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I skied the in trees Sunday on a perfect powder day–the kind that happens only four or five times a season. We were lucky to make it to Sierra at Tahoe. We survived a bit of an ordeal Saturday with the Bay Area Ski Bus getting turned around by a stubborn California Highway Patrolman along Highway 88 to Kirkwood. He said the road was “deadly,” and he refused to allow trucks and buses through. Our busload of 60-odd disappointed people steered away from the slopes and toward the Best Western Placerville Inn. But everyone was cheered up by the beers provided by Trumer Pils based in Berkeley.

Located within a 45-minute drive to Sierra at Tahoe, Placerville is a quiet, historic mining town. We decided to take the Best Western’s shuttle to downtown Placerville and explore the shops and restaurants. Per our shuttle driver’s suggestion, we ate (hamburger for my boyfriend; turkey burger for me) at Original Mel’s in downtown and bought some magazines at the Placerville News Company, which has an excellent magazine selection.

Of course, we walked out with Skiing Magazine. Ironically, one of the articles talked about Sierra at Tahoe, where the Bay Area Ski Bus was taking us on Sunday. Often people think Sierra at Tahoe is too small and low-key to feature terrain for serious skiers, but the magazine revealed the recently opened gates to Huckleberry Canyon found to the left of the Grandview Express. The skiing there is rumored to be especially good on powder days. The resort offers a 2.5 hour lesson for advanced skiers that includes the necessary backcountry gear.

For me, the backcountry will have to wait. Instead, on Sunday, we immediately headed to the West Bowl, where I enjoyed some of my best runs of the day in the trees between Beaver (blue) and Dogwood (blue) and Beaver and Clipper (black). Sierra is known for its tree skiing, and now I could see why. It was my first time delving into the trees, and it was thrilling to plot my route, with no skiers or ski lifts in sight. I could hear the birds chirping in the trees, and I felt like I was alone in nature. Surprisingly, plenty of powder lingered in the trees from last week’s storms, and more was falling (a total of seven inches accumulated on Sunday).

The lines in West Bowl were long, so we decided to take Grandview Express to Preacher’s Passion (a black), which was a huge powder stash, cascading roughly 1,300 feet and dotted with pillows of snow. The powder was waist-high at times, although rocks occasionally peeked through on the trail. Jackrabbit (a black) had almost as much snow as Preacher’s Passion. For the last run of the day, we took it easy on Lower Main (a blue); however, I kept tapping the sides and riding the bumps and jumps. I figured it was the last run of the day, and I might as well go for it!

Lesson of the day: although Sierra at Tahoe has a reputation for being small, it contains secret places to ski and board that are challenging and add to the terrain. You just have to know where to look. Please comment with any hidden gems you know about at Sierra at Tahoe on my blog.