SHAVER LAKE — Barreling down a snowy hill above Shaver Lake, two Fresno girls were all smiles.
On Saturday afternoon, Winter Her, 15, and Kluv Yang, 13, were reaping the benefits of the season's first snowy weekend.
In their first 20 minutes out of the car, they already had sledded down the hill 20 times.
Their favorite part? Crashing at the bottom.
The wipeouts are the only time you can get dirty and not get in trouble by your parents, Winter said between excited giggles.
"It's a beautiful thing to see," she said of the snow. "I feel free; just let everything out."
Recent storms made for a sunny, snow-covered Saturday in many parts of the Sierra Nevada, including at China Peak Mountain Resort.
After more than a month of making snow for skiers and snowboarders, Mother Nature took over the job at the resort with last week's snowfall.
There was about a foot and a half of snow at the summit Saturday afternoon, said Daniel Moxley, 24, a rental technician at the resort.
He was happy riding his snowboard down the mountain on Friday.
"It was so sweet," Moxley said. "It was so nice. We've been dying for this storm to hit us. I'm just so glad it finally came … A week ago you would go up the mountain and you'd see a big rock sticking out of the run or a brown patch, but now it's all fresh."
Also enjoying the new snow were Abby Powers, 5, and her dad, David, 34, of Fresno.
While holding onto her dad's hand, Abby said she was enjoying doing the "French fries" — keeping both skis straight ahead — while they headed together toward the chair lift Saturday afternoon.
"Today is by far the best day of the year," David Powers said, and he should know — he's already been to China Peak five times this season with his family.
Previously the slopes were "icy, crusty, slushy, spring-like." But not this weekend, he said: "Snow conditions are great and there's not a lot of people … Everybody up there is really happy."
Mountain business owners, like Greg Powell of Shaver Lake Sports, are keeping their fingers crossed for more snow in the coming weeks. The family-owned business sells and rents recreation equipment.
"Our winter in this store is about 50% of our yearly revenue and we just lost more than a third of our winter, so it's going to be a tough one," Powell said. "It's like getting your leg broken. We're going to limp but we're going to be all right … but, I don't know if everyone in town can say that."
National Weather Service readings from Kaiser Point, about 9,000 feet in elevation, recorded about 3 feet of snow Saturday. A chance of snow is expected in the area through tonight.
In Fresno, there is a chance of showers through tonight, but dry conditions with highs reaching the low 60s for the rest of the week.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6386, firstname.lastname@example.org or @CarmenGeorge on Twitter.