My Recent-ish Favorite Outdoor Films

The organization I work for is hosting the 4th Annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival Truckee in a couple of weeks. I’ve been involved with WSFF since I moved to Tahoe back in 2010, and this year will be my 9th year helping to run an on tour venue. The Film Festival is one of my favorite events I get to do each year, and one of the main reasons why is that I get an excuse to watch a bunch of awesome outdoor films. Over the years, there’s been an increase of outdoor films focused on more diverse individuals. I love this! There are so many valuable stories that are missed when outdoor and adventure films only focus on super extreme white guys.

In celebration of the increasing diversity of outdoor films and because I’m so excited about our Film Festival (happening Friday April 19th at the Community Arts Center in Historic Downtown Truckee – tickets still available – click here!), I’m going to share some of my favorite outdoor films from the past few years.

Follow Through WSFF
Photo via Wild & Scenic Film Festival

1. Follow Through
People have opinions about skier Caroline Gleich: Inspirational. Gumby. Social media star. Role model. Model masquerading as a mountaineer. At sixteen, she stumbled upon a copy of the cult classic guidebook The Chuting Gallery. Irreverent and wonderfully arbitrary, the guidebook lays out a set of 90 ski mountaineering lines across Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. They were difficult and dangerous. When she first said out loud she wanted to ski them, she was met with laughter. “Maybe it was because I was five feet tall, or I was a little blonde girl, but I remember that clearly — and it didn’t feel good” says Gleich. After a decade building her skills, Gleich set out to complete her vision and become the skier she dreamt of being. “Follow Through” is a story of loss, belonging and desire for respect. In this age of hyperconnectivity, which voices do we choose to hear and which do we ignore?

2. The Mirnavator
Ultra-runners overcome obstacles on every trail. In this film, Force of Nature Mirna Valerio overcomes the negative voices that don’t believe she belongs in the sport.

Photo via Outside Online
Photo via Outside Online

3. Sacred Strides
Bears Ears National Monument is one of the most talked-about public lands under threat, though the dialogue often glosses over how sacred it is to many Native Americans. In March 2018, a group of tribes put their differences aside and came together to run 800 miles to Bears Ears – and to send a message of unity. The Sacred Strides for Healing Prayer Run wove from tribal homelands across the Southwest to Bears Ears. Watch to meet the people who are participating in the public lands conversation with their feet and learn about why this land is so important to them.

4. Super Stoked Surf Mamas of Pleasure Point
Through surfing and a love for the ocean, five women become friends. So when they all become pregnant around the same time, it is natural that the women turn to each other for support and encouragement. Ignoring people who tell them to stop surfing while pregnant, the women decide instead to listen to their own bodies and continue doing what they love — just with some extra precautions and modifications. The women in the film discuss the challenges they face as their bellies grow bigger and their wetsuits no longer fit, but also the joy of being in the water with their unborn child inside them experiencing the ocean together as one.

Photo via Snowbrains
Photo via Snowbrains

5. Evolution of Dreams
What happens when the passion for your dreams fades? Do you just stop? Or do you search for what’s missing and uncover new dreams and goals? Eva and Jackie’s journeys have taken them from regulated ski courses to big mountain skiing which allowed them more freedom. Throughout that journey, they’ve discovered another aspect of skiing, ski mountaineering. In this new discipline, they have to tackle new challenges and conquer new fears. It’s their evolution of dreams.

6. RJ Ripper
Rajesh Magar has been obsessed with bikes since he was a small child growing up in Kathmandu, Nepal. When the other kids were studying, he’d be dreaming about, designing and drawing bikes. As the son of a construction worker and housemaid, however, a bike wasn’t easy to come by. Undeterred, he built one, a clunky Frankenstein, but a mountain bike nonetheless. He started racing, and his drive and raw talent got noticed, leading to a job as a mountain bike guide and a path to professional racing. Today, Nepal’s National Champion is living proof that it pays to stick to your passion, no matter how implausible it seems.

7. Brotherhood of Skiing
Since 1973, the National Brotherhood of Skiers has overcome barriers by bringing soul and smiles to the mountain. Formed during the height of the black power movement, the organization is dedicated to creating a welcoming space for people of color on the slopes and supporting black youth in snowsports. Today, the NBS hosts the largest gathering of black skiers in the United States and represents 53 ski clubs with over 3,000 members across the country.

Photo via Wild & Scenic Film Festival

8. Where the Wild Things Play
Friday night at the local watering hole and … where the ladies at? Answer: BASE jumping from high desert cliffs, performing tricks on slacklines, climbing granite routes, shredding singletrack, skiing backcountry lines and generally leaving you fellas behind. This rowdy ode to female athletes by Krystle Wright leaves no doubt about the state of women in today’s outdoor world: badass.

9. SHIFT
SHIFT is a half-hour documentary about the indigenous youth from Carcross, Yukon who have spent the past 10 years converting traditional trails around their town in to a world-class mountain biking destination — and transforming their community and themselves along the way.

Photo via Inspire Film Festival
Photo via Inspire Film Festival

10. For the Love of Mary
The first time 97-year-old runner George Etzweiler completed the race up the northeast’s tallest peak, Mount Washington, he was 69 years old. Despite having a pacemaker, the State College, Pennsylvania resident continues to compete in the grueling 7.6-mile race up nearly 4,700 feet of paved road, breaking his own record each year for oldest finisher. In addition to his ancient, lucky, green running shorts, Etzweiler carries something else special with him: The memory of his late wife of 68 years, Mary.

Spring Mountain Biking in the Sierra

It’s definitely the shoulder season here in Truckee. The sky is gray, the snow piles are dirty, and I am ready for summer! Unfortunately, we have a ways to go, and I need to find ways to enjoy the spring. Luckily, spring means the start of mountain biking season here in the Sierra. Spring riding is a little different than biking in the summer or the fall, but it can be a bunch of sloppy fun.

Spring Mountain Biking // tahoefabulous.com

Trails
Depending on how much snow we get in the winter, the lower trails in Truckee and Tahoe start melting out in March and April. The earliest rideable trails in Truckee are usually Emigrant, Jackass, and Elizabethtown Meadows. In South Lake Tahoe, Powerlines, Railroad and Lower Corral in the Corral Trail Network are among the first to be rideable.

In a winter like this, the Tahoe and Truckee trails might not be rideable until summer. In that case, I drop down into the foothills to ride. My favorite spring foothills trails are Hoot Trail in Nevada City and Foresthill Divide and the Culvert/Confluence Loop in Auburn.

Trail Conditions
The biggest question about spring mountain biking is – can you ride your mountain bike when it’s been wet and raining? The answer – it depends! There are regions where the very idea of riding in the wet makes responsible mountain bikers recoil in horror and others where, if you didn’t ride in the wet, you would never ride at all.

If a trail is well designed and is mainly composed of sandy and rocky soil and drains well, it is probably safe to ride when it’s been raining. If a trail has clay type soil and the water tends to puddle in the flat spots and/or create erosion ruts, it’s not safe to ride. If you’re riding a trail and leaving tire tracks for long stretches, you shouldn’t be riding. It sucks, but if the spring conditions are such that you are damaging the trail, you should bail on the ride.

Riding on wet trails increases erosion ruts, damages jumps, berms and other features, and contributes to trail widening and reroutes. When you’re unsure if a trail is rideable due to conditions, do some research ahead of driving out to the trail. Local trail groups, like TAMBA in Tahoe or BONC in Nevada City often have up to date trail conditions reports on their websites. Regional facebook groups, like Tahoe Mountain Biking Meetup, are another great source for finding trails that are rideable. Finally, the location specific forums on websites like MTBR often have the most up to date trail data, though be sure to take personal recommendations with a grain of salt, and be ready to turn around if the trail is unrideable.

Spring Riding Gear // tahoefabulous.com

Gear
For wetter spring riding, it’s nice to have some specific gear. Layers are always good, and I decide what I want based on what the weather is actually doing. If it’s going to be actively raining, I’ll wear an actual rain coat. I have a Patagonia Torrentshell, which is a very waterproof coat. It’s not very stretchy or packable, though, and I’m interested in trying out something like the Patagonia Stretch Rainshadow which looks to be smaller, lighter, and more comfortable than a typical raincoat. When there’s no rain in the forecast, I just got a new softshell, the Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Hoody, which I think will be perfect. If there’s a slight chance of rain, I’ll often throw my Patagonia Houdini Jacket into my hydration pack. It’s tiny enough that I don’t even notice, and while not fully waterproof, it will help if I get caught in the rain. On the bottom, I like to wear full length chamois tights if it’s cold or particularly muddy. I have the Pearl iZUMi Escape Sugar Thermal, which I like, though I wish they were a little longer. If anyone knows any good full length tight chamois that fit someone 5’11” – let me know! Greyson likes to wear water resistant baggy shorts over his chamois, but I haven’t found any water resistant women’s baggies, unfortunately. When it’s grey, cloudy, and wet, I’ll switch to clear lenses in my Smith Squad MTB Goggles. I also carry sunglasses with me in case the sun comes out, because I cannot function when it’s too bright.

A couple of other things that are nice to have during the spring is a foldable saw, like the SILKY F-180, which is useful if you encounter trees downed across the trail and something like the Nemo Helio Portable Pressure Shower, which is great for rinsing mud off your bike.

Trail Work // tahoefabulous.com

Trail Work
Trail work is a great way to give back, and spring is a time where a lot of trail work gets done. After the snow melts out, there’s often debris and garbage all over the trails. Trails are rutted out and features have been damaged. Additionally, trail builders might be cutting new trails. Some trail groups and governmental agencies might have a trail builder on staff, but all rely heavily on volunteers to get trails built, repaired, and maintained.

While anybody can just go out and pick up litter from a trailhead, trail building requires some knowledge and training, and the best way to get that is to volunteer with groups that organize trail days. Beyond the warm glow of giving back, volunteering on trails often has other benefits – you’ll almost always get at least a beer. It’s also a great way to meet other riders in your area, and once, Greyson and I even got a free shuttle to the top of Mills Peak! Here are some great trails groups in the Sierra that host trail days:

I’m hoping to get out this weekend and do some riding, but the weather that’s coming doesn’t make that likely. I guess I’ll deal with a couple more weeks of winter.

Try This Beer: The Hangar, South Lake Tahoe, California

A couple of weekends ago, Greyson and I went down to South Lake Tahoe, we were able to check out a fairly new taproom and bottle shop – The Hangar.

The Hangar South Lake Tahoe // tahoefabulous.com

 

The Hangar is an awesome venue – the taproom (featuring free popcorn) is a reused shipping container with only a few seats, and most of the seating is outside at long picnic tables. There are a few covered, heated geodesic domes for winter weather, too. The bar is leashed dog friendly, and there’s an off leash dog area right next door. The Hangar is just off of Highway 50 and next to the Upper Truckee River. The one downside to this spot is that it can get a little loud from traffic noise, but not anything that ruins the ambience. It’s a great spot to sit outside and enjoy the sun.

The Hangar South Lake Tahoe // tahoefabulous.com

The Hangar obviously cares about quality beer, and I found lots of interesting beer to try. The taps switch out regularly, and you can check out the current menu here. When I was here, there was a nice mix of Sierra beers, like Sidellis Lake Tahoe, Moonraker Brewing, and Alibi Ale Works, and those from further away, like Pizza Port Brewing Company, Russian River Brewing Company and Figueroa Mountain Brewing. I really loved the Russian River STS Pils.

If you find yourself in South Lake Tahoe, I highly recommend that you check out The Hangar – it’s awesome!

Spring Mountain Biking in Reno

While another snowstorm is barreling towards Truckee (urgghhh, I’m ready for Spring!), I’m dreaming about mountain biking. While we’re still buried in snow in the higher elevations, the Sierra foothills will be ready for riding soon. Last year, when we had a pretty mild winter, Greyson and I found a couple of fun loops to do less than an hour away at Peavine Mountain in Reno, Nevada.

Mountain Biking Peavine Mountain // tahoefabulous.com

The first route we did was a lollipop that involved a chunky climb up and a smooth ride down. It was fun, but for my style of riding I think I’d ride it the other way next time. We covered about 7.2 miles and ~880 feet of elevation in a moving time of 1:17.

Peavine Mountain // tahoefabulous.com
Via Strava
Peavine Mountain // tahoefabulous.com
Via Strava

For this loop, we parked off of Kings Row (which is a residential neighborhood, so be polite if you park here!) and hopped on to Halo Trail and started climbing. We didn’t take the full Halo Trail, but took the left fork on to Curt’s Cut Off at about 3.8 miles. At about 4 miles, Curt’s dead ends into another branch of Halo Trail, turn left, and the climbing is over at that point! At about 4.2 miles, we took the left fork on to Bacon Strip for another short, flat section. Coming from Truckee, I love riding at Peavine because of the wide open views!

Peavine Mountain // tahoefabulous.com

At about 4.4 miles, we started on the real downhill section by taking the left fork on to Crispy Bacon. We descended just over 200 feet in almost 1.5 miles – the descent was pretty mellow. Honestly, it was a little on the boring side. I’d climb up it, if I did this route again. The next section of the descent, starting at mile ~5.8 back on Halo Trail, does get a little spicy! This part of the trail is rocky and little exposed, which to me seems a lot more noticeable on the downhill, versus when we were climbing up. This segment is about 1.4 miles and drops ~380 feet. With that, we got back to the car.

Peavine Mountain // tahoefabulous.com

On the next loop we did, we took a group with a wide variety of mountain bike experience, from total beginners to experts. Everyone seemed to have a great time! It was easy enough that the beginners could handle everything, but had enough features of interest that the experts weren’t bored. This loop was about 5 miles with just under 1,000 feet of climbing, with a moving time of 48 minutes. This route was much smoother than the previous loop, with very little rocky or technical riding.

Peavine Mountain // tahoefabulous.com
Via Strava
Peavine Mountain // tahoefabulous.com
Via Strava

This loop started from the East Keystone Trailhead, a paved parking area with lots of parking. We headed up Keystone Trail, a fairly mellow climb. We were looking for a left turn on to Total Recall at about mile 1.7, but we turned too early on to a fire road – don’t make that mistake. We figured it out pretty quickly, hopped back on Keystone, and found the correct left on to Total Recall pretty quickly. At about 2 miles, there’s a fork in the trail, and we went left on to Poedunk Trail. The first mile of Poedunk is the last bit of climbing on this route, rising up about 260 feet.

Peavine Mountain // tahoefabulous.com

At about mile 4, Poedunk forks, and we needed to make sure that we got back to the correct parking area. We stayed right and stayed on Poedunk (though you can also take the left fork on to P Drop Trail). When Poedunk ended about 0.1 miles later, we went left on Rancho Connector until it re-crossed P Drop at about 4.4 miles. We turned right on P Drop, which dead ends back on Keystone Canyon, at about mile 4.8. From there, it’s just a short bit back to the car. This was a fun loop, but next time I do it, I’ll just take the left fork onto P Drop, as it’s a simpler route back to the car.

Peavine Mountain // tahoefabulous.com

Peavine Mountain is an awesome trail network where you can build routes for all ability and fitness levels. I found it was pretty easy to navigate – many trails have signage, but not all. Having an app like Trailforks to help navigate was nice for that reason. Since Reno is such a quick drive from Truckee-Tahoe, the Peavine trails are a great option when the weather isn’t cooperating up higher. Some of the Peavine trails don’t drain especially well and get think, tire clogging, peanut butter type mud when it’s wet, so be sure to pay attention to the trail conditions. Greyson and I learned the hard way once, and had to turn back after less than a mile!

I’m excited to explore more of what Peavine Mountain has to offer this spring, and I plan to write up some more, longer routes.

Resort Report: Homewood Mountain Resort, Lake Tahoe, California

Homewood Resort // tahoefabulous.com

While big resorts like Heavenly and Squaw Valley might be famous for their lake views, only Homewood Mountain Resort is located directly on the shores of Lake Tahoe. While Greyson spent the massive 10/11 winter working in the marketing department there, I didn’t get a chance to snowboard at Homewood until this winter. I got a couple of discount lift tickets in a fundraising auction this summer, and I went to check out Homewood a couple of weekends ago. I had a blast!

Homewood Mountain Resort // tahoefabulous.com

Homewood Facts:

  • Homewood averages 450 inches of snow, which is similar to what Squaw and Alpine get.
  • Topping out at 7,880′, Homewood has a lower summit elevation than the nearby resorts, but that often means it is much less windy that its neighbors.
  • Homewood has 1,260 lift service acres, and snowcat access to 750 more, which can take you up to 8,740′.
  • Of the 67 runs, 15% is beginner terrain, 40% is intermediate, 30% is advanced, and 15% is for experts.
  • The longest run is 2.1 miles and beginner friendly!
Homewood Trail Map // tahoefabulous.com
Trail Map from Homewood Mountain Resort

Pros:

  • Homewood Mountain Resort has some of the best tree riding I’ve experienced in Tahoe-Truckee.
  • The lake views are awesome, especially with how close you are to the lake. You also have a great lake view from a beginner run, which isn’t true of all the other resorts.
  • If you get there before the lifts open, the parking is super close! We arrived around 8:30 and were able to park literally a few steps from the ticket office and a few more from the lifts.
  • The terrain is quite varied, and there’s stuff for everyone from beginners to advanced skiers and riders.
  • There’s intermediate off piste riding – it’s not only groomers or trees.
  • The day lift tickets can be found for quite cheap if you purchase ahead of time.

Homewood Mountain Resort // tahoefabulous.com

Cons

  • Most of lifts are old and slow. I got pretty cold on the long rides to the top.
  • For a small, independent resort, the food is quite pricey. $15 for chicken strips and fries!
  • If you don’t arrive early or get lucky, the parking is limited because the lot is pretty small. You might be parking quite a ways down the road.
  • For snowboarders, there was a fair amount of traversing and cat tracks.

Ticket/Pass Prices 

  • Adult Season Pass : $429 for Tahoe locals/ $459 for residents. This includes 5 discounted (30% off) friends and family tickets, 10% off food & beverages, $100 off snowcat adventures, and unlimited skiing/riding at Red Lodge Mountain Resort in Montana!
  • Online Adult Daily Rate: $49 (non-peak, non-holiday)
  • Online Adult Peak Rate: $52 (includes all Saturdays (aside from Holiday Dates below) plus Dec. 25, January 1, January 21, February 18-22)
  • Online Adult Holiday Rate: $61 (includes Dec 22 – December 24, December 26 – December 31, January 2 – January 5, January 19 – January 20, Saturday February 2, February 16 – 17, February 23.)
  • Kids 4 and under ski free!
  • There are also deals for students, seniors, families and buying in bulk.

Homewood Resort // tahoefabulous.com

Spring Skiing & Snowboarding in Tahoe

Spring Skiing and Snowboarding Tahoe // tahoefabulous.com

It’s light out in the evenings, it’s starting to warm up, and it’s officially spring on the calendar! While I appreciate a powder day or storm riding session as much as the next person, spring is my favorite time of year to get on the mountain in Tahoe.

Only in California are we #blessed with such a long spring ski season, and, with the amount of snow we got this winter, it’s going to be extra long in 2019! The days are long, it’s usually warm and sunny, everybody is more relaxed, and the resorts get much less crowded. What’s not to love?

However, there are a few tips to get the most out of the spring ski and ride season.

1. Check the weather. It’s probably going to be warm and sunny, but we can get snow storms basically every month of the year in Tahoe. And, the weather can change really quickly so be prepared for winter driving, even if it’s April or May.

2. Dress appropriately. Nothing will ruin my day faster than being overly hot, while others are miserable when cold. Know which type you are, and that will help you dress for the in-between weather. For spring skiing, I like to wear thin, light pants (like Arcteryx Sentinal Pants or Patagonia Powderbowl Pants), a light weight base layer (like the Patagonia Midweight Capilene or this Midweight Base Layer by Stoic), a down or synthetic vest (I live in my Marmot Aruna Down Vest) and a light wind shell (like the Patagonia Houdini Jacket or the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Lite Jacket).

Good spring #skiing and #riding at @sugarbowlresort today. #selfieselfie

A post shared by Lynn (Tahoe Fabulous) (@tahoefabulous) on

3. Make sure you have sun glasses and/or dark goggles. Suncloud is my favorite brand for nice, polarized sunglasses that aren’t too expensive. For goggles, I wear the Smith Squad Snow Goggles in both winter and spring, just switching out lenses based on conditions. I’ve had other goggles that make my face sweaty when it’s warm out, but I haven’t run into that with the Smith Squads. They ventilate well.

4. Find sunscreen that doesn’t sweat into your eyes. I try to find environmentally friendly sunscreen that isn’t tested on animals, doesn’t turn my face white, and doesn’t run directly into my eyes the second I heat up. So far, Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer is the best thing I’ve found for my face. I don’t care as much about my neck/arms/body turning white, so for that I use thinksport.

5. Get your board or skis freshly waxed and tuned. If you’ve been riding a lot all winter, your skis or board might be a little beaten up and in need of some work. Some people like to use a softer “spring” wax for warmer weather to help glide faster in wetter conditions. Note: some waxes contain fluorocarbon additives which aren’t great for human health or the environment. PFCs from the wax persist in waxers blood streams, likely enter water sources and soil from skis and snowboards, and are manufactured using toxic chemicals that end up in water pollution. Good news, there are green ski wax alternatives available. I bought a variety pack of Purl Wax for Greyson for Christmas. We haven’t tried it out yet, but I’ll report back on how it works.

6. Wear your helmet! Just because it’s mellower skiing and snowboarding doesn’t mean you don’t need to protect your brain. Even if you’re not worried about your own abilities, worry about someone else crashing into you!

Garmin Forerunner 35 Review

Garmin Forerunner 35 Review // tahoefabulous.com

At the end of 2018, my formerly trusty, now almost 4 year old Garmin Forerunner 910xt started to be not-so-reliable. It only seemed to track my rides on about one out of three outings. So I started shopping for a new GPS watch.

I wanted something that could track steps and heart rate without a chest strap, and I wanted something that I could wear as a day to day watch. I didn’t need something to track open water or pool swims, because my 910xt is still functional enough for that. I also knew that I wanted to pay under $300. I knew I wanted to stick with Garmin (bad experience with a Fitbit), and pretty soon narrowed it down to a Garmin Forerunner 35 ($169.99) and the Garmin Forerunner 235 ($249.99). The main benefits of the 235 over the 35 is that the Forerunner 235 has a color LCD display and the ability to control the music on your smartphone. While those features would be nice, it was not worth the almost $100 price difference to me. Additionally, the Forerunner 35 has a slightly longer battery life. I bought my Garmin Forerunner 35 in mid-January, and I’ve worn it nearly every day since then. The Forerunner 35 is a smart watch, GPS tracker and activity tracker, and I think it does a good job at all of these.

Garmin Forerunner 35 Review // tahoefabulous.com
Photo from Garmin.com

GPS Tracker
The ability to GPS track my mountain bike rides was the number one reason I wanted a new GPS watch, so this is the most important function to me. So far, I’ve worn it on two mountain bike rides and ten or so days snowboarding. (The downside of buying it in winter).

It’s worked great on mountain bike rides! It’s so much lower profile than my 910xt, so I don’t worry about bashing it in a crash nearly as much. I’ve bumped it into a few things just in daily wear, and there hasn’t been a scratch on the glass screen. I haven’t crashed my bike while wearing it yet, though. It also finds the satellites very quickly, usually within a minute, which means I’m not waiting around at the trailhead waiting to connect. After a ride is complete, the ride connects with the Garmin Connect app over bluetooth and uploads as soon as I get somewhere with service. I have my Garmin Connect account connected to Strava, and my ride appears there within a few minutes. This is a huge improvement over my old 910xt, which needed to connect over the ANT stick on my computer.

The automatic activity choices on the Forerunner 35 are Run Outdoor, Run Indoor, Bike, Cardio, and Walk. Unfortunately, the Cardio activity doesn’t connect with GPS, so if I want to track a non-bike or run outdoor activity, like snowboarding, I have to select run and manually change the activity to snowboard on Garmin Connect and Strava after uploading. It’s not the biggest deal in the world, just a little annoying. I wish there was an “Other” cardio option that launched GPS tracker.

Activity Tracker
The Forerunner 35 is an awesome daily activity tracker. It tracks heart rate, calories burned, activity minutes, steps and tells me to move when I’ve been sitting too long. I was curious about the heart rate tracker, because I know the wrist sensors aren’t as good as the heart rate straps (though it’s way less annoying to me!). After I’d had the watch for a few weeks, I went to my annual physical, and my resting heart rate measured there was within one of what my Forerunner 35 said! Where it does seem to be a little off is when I’m working hard – I think it tends to measure my heart rate as lower than it is. The calorie burn is based on your heart rate and activity throughout the day as well as the height and weight you set up in the Garmin Connect profile.

Garmin Forerunner 35 Review // tahoefabulous.com

I think the step counter on the Forerunner 35 is much more accurate than the basic Fitbit I used to have, which seemed to overestimate the amount of steps. I also really like that the step goal adjusts based on how many steps you take, creating an achievable goal to strive for. The Forerunner 35 will tell you to “Move!” if I have been sitting too long, which is great for someone with a mostly office job, like me. The Forerunner 35 tracks sleep and active minutes per week, though I don’t pay a ton of attention to those features. If that’s something you’re interested in, you can keep track with this watch.

Smart Watch
When you are in range of your smart phone, you’ll get notifications on the screen of the watch over Bluetooth. I get text, call, and email notifications – basically anything I set up as push notifications on my phone. Since the screen isn’t huge (0.93″ x 0.93″), I don’t see a large portion of the message, but usually there’s enough to get the gist. It’s not the most advanced smart watch out there, but it functions well enough, and I like that the smallish screen size makes it more wearable.

Additionally, I LOVE that the main face is just a basic watch. I haven’t worn a watch since college, but it’s so nice to check the time by just glancing at my wrist instead of digging out my phone. I do wish that it was easier to control which notifications came through on the watch. There are some push notifications that I want to come through on my phone, but not on the watch, like social media alerts for work accounts and new podcast downloads. I haven’t figured out how to do that yet though.

The battery life for the watch has been great for me. It supposedly lasts for 13 hours on GPS mode and up to 9 days in smart watch mode. I’ve never run it all the way to dead, I usually charge it overnight every 5 or 6 days. It also charges pretty quickly, within a few hours.

Pros
– Accurate GPS tracking that locks on to satellite quickly
– Tracked activities transmit over bluetooth to smart phone
– Wrist heart rate monitor tracks activity and resting heart rate
– Low profile is great for mountain biking or other outdoor activities
– Works well as daily activity tracker
– Good battery life
– GREAT value for its price, especially compared to other GPS trackers

Cons
– Silicon band gets stinky with daily wear
– Push notifications not easily customizable
– No GPS “Other Cardio” option

All in all, the Garmin Forerunner 35 is a great value GPS watch, especially for mountain biking. The activity tracker and smart watch features work well and are beneficial additions. If you’re looking for a lower cost GPS watch, I highly recommend this model.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I receive a small percentage of the sale as compensation – at no additional cost to you. I promise to only recommend products that I use and enjoy!

Resort Report: Diamond Peak, Incline Village, NV

Diamond Peak // tahoefabulous.com

After nine seasons of snowboarding in and around the Tahoe-Truckee area, I’ve gotten to ride at quite a few resorts. I especially love checking out the smaller, quirkier local resorts like Diamond Peak, located above the east shore of Lake Tahoe in Incline Village, Nevada.

Diamond Peak Facts:

  • Diamond Peak is a community owned resort – it’s owned and operated by the Incline Village General Improvement District, so it tends to be one of the more affordable resorts in the Tahoe area.
  • It tops out at 8,540 feet, which isn’t one of the tallest peaks in the area, but it has a vertical drop of 1,840 feet – the 4th highest in the Tahoe Basin.
  • The longest run at Diamond Peak is 2.1 miles, and the resort has 655 skiable acres.
  • Diamond Peak has been in operation since 1966 (originally as Ski Incline) – more than 50 years!
Diamond Peak Ski Resort // tahoefabulous.com
Trail Map from Diamond Peak.

Pros:

  • The view of Lake Tahoe from the top of Diamond Peak is incredible. While there are other ski resorts that also have lake views, like Heavenly or Alpine Meadows, I think that Diamond Peak might be my absolute favorite.
  • There are some really fun tree glades that hold snow well. And, since the mountain tends to be more family oriented, the more difficult terrain doesn’t get tracked out super quickly.
  • The mountain has a small town, down home feel! It’s not corporate, and you can tell that the people who work there care about their customers.
  • Food and drinks are cheaper here than most other resorts, especially the large ones owned by Vail or KSL.
  • The resort is very family friendly, and beginner oriented if you or people you ski or ride with are just starting out.
  • If you’re under 6 or over 80, you ski or ride for free!

Cons:

  • Since it’s a smaller resort, it doesn’t have the variety of terrain that larger resorts have.
  • Most of the lifts are older and aren’t detachable style. One even has a  mini magic carpet for onboarding, which can make things challenging for snowboarders and newer skiers.
  • For snowboarders, there are quite a few flat-ish and narrow cat tracks that you need to use to get around the mountain.
  • There is less advanced terrain than other mountains.
  • It’s not a party mountain, if that’s what you’re looking for. It’s much more local and family oriented.

Ticket/Pass Prices:

  • Adult Season Pass: $479 with no blackout days! There are deals for children, youth, seniors, and Incline Village residents. You also get quite a few free days at partner resorts all over the Western US.
  • Adult Value Lift Ticket: $89 (Opening day – December 21, midweek January 7 – March 17, March 17 – Closing day)
  • Adult Weekend Lift Ticket: $99 (Non-holiday weekends January 12 – March 17)
  • Adult Peak Lift Ticket: $109 (December 22 – January 6, Martin Luther King Jr Weekend, Presidents Day Weekend)
  • Beginner Lift Access: $49 – $69
  • There are also discounts for children, youth, and seniors

Diamond Peak // tahoefabulous.com

Things to do in Nevada City

Nevada City // tahoefabulous.com

Nevada City, a historic gold mining town just off Highway 49, is one of my favorite close destinations when I need a change of pace. It’s only about an hour from Truckee and, but it’s at ~2,400 feet elevation, so it’s cooler than the valley in the summer and warmer than the mountains in the winter. There are a ton of things to do in Nevada City year round and activities for everyone, indoors and outside.

Hoot Trail // tahoefabulous.com
Mountain biking the Hoot Trail in Nevada City. Photo by Greyson Howard.

Nevada City has a strong and growing mountain bike scene, with awesome trail building and improvement done by BONC. My favorite trail in the area is Hoot (read my trail report here) and I also like Scott’s Flat Trail.

For non mountain bikers, there’s tons of great hiking in the area. I like Hirschman Trail, an easy, out and back trail that’s about 5 miles round trip. Another great trail is the Deer Creek Tribute Trail, an easy trail that’s about 3.6 miles one way, depending on the route taken. If you’re interested in the history of the area, this trail is a great choice as it honors Chinese and Nisean history of this area, with informational stations along the way.

Hoyt's Trail Nevada City // tahoefabulous.com
South Yuba River from Hoyt’s Trail.

If you’re looking for a trail along the river, Hoyt’s Trail in the South Yuba River State Park starts by the 49 Crossing area and travels 1.2 miles to a beach called Hoyt’s. Branching off from that trail are numerous steep and narrow trails that access the South Yuba River. If you’re visiting the South Yuba River in the summer, I have to recommend Gnarbuckling, a unique form of river travel that can only be done in the Yuba River.

Volunteer Day in Nevada City // tahoefabulous.com
A volunteer restoration day with Bear Yuba Land Trust.

The South Yuba River is one of the best rivers in California. In 1983, local activists formed the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) in order to protect it from dams. These activists were successful, and 39 miles of the South Yuba is permanently protected as one of California’s Wild & Scenic Rivers. The legacy of environmental activism lives on in Nevada City, and there are many local environmental non profits headquartered in town and in nearby Grass Valley. If you’re looking for a different way to spend time outside in this area, the environmental groups are often hosting volunteer events, ranging from litter pick ups to scotch broom removal to citizen science water monitoring. Check out volunteer opportunities at SYRCL, Bear Yuba Land Trust, and Sierra Streams Institute, just a few of my favorite organizations.

Wild & Scenic Film Festival // tahoefabulous.com
Wild & Scenic Film Festival 2019, photo from SYRCL.

Nevada City is affectionately and accurately known as the place “where hippies go to retire”, and, because of that, there are way more arts and cultural activities than you’d expect in a town of around 3,000 people. My favorite of these is the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, hosted by SYRCL each year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend in January.

“The Wild & Scenic Film Festival is the largest film festival of its kind, showcasing the best and brightest in environmental and adventure films. Our 5-day flagship festival is held annually in the historic small towns of Nevada City and Grass Valley, California. Featuring more than 150 films in 10+ venues, workshops, visiting filmmaker and activist talks, family-friendly programs, art exhibitions, parties, and more–you won’t want to miss this festival!”

Nevada City also hosts the Nevada City Film Festival, which features independent films and filmmakers, and also hosts movies, concerts and live theater at several venues around town. During the summer, there are Art Walks on the first Friday of June, July, and August. No matter when you visit, there will be something going on.

Nevada City Winery // tahoefabulous.com
Photo from Nevada City Winery

Nevada City also has excellent farm to table restaurants, wineries with locally grown grapes and awesome local breweries. For tasting, stop by the Nevada City Winery, Szabo Vineyards Tasting Room or the Ol’ Republic Brewery Tasting Room.

Nevada City Restaurants // tahoefabulous.com

If you’re looking for a place to eat, my favorites are Three Forks Brewery (the wood fired pizza is worth the wait and whatever the seasonal salad is), Roadhouse (biscuits and vegetarian gravy), Mi Pueblo Taqueria (chile relleno burrito) and Lefty’s Grill (another pizza recommendation, specifically the Napa pizza).

Nevada City is a great weekend getaway that I highly recommend!

Winter Essentials

Winter Essentials // tahoefabulous.com

Winter has finally arrived here in Truckee! We’ve gotten more than 2 feet on the mountains with another 5 feet in the forecast. Living in Tahoe is in general pretty awesome, especially the winter, especially when the snow is deep, fresh and fluffy. But when you live somewhere the winter can last from October until June, the weather can start to drag. There are a few things I’ve found that help make the winter more bearable.

In honor of the first real storm of the season, here are a few of my winter favorites.

Tahoe Daily Snow // tahoefabulous.com

Tahoe Daily Snow: This website, part of the Open Snow network, which “was created by a team of local weather forecasters who are life-long skiers and riders. During the winter, our forecasters write “Daily Snow” updates that will point you toward the best snow conditions. You can also use our mountain-specific forecasts, cams, and snow reports to find the best snow.” The best thing about the Tahoe Daily Snow is that it shares the long range forecast, and the author Bryan Allegretto explains some of the science behind forecasting for weather nerds and powder seekers alike.

Snowboarding Gear for Women // tahoefabulous.com

Outdoor Winter Hobby: If you’re going to live somewhere that gets a lot of winter, you can’t just look forward to summer. You’ve got to find something that you like doing outside. Obviously snowboarding and skiing are big ones (here’s a link to my favorite gear to get you started snowboarding and here’s a link to my friend Kristen’s tips for adult beginner skiers).

Donner Summit Canyon Snowshoe // tahoefabulous.com

If you’re not into either of those, there are a ton of other options. Consider snowshoeing, cross country skiing, backcountry ice skating, skijoring, or basically anything that will get you outside in the winter.

Welcome back to #westseattle

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A Good Insulated Mug & Something to Drink: A hot beverage helps me stay warm and happy on cold days. I’m a big fan of the Klean Kanteen wide insulated bottle when I want to be able to throw my bottle around and know it won’t leak and the Klean Kanteen insulated tumbler for easy drinking. My drink of choice is a dirty latte made with coconut milk, Trader Joe’s Chai Latte mix and an espresso blend from Verve Coffee Roasters.

A Workout Routine: Winter days are short, so it’s hard to get out and be active after work. I can’t wait until the weekend to get my endorphin fix, so I need to do something. I have a gym membership at a place with a good weight set up, so I generally focus on weight lifting during the winter. I learned weight lifting through playing sports though out high school, and I did some personal training a few years ago as a refresher so I’m pretty confident in my ability to lift safely on my own. In the past couple of years, I’ve followed/adapted Strong Curves, The New Rules of Lifting for Women, and PHUL. If you’re new to lifting, the Reddit XX Fitness community is awesome, supportive and informative. I’ve also loved taking spin and weight lifting classes in the past.

Winter Essentials // tahoefabulous.com

A Library Card: There’s only one thing I disagree with Leslie Knope about: libraries are amazing. Even in the small town I live in, our library system is awesome and has tons of books available. I read on my Kindle 99% of the time, and my library has lots of e-books available. For 2019, I’m trying to spend less time aimlessly scrolling the internet in bed at night, and e-books from the library have been really helpful in achieving this goal. A few recommendations for this year: The Power by Naomi Alderman, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, and CIRCE by Madeline Miller.

Battery Packs: When the power goes out, it’s nice to have something that you can use to recharge devices. We have the Goal Zero Yeti 150 Portable Power Station that we mainly use for camping, but it’s come in handy during stormy weather. Smaller rechargeable power sources like this one are nice to have, and it’s great to have something like this AA battery power bank for when the power outage lasts for a few days.

#whiskey and #watercolor

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Indoor Hobbies: When the weather gets too bad, I need something to do inside or I go stir crazy. In addition to reading and working out, I’ve spent the last couple of winters practicing water colors, doing basic sewing, and I’ve recently gotten into bullet journaling.

Wood on wood on wood on wood. #misenplace #onionjam #woodpanel #ilovethe70s

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A Go To Comfort Meal: There are a few hearty meals that I find myself craving in the winter: Red Curry Chicken from Cravings: Hungry for More by Chrissy Tiegan, Onion Jam from Lodge Cast Iron Nation, Lasagna Soup from A Farm Girl Dabbles, and Sag Paneer from Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker with homemade naan.

Winter Car Kit: Having a winter safety kit in my car makes me feel a lot less stressed out about driving in the snow. You can buy a pre-made emergency kit, but I always have at least tire chains (Be sure to practice putting them on some time when you’re not on the side of the road in a snow storm.), fingerless mittens that I don’t care about ruining, a foldable shovel, and a piece of flattened out cardboard (for kneeling on). For non emergency car accessories, I love my mitt windshield scraper and lock de-icer. Note: store your lock de-icer outside of your car.

Manini'owali Beach Hawaii // tahoefabulous.com

Plans for a Warm Weather Vacation: They say that planning a vacation is almost as satisfying as actually taking one, and dreaming about (and doing comprehensive spreadsheets for) a trip to a warm destination has gotten me through many long Tahoe winters. Some of my favorite trips include the Big Island, Hawaii, Raja Ampat, Indonesia, and Mendocino, California.

Raja Ampat // tahoefabulous.com

Currently, Greyson and I are trying to decide between the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and the southern end of Baja, Mexico for a fall trip. Any recommendations?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I receive a small percentage of the sale as compensation – at no additional cost to you. I promise to only recommend products that I use and enjoy!