There are two sno parks at Carson Pass at the crest of the Sierra Nevada mountains on the only state highway that remains open all winter long: Carson Pass and Meiss Meadow. Either one will take your breath away. Literally; I was taking five steps and then doubling over to catch my breath while scampering around on snowshoes.
Traveling up to Carson Pass, it was first foggy, then rainy, and finally it flurried as the road climbed up to the pass. Then, as if ordained, the sun broke through a hole in the clouds just past Kirkwood, so I happily strapped on my snowshoes while being warmed by the sun.
But then, after I had set off, the hole in the clouds clamped shut and the winds kicked up. While doubled over catching my breath at the top of a cliff overlooking the road snaking downward in the eastern side of the pass, a gust grabbed my hat and blew it over the edge. Resigned that I should not so easily lose the hat–and needing its warmth that I suddenly lacked–I had no choice then but to swing around what in summer would have been a wash around the cliff face and retrieve the hat through pristine powder only to then work my way back up to the ridge line through the same powder.
Parking just past the bridge over the West Fork of the Carson River on Luther Pass Road, I strapped on the snowshoes once more to trek through the flat of the valley along Willow Creek. The clouds alternately opened and closed as I walked around the West Fork of the Carson River, my ears perking up with each rifle retort that echoed through the Valley.
All in all, though, it was a good day.