Unless you're a veteran back-country hiker, you don't often reach the top of a Sierra mountain.
If you're a skier or snowboarder, however, the sensation is just part of a great day.
A chair sweeps you skyward and often drops you on top of the world.
Choose a venue: The top of Bear Valley's Koala chair, often the dramatic setting for sunrise services on Easter Sunday; Heavenly, where you're more than 10,000 feet above sea level while you inspect one of the world's most magnificent lakes and two states; or simply, on top of The Face at Dodge Ridge.
There, and at many other locations, the views are almost heart-stopping. Skiers and riders almost always take a minute or two before their next run and admire the best side of Mother Nature. The moment gets better on bluebird days like Tuesday.
Virtually every resort in the Sierra presents its own version of winter beauty. It's one of the charms of the experience and, besides, how else do you access such special places?
Skeptics will insist that customers pay for such eye-candy through increasing ticket costs. That may be true, but when has that not been a part of the experience?
I was hooked on the sport in part due to those times on mountain peaks. The air you breathed dug down into your soul while sunshine bounced off your face.
Exhilarated, it was soon time for another run down the trail.
For all recreational skiers and riders, there is no better experience.
NOTES Dodge Ridge opened its season by raising more than $6,000 in donations during the Four Days of Giving last month. The money went to various Tuolumne County organizations including Habitat for Humanity and the Sierra Sacramento chapter of the American Red Cross. "This event has truly become a tradition at Dodge Ridge and continues to increase in significance and spirit," Dodge Ridge President Sally Helm said. Dodge discount lift tickets are available at Save Mart and Lucky's stores. More than 90 percent of all ski-resort terrain now is open in the Sierra.
Customers at North Lake Tahoe resorts are benefiting from a new free ski shuttle program. Organizers say the bus service, marketed by ski resorts and the North Lake Tahoe Chamber/CVB Resort Organization and the town of Truckee, served 395 customers over the Christmas holidays.
The buses run between lodging properties to nine different ski resorts on weekends and holidays weeks. It will be available through March 31. Visit www.LakeTahoeTransit.com.
Bear Valley off Highway 4 east of Murphys will hold its Winter Explosion on Jan. 19, starting at 4 p.m. Music, kids movies, dinner, torchlight parade and fireworks will spice the event. Call (209) 753-2301 or visit www.bearvalley.com.