Something seemed to awaken inside me as I drove my station wagon up the dusty, bumpy dirt road at dusk. I was surrounded on either side by sagebrush as far as the eye could see, and the purple glow of sunset was settling on the mountains across the valley. Something about driving around the desert looking for a campsite at dusk felt like a symbol of spring. The land was finally dry and visible, inviting us to find a place to rest between adventures.
We continued up a winding road into the mountains and found a pullout next to the creek where we could make dinner and have a beer. Hours past talking about what the weekend would bring and falling asleep in the back of our cars to the sound of the water rushing down from the mountains.
Some of the friends I’d come with would be trail running and climbing this weekend, and others of us would be skiing and mountain biking. Spring was freedom — the season when the mountains and trails and rivers and lakes opened their arms to all types of outdoor recreation. Our biggest problem was how to fit it all in.
Tahoe had been buried under snow for months after a record-breaking winter. My shorts and Chacos had been packed away, my skin hardly remembering what it felt like to have warm sun beating down on it. Waking up in my sleeping bag, staring up at the Sierra bathed in morning light, drinking tea and reading my book felt a little like being reborn after a long slumber.
Every outdoor activity allows us to connect in a different way with the natural world. I’d spent the winter plowing through powder on my skis, making tight turns down steep slopes, sweating my way up the skintrack and zipping my shell up around my face as the snow relentlessly fell. It had been beautiful and energizing in its own way, but it had been a single facet of the outdoor experience.
In spring, the possibilities felt endless. Up high, the snow still blanketed the iconic couloirs of the Sierra, but the valleys were already bursting with wildflowers, the rivers swollen with snowmelt and the sun begged for bare arms. In one day, you could experience the flowing adrenaline of biking down rocky singletrack, the pounding satisfaction of footfalls on dirt trails, the slushy dance of late-season skiing, and warm rock under your fingertips.
If variety is the spice of life, spring is the whole dang spice cabinet. In the next few days, I’d find myself running down the trails behind my house, rediscovering everything in its spring clothing, ski touring up a slushy mountain at sunset and gazing out at Lake Tahoe, and mountain biking alongside the raging Truckee River. It was all on the table.
The world was awake, begging to be experienced in every way possible.