Sweet Summer Turns

Some people let go of winter without looking back, but splitboarder Claire Hewitt-Demeyer dreams of snow year-round. As sweltering summer temperatures swept into her home Sierra Nevada Range, she set off to escape the heat and celebrate the last vestiges of winter.

Slippery when wet! Claire Hewitt-Demeyer steers clear of frigid water. At least until she’s strapped in. Anthony Cupaiuolo

It takes a special kind of madness to haul a snowboard, camera gear and costumes through miles of scorching summer heat. But the lure of a hidden pond skim in the Sierra Mountains was irresistible. We set out with anticipation and excitement, our spirits high despite the sweltering temperatures. The hike itself was a visual feast. The Sierra’s majestic peaks and beautiful vistas provided a stunning backdrop for our slogging trek. When we finally reached the Fountain of Youth, the kool-aid blue water felt like a mirage come to life. Exhaustion vanished, replaced by sheer exhilaration. We were ready to ride. A quick wardrobe change later—costumes are a necessity for midsummer riding—and the fun began.

Who said pond skimming actually involved skimming? Claire Hewitt-Demeyer styles out over the Fountain of Youth. Anthony Cupaiuolo

Snowboarding in the middle of summer felt surreal. Surrounded by snowcapped peaks, we took turns gathering speed and skimming across the water, some gliding smoothly, others taking a refreshing, albeit unexpected, dip. Laughter echoed around the pond as we celebrated each success and comical wipeout. By 6 p.m., the dipping sun cast a golden hue over our makeshift playground. It was time to leave, but not before one last thrill: a 1500-foot descent that made every step of the climb worth it. We surfed turn after turn down soft Sierra snow before transitioning back to walking. Adrenaline still pumping from the ride down, we started the slow trek to the trailhead, our wet, heavy gear a minor inconvenience after an epic day. 

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs ends in self-actualization. Claire Hewitt-Demeyer self-actualizes with 1500 feet of hand drags and corn turns. Anthony Cupaiuolo

We reached our car at 11:30 p.m., tired but triumphant. We had covered 17 miles and 4500 feet of elevation. The adventure to the Fountain of Youth was everything we had hoped for and more. 

Now, with a heart full of memories and legs sore from the journey, I can finally put my snowboard away for the summer. Such an incredible experience with good friends makes that special madness worth every last drop.

Claire Hewitt-Demeyer calls South Lake Tahoe her splitboarding home. She is passionate about pushing herself on human-powered missions, always keeping the vibe positive and inspiring others to challenge themselves in the mountains.

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