Winter in North Lake Tahoe through the eyes of locals

Truckee locals + husband-and-wife duo Nick Visconti and Laura Lawson Visconti share how an almost record-breaking winter shook up their season.

From Nick:

Throughout this season, people have continued to ask me how my winter has been. And my response has varied, largely depending on how much snow I shoveled that week. In retrospect, however, I can say that it was unforgettable. For a myriad of reasons, this winter has been both challenging and rewarding. So let me just cut to the chase by sharing three of my top challenges and rewards of living in Truckee this winter. 

Top 3 Challenges:

  1. Getting to work on time. Snow removal? More like snow upheaval. Record-breaking snowstorms have made it rather interesting getting to work this winter.
  2. Getting groceries. Even the simplest of errands had its challenges. Since we shop at New Moon Natural Foods in Truckee and Whole Foods in Reno, we'd often get stuck in Nevada simply getting supplies for the week because of road closures.
  3. Getting to North Lake Tahoe ski mountains. Believe it or not, I know many folks from out-of-town who skied more than I did. With house repairs, extreme weather, and often, extreme traffic, skiing had to take a back seat to the upkeep of my back porch!

Top 3 Rewards:

  1. The precipitation. With the watershed beginning to refill and the Truckee River flowing again, the sheer amount of precipitation this winter around North Lake Tahoe was a top-shelf blessing in and of itself. 
  2. The spirit of Tahoe. People believe in Lake Tahoe tourism again. Many local businesses have economically recovered from the tough times brought on from the California drought, while visitation and quality of experience is up from past calendar years. What's more, the outlook for summer is bright. 
  3. Mountain conditions. Naturally, from a snowboarder’s perspective, the hallmark of this season was the snowboarding conditions around North Lake Tahoe. Terrain that hasn’t been accessible in more than five years was back in action. And action there was! However, with backcountry fanatics angling for fresh lines on bluebird days, I tended to sneak into the last best kept secret for powder hounds in North Lake Tahoe, Northstar’s Lookout Mountain.

From Laura:

Unlike my husband, living in snow is still a relatively new concept for me, since this was only my second winter in Lake Tahoe. No one could have prepared me for the reality of more than 50 feet of snow in North Lake Tahoe, most of which dumped in January and February alone. While the constant road closures, shoveling and power outages were a hassle (to say the least), it was all worth it the second my snowboard hit the powder. Below are some of the things I learned from this winter in Truckee.

1. Carry snowshoes. Yes, there seriously were times I carried snowshoes in my backpack, pulling them out to trek through the snow to a nearby work meeting. It allowed me the opportunity to get outside the office, stretch my legs and appreciate the beauty of where I live from a totally unique perspective. Plus, nothing screams “local” more than arriving to a meeting covered in snow, grinning from ear to ear in snowshoes.

2. Ski and snowboard off-peak times. As Nick stated above, it was almost impossible to fight off the crowds that swelled Truckee’s streets and highways on the weekends. Thus, snowboarding Northstar during off-peak times, like weekdays, was more crucial than ever.

3. Explore beyond the ski resorts. Another great way to beat the crowds and traffic is to simply skip them altogether, exploring off-the-beaten-path around North Lake Tahoe. Whether you embark on a backcountry adventure, like one of our favorites, Relay Peak at Mount Rose, or snowshoe through the Donner Train Tunnels, the beauty of the region goes far beyond groomed trails.

4. Stock up on candles. We lost power at our cabin more than a dozen times throughout the winter, particularly during one fateful week in mid-January. Aside from making sure that our headlamps worked and flashlights had fresh batteries, I found that making sure our cabin was stocked with candles was a great way to bring a cheerful ambience to an otherwise frustrating experience. My favorite candle of choice was pretty much any scent from P.F. Candle Co., available for purchase at Dressed Boutique in downtown Truckee.

5. Plan ahead. There’s no way around it, that when snow hits, everything will just take longer. Your plans could be foiled, your car could get stuck, the roads could be closed. Have a Plan B (and Plan C and D) in place in the off chance a rogue storm hits. And don’t think just because the calendar says spring that you’re off the hook. After all, it was snowing just this past weekend. Embrace it, wax those skis, and enjoy the ride. See you on the slopes for some epic spring shred!

Laura Lawson Visconti

Laura is an adventure-obsessed digital marketing storyteller based out of Truckee, California. Her foray into social media began in 2011 when Instagram was released; today her social reach is over 150,000. Additionally, Laura works as the Head of Marketing for local start-up Tahoe University. Additionally, Laura has worked as a successful artist and has exhibited her work in Seattle, Portland and San Francisco. In 2012 she published her first book, Believing is Seeing, chronicling her journey as a visually impaired artist. Laura can usually be found exploring the mountains around Lake Tahoe with her husband, Nick. When she's not snowboarding at Northstar, Laura also enjoys cooking, camping, biking, sunrises and staying active in her local community. Read more about Laura on her website, lauralawsonvisconti.com, and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.