Skate Skiing from the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe

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Skate Skiing Track, Northstar, California One of the coolest benefits of waking up at the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe is your proximity to the sublime Nordic Center of Northstar. I don’t actually wake up in the Ritz-Carlton, but in my office just off the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton hotel, I keep my skate skiing equipment at the ready. My get-up consists of very skinny, light Fischer skate skis with very low profile Solomon skate bindings, a set of poles that come up to my nose, with special straps that Velcro firmly around my wrists, and my skate boots. Every year, I wait impatiently for the snow to come in abundance so that groomers can lay down the skate-track. The Nordic Center is located just east of the Vista Chair, right at Mid Mountain. If you don’t know it’s there, you’ll never see it. The trail system roams the woods and meadows of the southeastern area of Northstar, outside the boundaries of the downhill ski runs. If you get out early, you have the delight of seemingly endless untracked ribbons of corduroy. It’s not really endless. Northstar has about 35 kilometers of track that serves traditional cross country skiing, otherwise known as stride skiing, as well as snowshoeing, and of course skate skiing. For my circuit, I start at the ski valet of the Ritz-Carlton, slide down to mid-mountain, and then skate uphill to the Cross Country Center, which is a neat little lodge outfitted with all everything you need for your outing, from equipment to clothing to snacks to nice restrooms. From there the trails begin. You start with a switchback climb up to the unloading point of the Village Express Chairlift, then the terrain levels off, crosses over the Woods Downhill Ski Trail, and heads into almost complete solitude. Once you are on this trail, it’s only the sound of your own breath. Looking around, you see tracks of critters, but rarely do you see any person or any animal. The reward comes after a steady climb of about 30 minutes. You dead-end at a picnic table perched over a fabulous view of Lake Tahoe. When I achieve this height, heart thumping and lungs full of cold morning air, I take a pause, take a photo and then I turn around. From here I can nearly coast all the way back to civilization at the Ritz-Carlton. In my view, there is no purer feeling of invigoration. I hope you’ll try it the next time you wake up at the Ritz-Carlton. Posted by Don Carr Skate Skiing Photos

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