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Tahoe South Blog

Endless snow play without the big pay

Skiing and riding may be the biggest winter draw in Tahoe, but there’s a world of snow play away from the chairlifts.

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We’re long-time locals who spent years finding ways to enjoy winter without ski passes, snow mobiles and other snow play luxuries. Along the way, we discovered that whether you’re visiting or simply trying to make ends meet in Tahoe, you can thoroughly enjoy the snow season as a family and on the cheap.

Everything starts with snow forts and sledding, the first requiring only a couple shovels and the second just a couple sleds or tubes, which you can pick up a K-Mart at the “Y.”

Snow forts are simple to dig in the yard and need only a couple walls for the sure-to-follow snow wars. Especially when the kids were young, we avoided roofed forts as a safety concern rather than worrying about the weight of the snow caving in on the kids.

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Later, when they were strong enough to push their way out of a cave-in, they graduated to the “dug-out mound” type.

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A fun variation on snow wars is what we call the “snow bomb star”—an activity that begins with any number of people lying on their backs in the snow with heads close together in the center. Feet face out and away from each other, forming a “star.” Reaching into the snow around you, the idea is to form snowballs, toss them straight up in the air, angled just enough to come down on somebody else in the star. The opposite—with feet in the center, heads out, works well too.

Depending mostly upon ages of those playing, you might make some rules about how much players can move.  Our rule is that you’re not allowed to move out of the way, though you can turn your head. We also have a “no crying” rule, but that’s a “whole ‘nother” story!

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Mike Filce

Mike is a long-time resident who grew up in So. Cal. and came to Tahoe for the lakes, rivers, trees, the four seasons, and to teach English at South Tahoe High School. He enjoys the outdoors, from snow sports and activities, to fishing, hiking, camping, enjoying the lake, and everything else the Sierra has to offer.

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