Heck, yeah, they want to build a snowman.
And to throw a snowball. And to sled down a snowy hill. Hundreds of fun-seekers flocked to the Sierra as snow accumulated at lower elevations thanks to the recent wave of winter storms. After years of drought, fun in the snow has been in short supply for many in the region. For others, this was the first time experiencing so much snow closer to home.
“Oh, God, yes, after four years of drought, this is awesome. We used to get snow all the way down to Columbia. But the last few years we’ve had to drive where we can get it,” said Sonora resident Lisa Hedges, who came with a group of family members and her grandkids to a spot a little east of Mi-Wuk Village.
Those heading east to find snow from the Central Valley and Bay Area found shorter drives than in recent winters. Along Highway 108, snow cover was visible around Twain Harte. Just past Mi-Wuk Village, snow-seekers stopped en masse to build snowmen and have snowball fights at Three Links Camp. About 10 miles east at Little Sweden past Long Barn, an even larger crowd took advantage of the area’s steep sledding hills.
Hayward resident Leticia Ornelas came with her family, including her 5-month-old daughter. They built several snowmen, posing for pictures as proof of their snowy adventures.
“When we were driving up, we felt like we weren’t going to find snow, and then all of a sudden, there it was,” Ornelas said. “It’s been really fun.”
The two popular stops, just off Highway 108, attracted snow regulars and novices alike. Some carried snowboards, others boogie boards. Both areas are free to those who can find parking along the busy roadway. A few even brought the comforts of home with them. At Little Sweden, a number of families brought portable grills to barbecue along the snow embankments. One intrepid snow-goer even brought a flat-screen TV and satellite dish.
Some families said their young children were experiencing their first truly wet and snowy winter. San Leandro resident Juan Zapien came with his family, including relatives from Riverbank, to Little Sweden for the first time. They bought new snow gear and borrowed sleds for the occasion.
“We were curious as to how they’d do with the sledding and the snow. But they all took to it well,” he said. “They’ve got no fear.”
But the rules for when to leave remain the same, no matter the snow levels. Turlock resident Liz Sloan came with her husband and their three kids to Little Sweden for an afternoon of sledding.
“When they’re wet and we see the first tear, we go home,” she said