A Snow Experience of A Lifetime

Screen Shot 2019-04-29 at 8.53.53 AMTo kick off spring, our Outdoor Explorers heading to Tahoe National Forest for a snow-packed weekend of adventure. The trip was in partnership with the Gateway Mountain Center which provided knowledgable, friendly guides to support activities throughout the weekend. We spent the weekend at Clair Tappaan Lodge, a beautiful history rich rustic retreat for snow-enthusiasts.

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The trip was originally scheduled for Spring Break but had to get rescheduled due to heavy snowfall. As a result, the timing was a bit tight but we made it work! The group arrived in Tahoe around 11:30 pm on Friday night and worked hard together to lug all of our luggage up the snowy hill in a few sleds.

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The first day was spent snowshoeing around the Cabin area. This was everyone’s first-time snow-shoeing which made the experience extra special. The group learned about dressing properly for the colder weather and soon took off in search of prime-time sledding spots! Once a spot was agreed upon, the fun really picked up. Participants enjoyed tons of free-time, most of them spent it making snow angels, sledding, having snowball fights, and/or building igloos.

After everyone got all their energy out, the group settled down to learn from Gateway Mountain Center staff about Forest Ecology and the important role our forests play in our changing climate. The group learned how to identify different tree species and played a game where they had to use senses other than their sight to locate specific trees throughout the forest. After learning about Forest Ecology, the group started to explore snow science! Participants conducted mini-experiments to get a better understanding of what is actually in the snow and how that varies based off of how deep the snow is in the ground. It was awesome to practice some STEM learning on an Outdoor Trip.

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Downtime at the cabin was filled with card games, mafia, ping-pong tournaments and a lot of great conversation. The group was from around all over the Bay and enjoyed getting to know one another.


The climax of the weekend was the last day, where the group headed to Donner Summit for a first time snowboarding/skiing experience. The youth got suited up with gear and equipment, participated in guided lessons, and spent the rest of the day flying (or falling) down the mountain!

Check out what our Outdoor Explorers had to say about their snow experience! 

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“This weekend was an amazing experience for me. I have gotten to do fun activities like snowshoeing and sledding and learn so much about the snow which I rarely get to experience. In particular, my favorite moment was when I got to ski down a hill for the first time and the feeling of excitement while doing it. I have found that I really enjoy snow sports and I would love to continue doing things in the snow like this. I am so grateful to have gotten the chance to experience this.” – Jada, Outdoor Explorer


“This trip has been a very fun and a great learning experience. I have never skied before in my life or experience the snow like this. We have spent 2 days, learning about forest ecosystems and sledding. I love sledding, it was very fun. Skiing was very scary at first and I still am a bit scared but I am getting the hang of it. I had fun going down the small hill and learning how to turn, falling was fun because we would all laugh. I hope to get better and I hope to come again one day.” – America, Outdoor Explorer

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“Personally, this was my first time being in the snow, and to do this with my friends and Earth Team made this experience 100 times better. This weekend we learned valuable skills such as snowshoeing, skiing, sledding and how to dress appropriately for colder conditions. This weekend we also learned about forest ecology. The sense of teamwork really made us feel much closer and it was more than I expected. This trip was so much fun” – Marco, Outdoor Explorer

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“I have had a lot of fun so far and am looking forward to going again. This was a great chance for me to branch out and meet new people and also get good at something I have never done before. By the time I leave, I will be a pro. Of course, it was fun to get out of the house but this trip is beyond what I was expecting. Id like to express my gratitude for getting people like my friends and I out here to have a new experience and learn new things.” – Jodiah, Outdoor Explorer

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“For me, this was amazing to see snow for the first time all the way to get to experience snowboarding. The snowboarding part of this trip took it to the next level. This is way better than staying at home and playing video games. It was so fun, no matter how much or how hard I fall I always got up happy no matter how much it hurt. I have met so many kids from different schools talking to them, figuring out their different personalities, and spending the night with each other was so cool.” -Elijah, Outdoor Explorer

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“This opportunity allowed me to try new things and experience a new sense of excitement I have never felt before. I have made connections with other interns and was able to learn and enjoy our time in the snow.” – Kathleen, Outdoor Explorer

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“This was my first time skiing so arriving at Donner Ski Ranch was terrifying enough. I was nervous but the staff was really nice and helpful so getting geared up was the easy part. Getting out and actually learning to ski was extremely challenging but my instructor Trevor was incredible, he was so kind and patient with me, plus he had a great sense of humor. I will definitely try skiing again in the future with the hopes of getting better.” – Evelin, Outdoor Explorer


“This trip has allowed me to learn a new skill and has changed my life. I had so much fun snowboarding (and falling) today. It was truly a life-changing experience. This trip made it possible for me to fly down a mountain and have an amazing experience this weekend. It meant the world to me” – David, Outdoor Explorer

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“This was my first time snowboarding so I fell and flipped so much but overall I have been having a great time. I would say that everyone will have plenty of memories from this trip. Snowshoeing and snow science was also really cool. When we went snowshoeing we took sleds to ride down the mountain and we also threw a lot of snowballs. My favorite part of this trip would be when we ate smores since I have never had any before.” – Carlos, Outdoor Explorer

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“Without this trip, I would have never been able to experience something like this. Yesterday, we snow-shoed and hiked up a beautiful snowy mountain in the forest. The trees were so vibrant with the little pops of the bright green from the moss. To top it all off, we went sledding down huge mountains. We had awesome snowball fights and truly a great time playing in the snow, discovering new things, and learning about it – I know I did! I love being with this great group of people, doing something we are all so excited about. Today, I am snowboarding and man! Is it cool! It is so liberating (and scary) to just go freely down the mountain. Even with all the bumps and falls, slipping and sliding. This is one of the best things I have ever gotten the chance to do. I was looking forward to this all week and my expectations of fun adventures did not fail! This is one of the best experiences of my life!”- Asha, Outdoor Explorer

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“I got to know people from other schools and better connect with friends I already had. On top of that, I learned how to better connect with and control my body (which is a necessity for snowboarding). I had to commit to a move or plan to get down the hill which I learned while getting a couple of bumps and bruises but no pain, no gain! This trip allowed the 13 of us to bond, play, learn and relax.”– Nick, Outdoor Explorer

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“I was able to participate in our outdoor trip to Tahoe where we were able to learn new things like skiing and snowshoeing. I have been able to find a new passion. The feeling of zipping down the mountain on a snowboard is second to none and I think it is important to know that this trip played a part in letting me experience it. The outdoor activities we participated in also gave me a greater fondness for and understanding of nature. I hope we get to go on even more adventures.” – Rocky, Outdoor Explorer

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“Earth Team is all about getting outside and learning skills that we will use and enjoy for years to come. I myself really loved this trip. I loved seeing the snow and playing with it. I haven’t since I was 4 yrs old other than in movies and pictures. It was fun putting on snowshoes and hiking into the snow. During our breaks while hiking we sled, built an igloo, an had snowball fights. We built a ramp at one of the spots. I went over the ramp on the sled and went in the air which was amazing! Today, I went skiing which was hard but still a lot of fun even though I fell lots of times I enjoyed it” – Abigail, Outdoor Explorer

Thank you to Gateway Mountain Center, Clair Tappaan Lodge, Donner Summit and Earth Team’s Outdoor Explorers Adult Mentors for an incredible snowy weekend! 




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