Friday, December 9, 2016


Courtesy of Heavenly Mountain via Facebook
 What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness? --John Steinbeck

The snow industry and paddling industry are strapped together like kissing cousins. For the skiers, those glistening snowy covered mountains will supply a winter full on thrills and spills, while the paddlers looks for big flows once that snow begins to melt come spring and into summer.

"My board is waxed, paddle gear packed, and jeep loaded. Bring on the snow!" exclaimed Natalie Carpenter, " Precipitation is crucial, for both job security and free time. Nearly every activity I choose to participate in is driven by precipitation."

Natalie Carpenter

Carpenter is working at Colorado's Telluride Ski Resort this winter and has been raft guide on the American River in California during the past 4 summer seasons. She loves the benefits of a snowy winter.
"A good snow-pack not only means a winter full of steady work, but it also determines what my summer is going to look like." said Carpenter, "The whole reason I decided to move out to California this past summer was due to the fact that the snow-pack was good from the previous winter. Which led to high water and incredibly fun spring runs, something the American river hasn't been so lucky to see in a couple years. It was a full seven days of work a week for four whole months!"

As December got under way many area ski resorts opened with limited lifts, runs and terrain available after roughly 50 inches of snow fell in pre-Thanksgiving storm on the Sierra Crest near Lake Tahoe jump-starting ski and snowboard season in the mountains of Central and Northern California. Skiers are crossing their fingers for more this winter, while weather forecasters remain cautious taking a wait and see approach.

"This winter could go either way." said Sacramento Fox 40 meteorologist Darren Peck, "There is no way to come up with a good long-term prediction of this winter as is the case with most winters."
The Sierra's annual snow-pack functions as a reservoir of much of the state’s water supply and while last season’s El Nino did help push snowfall levels up to normal. it failed to deliver that knock out punch to end several years of drought across the state.

"Last year, seemed to be a snowy year," said Peck, "But it was average. Last year,  came pretty much spot on the mark for 100 percent of average. Northern Sierra was a little above, Southern Sierra a little below and right here in the Central Sierra we were at 98 percent. But, this where you get into the huge issue in the world of weather.  It seemed like a big year because of our perceptions and memories of things are very bias from what our personal and nostalgic memories are of winters past. But when you're looking at the statics last year was average."

Sage Donnelly and company didn't wait for spring. Photo by Peter Holcombe.

After these early fall storms, Carpenter remains hopeful more is on the way.
"I'm still checking the weather, snow reports, and river gauges daily. Gleefully watching inches accumulate and rivers rise." said Carpenter, "Even heading into this winter season an early snow fall allows me to take advantage of the rising rivers and continue my pursuit of more challenging whitewater. More snow equals more work, more terrain to explore, and ultimately a greater ability pursue my passions, all fueled by water."

It's still to early to tell where and how much snow will fall this winter but as a French proverb suggests,  A year of snow, a year of plenty.