Keri Brenner: Mountain magic |

Keri Brenner: Mountain magic

Tori Long and her son James Allsop, 7, of Truckee enjoyed Sunday's festival at Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Area.
Keri Brenner |

If raindrops were the object of our affection last week, this week it is snow.

The splendor of the white-draped mountains at Tahoe was overwhelming to the heart and to the eye — including at Sunday’s inaugural festival at Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Area.

In a brilliant act of business timing, the owners of the ski center last fall completed a new complex to replace the former converted barn that had lacked indoor space and was short on amenities.

Opening Day was only a few weeks before El Nino finally arrived, dumping down the lovely white stuff after four years of drought.

“This new center was built exactly to specifications for cross-country skiing,” said Sally Jones, ski area manager of the new facility, called Alder Creek Adventure Center. “We were super-busy over Christmas, but still people didn’t have to wait.

“There was no hectic-ness,” she added. “It was very calm, and everyone got what they needed.”

It appeared that such was also the case on Sunday — at least with everyone I talked to. With more than 600 people attending, there was little crowding or jostling.

“I think this place is phenomenal,” said Tori Long of Truckee, out for a spin on skis with son James Allsop, 7. “It reminds me of a bygone era when skiing was accessible, parking was simple and you put your stuff in cubbies.”

Long, who has a real estate business, said she appreciates the facility’s child care room, where parents can trade off as one person enjoys quality time on the slopes while the other parent watches the kids.

“And the cafe has great food — healthy, local and organic,” Long added.

Jan Tonner of Penn Valley also was glad she came, but for other reasons.

Tonner, who has done some downhill skiing, said she really wanted to try cross-country. The festival offered discounted fees on lessons, equipment rentals and trail passes.

“I like it much better than downhill,” Tonner said of the Nordic style. “I’m amazed at the workout.”

As for me, it was just fun (except for the non-Zen-like trip home at 15 miles per hour on bumper-to-bumper Route 80).

May your life be as exhilarating as a snow bunny’s ice-dancing revival.

May you find excitement and passion in this issue of Prospector and every day — even if you’re just down the hill here at base camp.

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