A Skiing Opportunity in the Local Mountains - Feb 20, 2011

Not often do we get enough snow in local mountains to lay down a ski and not wreck it! It happened on Feb 20; first time in a number of years. It snowed on Saturday and into the evening. I figured Sunday morning would be my big chance. I contacted my XC ski buddy Chris - proposing a drive up towards Mt. Hamilton where they had a good snowfall, but he was too focused on his new girlfriend. I called Kathy, but she was out the door to mountain bike at Fort Ord with Roger and Jim. I was tempted to join them, but was promised they'd head out there again soon and so I had yet another solo adventure. First challenge was getting up Mt. Bache Rd, which gets steep towards the crest and there's no snow plows around these parts... Too steep. I spun my wheels and had to put on my chains right there in the middle of the road, PO'ing some other snowplayers. Even w/ chains I couldn't get up. Yow, so I parked it and actually used the opportunity to do a second run (run #1 for today was a 2.6 mile jog from my house to near the lighthouse where I could get a clear view of the beautiful snow-covered mountains soon after sunrise). I ran up the road to where the snow was deep enough to start to ski on, along the side of the pavement.

A snow-covered vineyard on Mt Bache Road. Bizarre.

I'm all smiles, it is truely gorgeous up here.

Junior snow bunnies with hi-tech snowball making gizmo's

Direct hit!

....making ammo to defend the high ground


Improvised snowboard, on the same little hill at the ridge that we (the astro club) climbed back in '89 for the big summer Total Lunar Eclipse


WTF? (What the Ferrell??) I turn and see none other, right there on his mountain bike in the snow! Seduced by the beauty of the mountains, he'd cycled from home up Eureka Canyon and was going to head down at Mt. Madonna Rd., right around the corner

Ferrell was equally surprised - wasn't I just 2 days ago in bed with pneumonia?? Correct, but a new round of drugs had put me on the mend.

Does this look like a good road to bike on? (not a great road to ski on either, I'll admit)

No sooner had Rick and I said our mutual encouragements and pushed on, I saw a car come around the corner. It was the photographer for the Register Pajaronian. He stopped and said - "This is great! You just made my day!" and snapped a few photos of me. He seemed eager to get me into his forthcoming article on the snow day. Sure enough, Ferrell logged on to the e-Edition and downloaded the article and pix below. But, no Ferrell in the story. I guess he didn't have the cach'e equal to my circa 1980 Early Winters Gortex ski gear. But he did get rooked; putting out way more effort getting up there than I did. Oh well.

A cut/pasted assembly of the Register-Pajaronian article 2/22/11...

Nearby mountains were draped with a hefty blanket of snow over the weekend as a chilly winter storm from the Gulf of Alaska barged through the Central Coast over the past several days. On Saturday, snow flurries left as much as 6 inches of snow on the upper elevations of the Santa Cruz Mountains and a chilly rain drenched the region for most of the day. Cold temperatures and dark clouds clinging to the mountaintops preserved the snow blanket, allowing time for hundreds of people to frolic in the snow over the weekend. Tejah Echenique and his brother, Ebel, of Santa Cruz, built a 4-foot-tall snowman — complete with eyes, mouth and stick arms — on the side of Summit Road Sunday.
“I think he’s taller than me, now,” Tejah said.
Then the brothers dismantled the snowman and rolled each of the massive snowballs, which had made up its figure, down a steep hill. Ebel said it was his first time in the snow.

Rick Nolthenius, an astronomy instructor at Cabrillo College, took advantage of the local snow to strap on a pair of cross-country skis.
“I just thought I’d give it a try,” Nolthenius said. “It’s fun just to be out here.”
He then glided off around a curving section of Summit Road.

Austin Cross, a forecaster for the National Weather Service of Monterey, said today should be mostly sunny and slightly warmer than the past few days. Highs should be in the 50s, he said, and lows will plunge into the 30s. Wednesday will have similar conditions. Another storm system from the Gulf of Alaska will come through late Thursday. “This new system will be cold and bring plenty of showers,” Cross said. “There’s a good chance of snow in the mountain ranges as low as 1,000 feet.” Cross added that the freezing level over this past weekend was as low as 1,600 feet and that there were reports of 6 inches of snow on Highway 17 Saturday. Road crews managed to keep the roadway open. Cross described the next storm as “unusually cold.” Rain should continue through Friday.“The good news is that the recent rains have caught us up to normal rainfall levels,” Cross said. “There was that long dry, warm stretch earlier this month and that raised concerns. But we’re OK now.”

and here's Rick Ferrell's account...

"Imagine my surprise on Sunday morning after riding my Mountain bike from Aptos up Eureka Canyon and then up Mt Bache to the top of Loma Prieta.  In that final mile of climbing I spotted a blue Toyota Rav 4 parked alongside the road with a handi-cap placecard.  I thought to myself, no way - Rick is at home with Pneumonia.  I looked at the back of his car and spotted the USTA Triathlon sticker.  "Wow, what a coincidence" I thought, "What are the odds"? Despite my email supporting Rick's "Get Well" soon spiel, forget it.  If there is an adventure and Rick can move, he is all over it.  As I crested the top of Loma Prieta, 3500 feet plus of climbing, there was Rick about to head back down the mountain.  He was as surprised to see me as I was to see him!  He had his trusty camera and fired off a couple pictures.  I wished him well on the way down as I was headed the opposite direction, heading across the summit toward Watsonville and then eventually down Ormsby Cutoff and back to Eureka Canyon Road. But wait, the story gets better.  A photographer just happened to be nearby after I left and snapped this photo of Rick Cross-Country skiing, just seconds after I had bid Rick farewell, be careful, and do those ski's have brakes sort of stuff.  He snapped off a couple of shots of Rick - very cool!  I was at the top talking with the ranger when the photographer walked right by us.  The Mountain bike trek evidently didn't qualify as a photo opportunity! Never mind the 2 plus hours of climbing and hundreds of feet of climbing!!

Oh well!  It was cool to see Rick grace the cover of the Pajaronian.  I called him later to make sure he made it back home in one piece.  It was a miraculous recovery, a miracle of sorts.  The final quote of the day from Rick - 'Don't tell the Delucchi's'.  Yeah - right."