Ski season ending: China Peak closing Sunday

China Peak will wrap up winter operations for the season Sunday, March 31, the ski resort at Lakeshore announced Saturday.

With the Sierra snowpack at less than 55% and recent warm temperatures, the conditions at China Peak deteriorated quickly over the past several weeks. Originally, China Peak had projected closing April 21.

So with Badger Pass in Yosemite also closing Sunday, the winter recreation season is all but over, it appears.

Well see if the spring conditions will speed up the opening of Kaiser Pass, the High Sierra route to Florence Lake, Mono Hot Springs and Edison Lake. Kaiser Pass generally opens around Memorial Day weekend.

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December trip to So. Utah brings new perspective

Hoodoos dominate the landscape at Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah.

In early December, I got the chance to visit southern Utah while checking out out two of that state’s five national parks.

I had already spent time in Arches and Canyonlands, but Zion and Bryce Canyon were completely new territory. (I didn’t make it to Capitol Reef; next time, for sure.)

Hiking was my main objective, and I wrote “Take a Hike” stories about Zion’s Angels Landing and Bryce Canyon’s Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop for the newspaper.

Since I was visiting off season, both parks were practically empty and I had these famous trails almost to myself. Rangers at both parks said I was lucky to be visiting during the warmest December on record.

We in California are lucky to have be surrounded with mountains, beaches, meadows, deserts, waterfalls, pristine alpine lakes. And I definitely make it a point to enjoy those settings as much as possible.

But there’s nothing in this state like the 1,500-foot red sandstone cliffs that form Zion Canyon, or the thousands of hoodoos that fill Bryce Canyon. And I returned to California with more appreciation for this country’s natural beauty.