a little more instruction:

After running on some recently added snow and a few bare patches of asphalt the trail ahead is looking much better.

Time to open them up and start having fun!
Wish I had some action shots.

This first leg of the tour was a blur for me due to extreme concentration on mastering the snowmobile, but the beauty of our surroundings still gets through as we blast up steep mountain roads covered in snow. After I don't know how long, we finally come to the first break in a most scenic location:

Danny gets the photo credit on both of these, with style points for dropping onto his side and shooting this next one from the ground like some kind of pro-with-a-phonecam:

(I had to rotate them 180* in Photoshop cuz he had my phone upside-down--not so cool now, are ya?)

We've reached a pretty serious elevation by now, and this is the view ahead:

I made yellow snow behind the trees on the right. Been over 30 years since I've done that.

Looking back from here, this caught my eye:

Obviously the snow is freaking DEEP up here!
And these signs are 3 feet taller than the ones here in Texas.

From the next rest stop:

Sylvia and I have agreed that we want to play like this again.
Texas being what it is, probably jet-skies and ATVs are next.

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