The story of Granlibakken’s early days, as told by Kjell “Rusty” Rustad’s daughter, Binth Rustad.

Tahoe history

Binth Rustad at the creek at Granlibakken

Granlibakken Tahoe today is a bustling conference center, lodge, and resort just outside of Tahoe City. The small ski and sled hill onsite is fun for beginners and families, and generations of skiers and snowboarders have earned their chops at Granlibakken’s historic slope. It’s not uncommon to talk to a local or a visitor to the area and hear that they first learned to ski or snowboard at Granlibakken.

But when Kjell “Rusty” Rustad first leased the land that Granlibakken’s ski slope is situated on, it was a small operation. There were no structures onsite, and it was best known for the ski jump that had been built there for the 1932 Olympic Ski Jumping Trials and the 1932 National Ski Association Ski Jumping Tournament. Rusty, together with his wife Marion, developed Granlibakken and gave it its name, which means “hill sheltered by fir trees.” Rusty built a log Ski Hut out of the trees that were cleared for the ski hill. He also built a house to live in and a duplex that slept 6 on each side for visitors.   Rusty worked to further develop the ski area—he built 2 rope tows, expanded the terrain, groomed the slopes, and taught lessons to beginners and aspiring ski jumpers. Granlibakken is truly where the Rustad family made their mark in Tahoe.

Rusty and Marion’s daughter, Binth Rustad, today makes her home in Nantucket, far from the ski slopes of Granlibakken. However, she remembers her time at Granlibakken fondly, and says, “My heart is right there at Tahoe. It always will be. That’s where my earliest memories are—the smell of the air and the land, that’s where I’m grounded. Those are my roots. Even though I wasn’t born there, it’s where my earliest memories are. It was a special time that I treasure dearly.”

Tahoe History

Marion at Squaw Valley

Binth’s mother and father, Marion and Kjell “Rusty” Rustad, first met on a trans-Atlantic voyage  Marion, who hailed from Poughkeepsie, NY, was taking the voyage to Europe for a pleasure trip with some family and friends. En route she met Rusty, who was first mate on the Scandinavian ship line they were on.  By the time that they had gotten to Norway, Marion and Rusty were in love. They married the same year that they met, Marion relocating to Oslo in December of 1937.  While Rusty worked an additional year on the same line that they met on and was away often, Marion became fluent in Norwegian and fell in love with Norway.  To shorten the time spent apart, Rusty become an officer on Hurtigruten line, Norway’s coastal express service, and they relocated to Stokmarknes, on one of the islands north of the Arctic Circle. Marion stayed there and Rusty commuted to Tromso when he was on duty.

Marion and Rusty lived in Norway for a few years. When Norway surrendered to the Germans during WWII in 1940, Rusty was working in Tromso. He gave Marion 24 hours to get rid of all their possessions, including their dog and car. In those 24 hours, Marion also had to get across the fjords to Tromso where he had secured passage on a Red Cross ship leaving for England.  Their daring escape from Norway is a story in itself-the ship they were on was shot down by German bombers. As they were loading into a lifeboat, it capsized, leaving the Rustads exposed to the bombers, who used the heads of those stranded in the icy water as target practice. They were fortunately rescued by passengers in other lifeboats, and then by a British destroyer—extremely lucky considering not only the threat of the German bombers, but also the freezing temperature of the water near the Arctic Circle.

Tahoe history

Rusty ski jumping

After escaping Norway, Marion and Rusty made their way to New York. They stayed with Marion’s mother in Nantucket for a brief time before moving west to San Francisco. Rusty got his US citizenship and at the start of the war found work as a supply officer. He worked alongside Marion’s brother, who was a navigator for PanAM, ferrying supplies from Treasure Island to U.S. troops in Hawaii.  Binth, their daughter, was born in Oakland, but it wouldn’t be long until the Rustads relocated to North Lake Tahoe.

Wayne Poulson, who later became the founder of Papoose Mountain and Squaw Valley, was a pilot for PanAm, and spoke often to Rusty about the splendor of the Sierras-beautiful mountains encircling Lake Tahoe. According to Binth, Marion and Rusty “made their way up and decided that was where they wanted to live,” settling in North Lake Tahoe just a year and a half later. The mountains and the lake spoke to Rusty-marrying two of his passions, ski jumping and sailing.

The Rustads spent the summer in Kings Beach, which was a popular boating community at the time, while house hunting in North Lake Tahoe. Rusty purchased a sailboat the next year, The Polaris, to interest people in sailing lessons on Lake Tahoe. Rusty was never a fan of motor boats, and played a major role in re-introducing sailing to Lake Tahoe. He chose a sturdy boat with a heavy keel, “you couldn’t tip her over,” Binth recalls, unlike Henry Kaiser’s catamaran, which once overturned in a strong gust on Lake Tahoe.

The Polaris

The Polaris sail boat

Binth describes sailing in The Polaris on Lake Tahoe, “The wind usually picked up by noon.  You could hear the trees up the canyon past the big jump [at Granlibakken] start to murmur and it was sailing time.  A couple of times during the summer, my parents would take a day off from work and sail across the Lake to Secret Harbor, usually with a couple of friends.  We’d spend most of the day visiting Od, who was caretaking in the summer and who worked for us in the winter. The water [at Secret Harbor] was warmer, there was sand instead of pebbles and giant boulders one could climb and jump from one to another, out into the Lake.  Sailing back was tricky.  If the wind died down, then my father was forced to start the tiny outboard, which he hated, and we’d slowly make headway, hoping for more wind.”

Shortly after moving to North Tahoe, the Rustads moved into their first home in Tahoe Park, on Lake Tahoe’s west shore. The Polaris was anchored off-shore beside Sunnyside. Binth attended school in Tahoe City, and her memories are of long summer and winter afternoons spent in the mountains and in the woods.

Lake Tahoe History

Marion and Binth on The Polaris on Lake Tahoe.

Binth lived in Tahoe City, spending her time outdoors as much as possible, until her parents divorced when she was 10 years old. Tahoe City at that time was a small, tight-knit community of about 500 people. The closest “supermarket” was in Truckee, with the larger stores in Reno over an hours’ drive away on single lane highway. The elementary school was small, sometimes having to combine grades to make up sufficient class sizes. Marion, a former elementary school teacher, was actively involved in the PTA, and even gave Binth lessons at home prior to starting first grade. As a credit to this tight-knit community, Binth has remained friends with some of her elementary school pals. The local community really stretched from Kings Beach to Meeks Bay, with Tahoe City being a central hub for people to gather, shop, and go to school.

In 1947, Rusty leased the land that the Granlibakken ski area is now situated on, and gave the ski area its name, “Granlibakken,” fitting for the north-facing slope sheltered by towering pine and fir trees.  He cleared the slope for a ski hill and for a junior jump. The log Ski Hut constructed with logs harvested from the ski hill is still in use today, and continues to provide a gathering place for skiers to warm up on a winter day.

The Ski Hut also acted as the center of activity for the ski hill--a Jukebox was installed that allowed music to be played over the slopes, and Rusty and Marion sometimes entertained in the Ski Hut after-hours. Binth remembers, "As a teenager and adult, the ski hut was also a place to hang out at the end of the day, whether my step-brothers and I had been teaching skiing or just visiting. There were usually a lot of people around, talking, listening to music and even dancing.  I was taught to polka one night, whirling around the fireplace by one of the family members of a dance troupe from San Francisco."

Granlibakken Ski History

The weasel, which was used to transport guests to Granlibakken Tahoe before a road was built.

Binth Rustad describes growing up in Tahoe City at Granlibakken as idyllic—she would spend summers at Lake Tahoe and on the Truckee River, fishing for minnows off the Sunnyside pier while Rusty taught sailing. Occasionally, she would tube in the Truckee River, just a quarter mile from the Granlibakken Ski Hill.  Winters were consumed by skiing at The Granlibakken ski area and Squaw Valley. Binth also spent winters helping her parents at Granlibakken, greeting people at the hut and telling them how to ski while whizzing by, which may not have always been appreciated, coming from a 6 yr old. However, people were good sports-Binth remembers that most laughed and some listened.

Binth describes Granlibakken in its early years as a fairly bare-bones operation. A couple of rope tows, the old Olympic jump, a novice jumping area, a pond, the ski lodge, a duplex and their home made up the property. Once the structures were built, the Rustads lived in one—Binth describes it as basically a good size living room & kitchen area overlooking the ski slope where most of the living took place. The rest of the house contained a large bedroom and small nook in the corner where she slept, and one bathroom. It was fine living quarters for a small family, and the location overlooking the Granlibakken ski area couldn’t be beat.

Tahoe History

The duplex, built to accommodate seasonal visitors

Marion, Binth’s mother, worked hard to keep Granlibakken operating. In the fall, she would calculate how much food, paper products, and essentials would be needed for the ski hut during the winter.  Binth, Rusty, and Marion  would all make the 2+ hour trek to Reno to pick up food and supplies for the winter—going to the butcher to purchase ground beef that Marion made into patties and froze for hungry skiers, and also purchasing enough plates, cutlery, and provisions to last the winter. Marion managed the ski hut—even acting as the cook and cleaner in the early days. The Ski Hut was known for its Toas-Tites, a sort of sealed hot sandwich—perfect after a day of skiing. Binth described the Toas-Tite machine, “The top flipped up—two pieces of white bread filled with cheese and or chili on the bottom rounded bowl shape. Bring the top down, plug it in, and the heat toasts and seals it all around like around pocket sandwich.” How satisfying does that sound after a day of skiing?

Marion was also in charge of cleaning and caring for the duplex that was rented out to seasonal visitors, and Binth recalls helping her make beds and clean toilets for incoming visitors. She says, “Bunk beds are not easy to make and hospital corners were mandatory.” Marion ran the operation like “a well-oiled machine,” Binth remembers.

Marion also helped to get Granlibakken some recognition near and far—she wrote press releases, designed ads, and designed flags that introduced visitors to this small resort on the shores of Lake Tahoe. The first ski resorts in the region were up at Donner Summit, and many Bay Area winter visitors didn’t make the trek down to lake level. Marion, through her press efforts, played a part in changing that and was a part of the effort in putting Lake Tahoe on the map as a winter destination.

Tahoe ski history

Rusty, in the center, at the Granlibakken Ski Area.

While Marion worked in the ski hut, duplexes, and as Granlibakken’s one-woman marketing department, Rusty managed the ski hill operations. The first year or two he picked up skiers at the highway in the Weasel, which was an old snowcat machine with tracks from WWII. In later years, once a road to the property was made, he plowed the Granlibakken road, groomed the hill, had floodlights installed for the ice-skating pond onsite, and taught ski and ski jumping lessons. The Rustads dammed up the creek on property to make a pond for ice-skating but it was difficult to keep the snow off the ice; Binth says she recalls one high school skating night party during her time at Granlibakken, but the pond was often at the mercy of the weather.

Rusty was also in charge of fixing the rope tow machines or re-splicing the rope when it frayed. He oversaw and was very involved in the daily operations of the hill-from daily maintenance to guest relations.  Rusty often became friends with visitors frequenting Granlibakken’s slopes—inviting them to hang out on the house deck or in the ski hut after hours. Binth remembers a few repeat visitors who became friends with the Rustads.

The Rustads were busy people, and it was always a treat for Binth to spend some time with her parents, especially her father, who was often busy outside—on the ski slopes or teaching sailing. She says, “Since Rusty and Marion were always busy during the day, it was a treat when Rusty had to run an errand into Tahoe City and would take me.  We’d go to the post office and he’d chat, and then move on to find whatever he needed, but always chatting and sharing stories.  I was just proud to be with my 'pa' as he liked to be called. He knew everyone in town.” She also treasures the times that she had the opportunity to ski with her busy father, saying, “I would try to make the big sweeping graceful turns like he did but with my much smaller skis, never quite succeeding but feeling so proud of doing something with him.”

Tahoe ski history

Rusty, "waiting for business" at Granlibakken

Granlibakken was always a smaller ski area, but it had memorable character and charm. Rusty was quite a character and it showed when he wasn’t working. Before a jumping tournament at what was then called the “Olympic Hill”, Rusty lead with an exhibition jump wearing a hula skirt and lei.  Binth remembers skiing on Easter, which the Rustads turned into a spring skiing celebration. Skiers would flock to the slopes, dressed in wild costumes and crazy hats, to ski easy races in the warm spring weather. The Easter celebration played into Marion’s love of theater—Binth remembers the many carefully and artfully crafted Halloween costumes that her mother made for her over the years. She won costume competitions in the local parade a couple of times. A couple of costumes that stand out in Binth’s mind were an authentic Norwegian outfit and a medieval princess costume. Marion passed her love of dressing up to Binth—Binth still enjoys a fun hat, or dressing up in costume.

Easter wasn’t the only holiday that The Rustads worked. They rarely had true leisure time, and worked hard to make Granlibakken a successful and sustainable operation. Binth remembers going out into the woods around Christmastime to pick out a tree, “I would be sent out to scout the hills for a good tree for our house.  At the end of the day, when my father had time, we’d go off to see what I had found, a saw hanging over his shoulder. Most often, we’d come back with a tree for us and others marked to give to family and friends.  After I had moved East with my mother and was in boarding school in Maine, I received a tree wrapped like a mummy in old parachutes from Stead Air Force Base in Reno to remind me of ‘home.’” The Rustads, so as not to interfere with Christmas ski business, always celebrated their Norwegian Christmas on Christmas Eve.

Skiing—both cross-country and downhill, was the winter sport of choice for youngsters in Tahoe at that time. The elementary school would head up to the mountain twice per week—the beginners heading to Granlibakken to practice their turns on the smaller slopes. Once they were more practiced they would ski at Squaw. Binth describes the Lake Tahoe Ski Club as a very serious and focused club, churning out racers and jumpers who competed on national and sometimes international stages.  Tahoe City families were hard working and it was a sacrifice to take time off to drive their families somewhere.  Binth remembers her mother taking her to ski meets in South Tahoe, Yosemite, Mammoth, and Sugar Bowl while her father stayed at Granlibakken to manage the daily operations of the resort.

Tahoe ski history

Binth hanging out at the Granlibakken ski hut after a big snow.

Binth doesn’t even remember learning to ski—she has been skiing since she was two years old. She learned to ski before she even had mastered walking. Her father used to tell a story—Binth, as a young child, was showing off, going fast down Granlibakken slopes. There used to be a huge tree in the bottom-center of the slope, and during spring skiing, Binth was schussing and despite the warming, she hit soft snow. Her skis stopped, but she didn’t—causing her to fall head first right into the deep snow of the tree-well under the tree, in front of everyone at Granlibakken. It always made Rusty laugh to recount that story.

The skis that they used back then were big—there was no snowplowing. She remembers when she was older, at the height of 5’3”, her skis were a full 12” taller than she was. Old habits die hard—Binth says that she still gets nervous on shorter, lighter skis-she feels more confident with heavier skis.

Rusty even had a pair of 12’ jumping skis that he kept around—huge wooden skis. Rusty competed in ski jumping in Norway, and went on to share his ski jumping knowledge with aspiring young competitors in Tahoe. Binth has visited the jump in Oslo where Rusty competed in the 30s and 40s, with the entire city spread out below the jump.

Tahoe Ski History

Rusty teaching technique to a young ski jumper on the novice jump at Granlibakken.

Granlibakken did have 2 ski jumps onsite in the 40s through the 60s. Although Binth was never very into jumping, it was a popular area for the Lake Tahoe Ski Club to practice, and a novice jump onsite was a great place for young skiers to learn techniques. In 1952, Granlibakken was the host to the Junior Ski Jumping Tournament hosted by the National Ski Area Association. Binth competed once in a local ski jumping meet. She won 10th place, and received a ribbon, but she preferred making turns rather than flying through the air. She recalls that her step-brothers, Rusty’s children with his second wife Jeanette, were very good ski jumpers.

Tahoe City’s early full-time settlers were a self-sufficient group of people, and Binth was no different. She says of growing up at Granlibakken, “It was great, I loved it—you come home from school, I was an only child and my parents were very busy, so I’d be out there on my skis or climbing around up in the hills when the rope tow wasn’t working. It was a great place to be a kid-we had the Truckee River so we could go tubing. We had the lake where my father would teach sailing.  My dog would go everywhere with me when I explored the hills and found natural tree forts.” There were deer paths, and the only roads were the forest service roads including the one Rusty enlarged when he built the bridge across the Truckee.

Tahoe ski history

Looking down the slope at the Granlibakken Ski Area.

Binth has fond memories year-round of her time at Granlibakken. From skiing down the slopes to tubing on the Truckee River, she says she wouldn’t trade her childhood for anything. There was the freedom to be a kid, get into scrapes and learn how to get out of them in the woods around Granlibakken. Granlibakken today still holds that charm—although a bit more supervised. In the winter months, it becomes a winter wonderland and place where families flock to enjoy the snow and each other. In the summer months, the hiking trails and access to the outdoors make it the perfect place for families and groups alike to bond and to explore. Many things have changed over the years, but one thing remains the same—Granlibakken is still a special place, where fond memories are made no matter the season.

Join us in celebrating 95 years of family fun at Granlibakken Tahoe. Click here for details.

Keep in touch! Click here to sign up for our email list, and be the first to know about deals, events, and more!

This blog is part of a series that looks back on skiing at Granlibakken Tahoe through the years, commemorating 95 years of winter fun at Granlibakken, which has been used as a winter recreation area since 1922. These blogs are based on interviews with people who have memories of skiing at Granlibakken. 

Do you have memories about Granlibakken Tahoe? We would love to hear them, you can share your memories by commenting below.

Here are links to other blogs that may interest you: 

Read: Learning to Ski with Rusty at Granlibakken Tahoe

Read: Granlibakken: The West Shore's Playground

Read: Kjell "Rusty" Rustad, a Sailor on Skis

Read: Olympic History at Granlibakken Tahoe


 

Steve Topol’s family relocated from Reno up to Tahoe in the mid-50s. Their house was conveniently located

on Cathedral Street, in the same neighborhood as the Granlibakken Ski Area, and Steve has fond memories of spending his free time in Granlibakken’s 74 acre valley during the winter and summer seasons.

Tahoe ski history

Steve Topol's family on the deck of their Cathedral Street house in 1959. From the left: Sister Lenell, mom Lillian, nephew Gary, sister Renee, nephew Doug, father Sidney. Steve is on the far left, standing.

Steve remembers skiing at Granlibakken between the years of 1957-59, when he was about 7-10 years old. It was a great place to learn, he says, with a small bunny slope for beginners where the sled hill now is, and the larger, steeper hill with a rope tow and a Poma lift to the top. Steve took one lesson from Kjell “Rusty” Rustad, the owner and developer of Granlibakken. Rusty hailed from Norway and was an avid skier and sailor who made his home in Tahoe City. He first developed Granlibakken as a commercial ski resort in 1947, and gave the hill its name, which means “hill sheltered by fir trees”

Tahoe Ski History

Rusty, who helped keep ski jumping alive at Lake Tahoe, on the Junior Jump at Granlibakken

Steve remembers Rusty as friendly and a good teacher, but strict and to the point. He describes Rusty as a good businessman, “He ran a tight ship. A lot of people in the community worked over at Granlibakken for him.” Steve took his remaining group lessons at Granlibakken with one of Rusty’s employees. Although Steve can’t remember his name, he remembers learning to ski under this young ski instructor’s tutelage at Granlibakken. Steve remembers cruising down the hill on his hand-me-down 210 Head Masters with Marker bindings—huge skis for a young skier.

The Ski and Sled Hill during Steve’s time was fairly basic—the same hill that still operates today, with a bunny ski slope where the current sledding area is. There was a Poma lift on the left side of the slope, and a rope tow to the very top of the hill on the right. On the far left was a ski jump, where Olympic hopefuls and competitors practiced. Although this jump wasn’t being used for competitions while Steve skied at Granlibakken, there were still a few locals, namely the Bechdolts (Carl and Pop), who helped coach aspiring ski jumpers. Steve never attempted the jump in his huge hand-me-down skis; the rope tow was enough for him.

Historic Ski Hill

The Granlibakken Ski Hill circa 1950s-60s

Steve and his siblings stuck to the rope tow, at first going up just halfway, and then to the top. Steve describes it, “If you were really courageous, you would go to the top—but you would have to be brave.” The rope tow could be hard to get a grip on, and once to the top, the ski hill was fairly steep. Although Granlibakken was known as the beginner hill, Steve remembers the steepness of the top of the hill being a bit intimidating.

In fact, everyone in Steve’s family skied at Granlibakken. He describes the progression of a typical Tahoe City skier at that time—learn at Granlibakken, graduate to Papoose (which was owned and operated by the Poulsons, where the lower slopes of Squaw Valley are today), and finally, up to Squaw One. Granlibakken’s hill was actually steeper than Papoose, but Squaw was more bustling, with the ski jumps and a ski lodge to hang out in.

However, getting to Squaw was a bit of a drive, which was a deterrent for busy families. Granlibakken’s slopes were practically right outside of Steve’s door. He and his brother would walk up Cathedral Road with their ski gear, head up the path to the top of the ski hill (now a fire road), and ski right down to the base of the hill, lapping the Granlibakken hill all day.

Tahoe Ski History

A photo of junior ski jumping champions in 1939 standing in front of the historic Tahoe Inn, which is now owned by Steve Topol, who operates the Blue Agave Restaurant out of the building.
L to R: Richard Carnell, Pete Vanni, Carl Bechdolt, Jr. and Bill Bechdolt

Granlibakken wasn’t just a winter destination for Steve and his family—they also had a blast on the property in the summertime. The road at the top of the ski hill was perfect for horseback riding—and a convenient loop could be made from the stables, where Tahoe City Lumber is now located, up to Paige Meadows, and then back through town and to his house on Cathedral. Steve also rode his go-cart around the property in his early teens, before he could legally drive. The Cal-Alumni Center that was located there had a campy vibe, and the valley that Granlibakken is tucked away in was perfect for exploring.

Steve has remained in the Tahoe Area, raising his own family here. He now owns the Blue Agave, formerly the Tahoe Inn, in Tahoe City. He purchased the historic property from Pop Bechdolt, who helped judge the ski jumping competitions at Granlibakken Tahoe. Today the Blue Agave is a staple in the Tahoe City downtown—serving up delicious margaritas with gorgeous lake views.

Looking back at his time spent in the area, Steve says of Granlibakken, “It’s always been a landmark for people who lived around here.” Throughout Granlibakken’s 95 years of winter fun—starting in 1922 as a winter recreation area and all the way up to today as a resort, conference center, lodge, and ski area, Granlibakken has been making memories for generations.

 

Join us in celebrating 95 years of family fun at Granlibakken Tahoe. Click here for details.

Keep in touch! Click here to sign up for our email list, and be the first to know about deals, events, and more!

This blog is part of a series that looks back on skiing at Granlibakken Tahoe through the years, commemorating 95 years of winter fun at Granlibakken, which has been used as a winter recreation area since 1922. These blogs are based on interviews with people who have memories of skiing at Granlibakken. 

Do you have memories about Granlibakken Tahoe? We would love to hear them, you can share your memories by commenting below.

Here are links to other blogs that may interest you: 

Read: Learning to Ski with Rusty at Granlibakken Tahoe

Read: Kjell "Rusty" Rustad, a Sailor on Skis

Read: Olympic History at Granlibakken Tahoe


 

 

forest-bathingWhen you walk into the forest, do you see a city of trees? Or do you see an ecosystem teeming with life both observable and microscopic? What you might not recognize immediately is the healing power of the forest—as a place to foster deeper connections with your sense of self, with the world at large, and with Mother Earth to arrive at a harmonious state of physical and mental well-being.

The healing art of forest-bathing, or shinrin-yoku, has been proven to improve focus and productivity, increase happiness, and boost immunity. In Japan, the healing power of forest-bathing is recognized as such a crucial part of mental and physical health that it was implemented as a part of their public health program in 1982. It is shown that spending time inhaling the phytoncides, or essential oils emitted by trees and plant life can help to improve immune system function as well as mood and overall well-being.

When was the last time that you took a break from work, or consciously stepped outside to spend time amongst the trees, to clear your mind and let nature revive and rejuvenate your soul? Whether it is just for 15 minutes or a few hours, studies have shown that time spent in the forest--breathing the air and enjoying the peaceful setting--can greatly improve mental and physical health.

Ashley Aarti Cooper, a yoga instructor and shinrin-yoku guide, says, “The principles of shinrin-yoku have really helped my clients become connected to their shinrin-yokubodies, and the internal and external environments they inhabited. They reported greater presence, reduction in feelings of anxiety, better pain management, and an overall sense of well-being." She stresses the distinction between endurance or destination hiking and full immersion in the forest. Taking the time to contemplate your natural surroundings while enjoying the scenery, the smells, and the feel of the forest helps to focus the mind and rejuvenate the body.

As a physical, spiritual, and mental practice, Ashley says that "[Shinrin-yoku] puts everything in perspective when you see yourself as a being that is meant to be a part of the natural world. Take your shoes off, take your time, lean against an old tree and close your eyes in the sunshine. Just listen. Smell the cedars, taste the wood-mint, splash your face in a stream. Remember that you are just one tiny human with one fleeting life, and enjoy the freedom that comes with that knowledge."

When we examine our place in the natural world, the forest is both humbling and invigorating. Humans naturally belong in this landscape. By taking the time to unplug and immerse yourself in the calming presence of the forest, you can achieve the healing benefits of the outdoors that our ancestors have enjoyed for generations. So go ahead, and indulge yourself in a healing forest-bath. Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you.

Enjoy a forest-bathing experience with Ashley Aarti Cooper at the upcoming Restorative Arts and Yoga Festival, June 1-3, 2018. The full weekend of events is just $289. Learn more here.

Keep in touch! Click here to sign up for our email list, and be the first to know about deals, events, and more!


 

 

Why Do We Drum?

by Liz Broscoe aka: Drumchik

Liz Broscoe is a professional drummer/percussionist, author, adjunct faculty at Lake Tahoe Community College, teaching artist for schools and at-risk youth, and a corporate team building facilitator. Through her drumming programs, she continues to inspire others throughout the Tahoe/Truckee/Reno and Carson Valley areas. Learn more at www.drumchik.com or call Liz at: 530-318-2330.

 

We drum because it’s fun! That is a given. There is something very rewarding about the sound, feel, effort and the unifying experience created within a community drum circle. I am a long time professional drum set player, but this all-inclusive communal drumming I am referring to is very different than playing in a band focused more on entertainment.

Current research shows that specialized group drumming provides many health, wellness and therapeutic benefits. Experiencing steady, rhythmic drumming improves cognitive brain function – increasing our ability to hold attention and focus. This is so good for kids and adults these days with all of our technology pulling our attention everywhere.

Drumming increases cancer fighting white blood cells in the immune system, decreases stress, anxiety, blood pressure and pain. It is a “Whole Brain” activity that provides the rare experience of activating and balancing both sides of the brain simultaneously. Consequently, drumming can benefit people dealing with Cancer, Parkinson’s, stroke, PTSD and many other conditions.

In her book, “When the Drummers Where Women”, Layne Redmond expressed that it is our primordial desire to get back to our roots of drumming. Archeological findings confirm that many cultures have drummed since ancient times.
Drumming is fascinating to me. As a professional drummer of nearly four decades and an educator/facilitator for the last twenty years, I am continually inspired and motivated in helping my students gain a deeper understanding of themselves through drumming.

From at-risk kids to adults, whether I facilitated in schools, juvenile treatment centers or at corporate team building events, I continue to enjoy the challenge and rewards of bringing folks together collectively and communally in mind, body and spirit through drumming.
From a science point of view, our ancestors did not understand why they drummed, but they certainly knew intuitively.

Yes, it’s super fun, but now we know it is also really good for us!!

Drum On!

 

 

Discounted lodging is available onsite at Granlibakken Tahoe. The full weekend of events is just $276 when booked prior to February 28. Prices go up on March 1. Learn more here.

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The second annual Restorative Arts and Yoga Festival (RAY) will be taking place from June 1-3, 2018. RAY will feature a three day program of health and wellness workshops designed for yogis of all abilities. The retreat is hosted at Granlibakken Tahoe, as a part of their Sierra Soul Series of Wellness Events. Granlibakken Tahoe is a retreat center, resort, and conference center located in the heart of a 74 acre wooded valley, just steps from Tahoe City and Lake Tahoe. Instructors for RAY are all based out of the Truckee/Tahoe region, creating a vibrant festival that highlights Tahoe’s thriving wellness community.

Early-bird discounted pricing is available for RAY 2018. The full weekend of events—three days of workshops, meals, and social hours, is just $276 when booked prior to February 28. On March 1, the price goes up to $289 for the weekend. Classes and workshops can also be purchased individually. Discounted lodging at Granlibakken Tahoe is also available—allowing for an immersive weekend of well-being in the Sierras.

Restorative Arts and Yoga Festival

Final Schedule Released:

The final schedule for RAY has been released. Building off of the schedule for the 2017 event, RAY 2018 will feature more social hours, two additional interactive group performances—drumming and aerial flow arts, and an all-new Shakti Space. The Shakti Space is designed to be a creative space, where attendees are invited to partake in activities independently of an instructor, or to simply relax in the midst of the festival.

New Speakeasy sessions will offer informal sessions between workshops, where attendees can gather to discuss a topic or create something that they can take home with them—whether it be a written mantra or a relaxation technique. The expanded Vendor Fair on Saturday will also give attendees the opportunity to purchase local goods and services—from jewelry to massage sessions.

The schedule for RAY includes daily workshops, with three tracks of classes. Workshops are designed for yogis and health practitioners of all abilities. The workshops feature a wide range of topics—from Acroyoga to Yin Restorative Yoga. The popular shinrin-yoku forest-bathing meditative hike will be offered again, as well as Kundalini Yoga and Sound Healing meditation. The RAY program is designed to complement the natural surroundings of Granlibakken Tahoe. The indoor and outdoor workshops and social hours pay homage to the mountain valley that the resort is nestled in.

Restorative Arts and Yoga Festival Tahoe

Workshop Leader Lineup:

The instructor bios for RAY have just been released. With a diverse group of workshop leaders-ranging from local yoga instructors to massage therapists and energy workers, the instructors have been carefully selected to present a diverse array of wellness modalities, capitalizing on the expertise found in North Lake Tahoe. RAY offers ample opportunity to learn, grow, and practice under the tutelage of some of the Tahoe region’s best wellness practitioners.

Discounted lodging is available onsite at Granlibakken Tahoe. The full weekend of events is just $276 when booked prior to February 28. Prices go up on March 1. Learn more here.

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Tahoe ski history

The Tahoe Tavern Ski Jump, constructed with the help of Lars Haugen

With the 2018 Winter Olympic Games starting today, we are looking back on Olympic history here at Granlibakken Tahoe.

Granlibakken's first foray into winter sports began in 1922, when it was called "Ski Canyon" and used as a winter recreation area by locals. In 1926, The Tahoe Tavern, located a half-mile from Ski Canyon, stayed open for its first winter season. The "Snowball Special" run by Southern Pacific Railroad transported guests from Sacramento and San Francisco to the Tahoe Tavern, where they would take a horse-drawn sleigh the half-mile to Ski Canyon.

In the early days of ski competitions, jumping was hugely popular. As a spectator sport, it was adrenaline-inducing and easy to understand-important for a sport that so few were able to participate in. Prior to the construction of resorts, rope tows, chairlifts, and modern skis, many spectators had never been on a set of skis--but they understood ski jumping. Recognizing the attraction that a ski jump would be, the owner of the Tahoe Tavern, lumber and mining magnate D.L. Bliss, appropriated $3,000 to a ski jump. The jump was built in 1929 under the supervision of Lars Haugen, a celebrity in the ski jumping world, and a professional ski jump consultant. The jump constructed by Lars Haugen and his team was used for ski jumping exhibitions, and put Lake Tahoe as well as California as a whole on the map for ski jumping and winter recreation.

Tahoe Ski History

The Lake Tahoe Ski Club

With the development of this new ski area, the California Chamber of Commerce lobbied for Ski Canyon, which was renamed Olympic Hill in the late 1920s, to be the site of the 1932 Winter Olympics. The 1932 Summer Olympics were held in Los Angeles, and it seemed logical that the Winter Olympics also be held in California. However, years of promoting Southern California's sunny and warm climate now worked against this goal. The Winter Olympics were awarded to Lake Placid, NY, as the Olympic Committee did not believe that California had the snow to host the winter games.

Despite losing the bid for the 1932 Winter Olympics, Olympic Hill (formerly Ski Canyon) was the site of a dual meet in February 1931. This meet was the Olympic Ski Jumping Trials, and also served as California's first ski jumping state championships. It is estimated that about 3,000 people attended the event-the largest crowd to meet at Lake Tahoe up until that time.

Olympic Hill had another win in 1932--due to the hard work of Wilber Maynard, who served as manager of the Southern Pacific Hotel in Truckee and was the western vice president of the National Ski Area Association (NSAA). Maynard convinced members of the NSAA to host the 1932 National Ski Jumping Championships at Olympic Hill February 26-28, 1932-directly following the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. Showing the members of the NSAA photos of the ski jump at Olympic Hill and arguing that California does indeed have snow, Maynard managed to convince the committee. The National Ski Jumping Championship was awarded to the Lake Tahoe Ski Club, to be held at Olympic Hill. This Ski Jumping Championship was notable-it was the first to be held west of the Rockies, and is to this day the only National Ski Jumping Championship held in California.

Tahoe Ski History

Before start of Women's 30 K race
February 26, 1932

At the National Ski Jumping Championship, over 200 competitors representing 109 ski clubs from around the nation competed. Cross-country ski races around the 74 acre wooded valley were also held, and women's ski jumping exhibitions were hosted at the jump. Sigrid Stromstad, a strong downhill and cross-country skier as well as a local celebrity in the Tahoe region for her athletic talent and her helpful ski lessons offered to Tahoe Tavern guests, jumped and competed in the cross-country ski championships.

Between 1932 and 1936, Olympic Hill was selected to host three California Ski Jumping Championships, and held a number of other tournaments hosted by the Lake Tahoe Ski Club. Many of these tournaments drew the leading ski jumpers at the time, and huge crowds.

In 1939, the Lake Tahoe Ski Club further developed the hill, building a rope tow, a more robust warming hut, and a 1,000 foot jump. However, WWII all but stopped all ski jumping competitions in the region. After the war, in 1947, a Norwegian ski jumper, sailor, and graduate of the Royal Norwegian Naval Academy, Kjell "Rusty" Rustad, assumed operations of Olympic Hill. Renaming the area to "Granlibakken," which means "a hill sheltered by fir trees" in Norwegian, Rusty maintained the jumps--including a novice jump on Granlibakken grounds. In 1952, the Junior National Ski Jumping Championship was held at Granlibakken.

Tahoe Ski History

Rusty, who helped keep ski jumping alive at Lake Tahoe, on the Junior Jump at Granlibakken

Rusty also further developed the ski area-adding lodging, a warming hut with a snack bar, grooming, night skiing, and more rope tows to access the terrain. Despite larger resorts opening in the area, Granlibakken remained one of the foremost areas for ski jumping and was a great hill for novices to learn on before they moved on to the larger slopes.

Today, Granlibakken honors its history in this region. The 1960 Olympic Nordic Ski area was not far from Granlibakken at what is now Sugar Pine State Park, and Squaw Valley, host to the 1960 Winter Olympics, is just an eight mile drive from Granlibakken. Although Granlibakken itself never hosted the Olympics, a number of Olympic athletes and hopefuls have competed and practiced on the slopes.  The jumps are gone, and many of the legends only exist in memories, but Granlibakken still holds a special place in the Tahoe region as a historic resort where generations of locals and visitors alike have learned to ski, race, and jump on two planks.

This year, Granlibakken is celebrating 95 years of winter fun with 5 months of prizes, giveaways, and more.  Click here for details.

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This blog is part of a series that looks back on skiing at Granlibakken Tahoe through the years, commemorating 95 years of winter fun at Granlibakken, which has been used as a winter recreation area since 1922. These blogs are based on interviews with people who have memories of skiing at Granlibakken. 

Do you have memories about Granlibakken Tahoe? We would love to hear them, you can share your memories by commenting below.

Here are links to other blogs that may interest you: 

Read: Learning to Ski with Rusty at Granlibakken Tahoe

Read: Granlibakken: The West Shore's Playground

Read: Kjell "Rusty" Rustad, a Sailor on Skis


 

 

 

This blog is part of a series that looks back on skiing at Granlibakken Tahoe through the years, commemorating 95 years of winter fun at Granlibakken, which has been used as a winter recreation area since 1922. These blogs are based on interviews with people who have memories of skiing at Granlibakken. 

Do you have memories about Granlibakken Tahoe? We would love to hear them, you can share your memories by commenting below.

Here are links to other blogs that may interest you: 

Read: Kjell "Rusty" Rustad, a Sailor on Skis

Read: Olympic History at Granlibakken Tahoe

Read: Granlibakken Tahoe: The West Shore's Playground

Paul Rogers learned to ski under Kjell "Rusty" Rustad's tutelage, and shares his memories of Granlibakken Tahoe here.


Some things never change. Paul Rogers remembers learning to ski at Granlibakken—for many of the same reasons that people choose Granlibakken today. He says that learning to ski at Granlibakken in the 60s was the obvious choice because “other resorts are so big-it makes sense to start small.” Today, with affordable ticket prices and approachable terrain, Granlibakken remains a great ski area for families and beginners alike.

Learn to ski at Granlibakken

Paul Rogers with his brothers, working on their James Bond look at the Granlibakken Ski Hill.

One thing has changed since the days that Paul and his brothers whizzed down the Granlibakken slopes on their 200cm Head skis—Rusty is no longer offering lessons. Kjell “Rusty” Rustad, a Norwegian skier and sailing enthusiast, first developed Granlibakken as a stand-alone ski resort, building lodging onsite, expanding the existing ski area, and giving what was then known as Ski Canyon the name “Granlibakken,” which means “hill sheltered by fir trees” in Norwegian in 1947.

Paul describes Rusty as “demanding, but very interested in capturing the energy of the teenagers that he taught.” Learning to ski on long skis—200cm skis, the pupils learned to ski without the luxury of poles, gloves, and were required to keep a paper plate secured between their knees when learning under Rusty’s tutelage. The lack of poles and gloves encouraged better balance, and the paper plate encouraged what was considered good form—with legs close together to manage the huge skis. Paul says that even now, when he skis the slopes of Alpine Meadows with his brother, they will comment “You looked like Rusty going down that slope!” It was a distinct way of skiing, made necessary by the long skis and ingrained in the youth by Rusty’s firm teaching methods.

Ski at Granlibakken Tahoe

You can find Paul today skiing with his family at Squaw.

Rusty was also known for his jumping. He had set up jumps for various ability levels, and Granlibakken was known as the best place to learn to jump in the region. Paul’s twin, more of a daredevil, enjoyed this component of Granlibakken’s hill, but Paul describes “the rope tow might have been the scariest part of learning for me!” The original rope tow that Rusty constructed is gone, but in its place is a Poma platter lift, still a challenge but well worth the ride to the top of the hill.

Paul even remembers learning to drive on Granlibakken road. His father piled the family in their station wagon with snow tires, and told Paul that this was his opportunity to learn to drive in the winter. Typical of Sierra winters and small streets at the time, a lot of snow had fallen and Granlibakken Road had not been plowed. The station wagon got stuck a ways down the road, and the family had to wait until help came to get unstuck.

Paul describes Granlibakken as a rustic resort, fun for families, with memories being made all winter. He says “Rusty was quite the legend. Although he is gone, a lot of memories of him and Granlibakken live on through the people he taught.” Paul certainly has many memories of his time at Granlibakken, and of Rusty, the man who propelled Granlibakken into local fame. For generations, people have learned to ski and ride at this modest hill, making memories and sharing laughter and good times. This tradition continues today, and although some of the local legends have passed on, their memory lives on.

Join us in celebrating 95 years of family fun at Granlibakken Tahoe. Click here for details.

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