Sunday, May 25, 2014

Best Hikes In Tahoe - Skunk Harbor, East Shore

Category - Moderate
View Rating - 7 out of 10
Distance - Approximately 3 miles round trip (As always on any hike of any distance, bring extra food, water, and clothes!)
Elevation Gain - 650 feet (Note that this hike descends first, then ascends on the return)
Highest Point - 6900 at the highway where you park

The beach at Skunk Harbor

Another great hike that is overlooked by the hiking guidebooks is the hike to Skunk Harbor. It follows an old, closed road from East Shore Hwy 28 down to a spectacular cove on the lake. Because the road is wide enough for people to walk side-by-side, and because the grade is gentle, it is a great hike for groups.
There is a small parking area on the highway 2.4 miles north of the intersection of Hwy 50 and Hwy 28 just below Spooner Summit. 
The trail is behind the gate. There is enough parking for 6 or 7 cars.

Although most people don’t know about this hike, if you want to get a parking space, you should get there in the morning (shoot for 9 a.m.) and you should avoid weekends. There is a space for six or seven cars. If they are all taken, you’ll have to find a place down the highway, and walking any distance along the highway is not recommended.
From the moment you step past the locked gate, you will see the spectacular views that are present on the entire hike. Much of the lake is spread out below you, and you will marvel at what you can see, especially if you bring binoculars. Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows and Homewood ski resorts are all in front of you across the lake.
Alpine Meadows on the left and Squaw Valley on the right.

The trail is wide enough for groups of people.

When you get down to the postcard-perfect harbor, you’ll find the old, dramatic remains of the George Newhall summer getaway. Newhall was a 1920’s playboy with great inherited wealth. He and his family had a large estate on the West Shore, but they wanted a play spot on the East Shore. There was no road to Skunk Harbor at the time. So they built their wonderful Skunk Harbor getaway with materials and labor all brought in by boat. Talk about Beach Party Heaven! You’ll have fun exploring the beach, the boulders, and the stone house, which is closed off, but you can peer into the windows and imagine what life must have been like for very wealthy Tahoe residents during the Roaring Twenties.
Those posts in the water used to hold up a large pier.

Nice little getaway cottage!

Note the outdoor fireplace

Plan to have your picnic lunch on the beach before you head back up to the highway. You will marvel at the clear water and the perfect little bay while you transport yourself back ninety years to another era.
Water doesn't get much more clear!

Here is the sand beach where the Newhalls used to party.

This is the next cove to the north.
The East Shore is full of these spectacular, secret places
that you can only get to by boat or by hiking.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Tahoe Ethos

Tahoe is about calm and lack of stress. We slow down when driving, give bicyclers wide berth, and we don’t honk except in emergency. Please leave your rush-rush city driving habits back home. When you tailgate, you transfer your stress to everyone else on the road. If it takes you another couple of minutes to get to your destination, consider it an opportunity to appreciate the beautiful surroundings.
Nothing better than ultimate calm for a Tahoe experience.
Photo Kim Small, Fine Art America

Tahoe is about healthy life-styles and respect for the environment. We don’t smoke in the forest (and when forest fire danger is high, it is illegal). Actually, we mostly don’t smoke at all. You’ll find a lower percentage of Tahoe locals who smoke than nearly anywhere. We don’t throw out anything that can be recycled. When we throw out something hazardous (batteries, electronics, etc.) we make a special trip to the hazardous waste facility. We don’t pour out any hazardous liquids like solvents or paint or used motor oil or old gasoline. And we regard people who dump any liquid more dangerous than water on the ground to be committing a grave sin. Whenever and wherever we go, we carry a bag or pack into which we can stick any litter we find and haul it out of the forest or off the beach.
PaddleBoarding is a wonderful way to enjoy the lake.
Photo Phyllis Watson

Tahoe is about quiet and enjoyment of nature. Please don’t feel like you need to “share” your music preferences with the entire neighborhood or show the whole world just how loud your motorboat or motorcycle can be. Nearly all Tahoe lovers would rather listen to the birds.
Nothing like quiet to connect with Mama Nature
Photo Nice Cool Pics Quiet Getaways

Tahoe is all about exercise. Whenever possible, we walk or bike instead of drive. Why drive to the beach, when you can bike or ride? Most lodgings in Tahoe are just a few blocks from the beach. A picnic carried in a backpack is more rewarding than one carried in the pickup. If you’re looking for something fun to do, take a tip from locals. We go on hikes or bike rides. When we’re not up on the mountain skiing, we snowshoe or cross-country ski out our door. There are hundreds of trails to choose from, and there are many books and internet resources to guide you. Gambling may be fun, but you can do that anywhere. It goes without saying that you will enjoy your vacation more, and feel better about it when you get home, if you get some exercise.
Get out and move. Your brain and body and friends and family will all thank you.
Photo Adventure Sports Journal

Sunday, May 11, 2014

8 Things To Know Before You Come To Tahoe

The perfect vacation starts with a reservation
Photo Squaw Valley Lodge

1) Think Reservations. If you come to Tahoe during the High Season months, July, August, Christmas Week, February, and March, plan on making your hotel and dinner reservations in advance for all days of the week. All of which suggests that the other times of the year are great times to enjoy Tahoe without the crowds (what we call the Shoulder Seasons).
In June, September, and early October, you may not need to plan your week days, but you will likely need hotel and dinner reservations for the weekends. I recommend keeping your schedule flexible and watching the forecast. If the weather is going to be beautiful at any time during the Shoulder Seasons, you can often come up the mountain and have a great time without any advance planning. October and the beginning of November often have great weather. May is often glorious. (And often snowy, too!) If you want skiing without crowds, plan on early December, all of January, or early April.  The Shoulder Seasons provide good deals on lodging, and you can have Tahoe to yourself.
The rest of the time, come armed with reservations and you’ll be happy.

Check out the Cedar House Sport Hotel

2) If at all possible, try NOT to drive into Tahoe on Friday afternoon or evening or drive out on Sunday, especially during the High Seasons of July, August, Christmas week, February and March. At those times, the highways can become choked with stop-and-stop traffic. And when a holiday falls on Monday, the bad time to leave Tahoe switches from Sunday to Monday. Whenever possible, try to adjust your weekend to the middle of the week! If that’s not possible, try to drive earlier on Friday morning and later on Sunday.
Are these people all trying to get to Tahoe?!
Photo 7 Reasons .org

3) Remember that many if not most of the people who will help you with your lodgings and your meals and your ski/bike/kayak rentals earn their money from tips. Their hourly pay is usually pretty bleak, and most of them try hard to make your experience in Tahoe a good one. Also, remember the staff in the shadows that you sometimes never see. When your maid does a nice job cleaning up your hotel room, please tip generously. A small amount for you is likely a large amount for them.
Tips make a resort area function
The Economist

4) Yes, Tahoe is all about casual, mountain living, but we still appreciate people who wear clothes. For lots of locals, dressing up means tucking your flannel shirt into your jeans. But when you get off the beach, please put on some shoes and shirt and shorts or pants before you descend on the grocery store and other shops.
Thanks for putting on some clothes before you head to the supermarket!

5) Remember that the most popular places in Tahoe are places to avoid on weekends, especially on Saturday. In the winter, the ski resorts are the most crowded on Saturday and the second-most crowded on Sunday. On summer weekends, this means stay away from Emerald Bay, Sand Harbor, most of the parks. Locals avoid anyplace in Tahoe City on weekends because its conjunction of three highways and its one-lane-each-way road and pedestrian-friendly crosswalks and its overall attractive charm slow traffic to a stop.
Sand Harbor is one of the places that gets really crowded on weekends
Photo TouringTahoe . wordpress .com

6) Take boat inspections seriously. If you are bringing a boat into the Tahoe Basin, please get it inspected before you bring it near any body of water. Our precious lake is suffering the indignity of multiple alien species of plants and animals all because careless people thought the intakes on their Jetskis or the centerboard channels on their sailboats were clean when they weren’t. Watch for Boat Inspection signs when you come into the basin. If you don’t see them, please look up the inspection locations online and get your watercraft inspected before you launch into any of our lakes. As an added incentive, if you are caught on any watercraft without a boat inspection permit, your pocketbook will be very unhappy with the ticket. Thank you in advance for your care about this.
Please get all watercraft inspected before you put them in the water.
It will save Lake Tahoe, and it's the law.
Photo TahoeBoatInspections .com

7) Bring hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen for your kids! We constantly see families with parents wearing hats and sunglasses while their little kids - often with blue eyes and blond hair - have no sun protection! 

The children are burning their retinas and skin, getting understandably irritable, often crying, and the parents scold them for being in a bad mood! It doesn’t matter if your kids don’t want to wear sun protection. You have to teach them that it is necessary, otherwise everyone will be miserable. In addition, early, high-altitude sun exposure substantially increases cancer risk in later life.
Suns protection can prevent a vacation disaster
Photo ToastCarsonTahoe .com

8) Be certain to actually see some of the sights that make Tahoe so great. Locals often bump into tourists who spent their entire Tahoe vacation in the casinos and restaurants. That’s not Tahoe. I have personally met people who came to Tahoe and never saw Emerald Bay, never went up on the mountain either by hiking or riding the gondola or cable car, never skied or rode a bike, never drove around the lake. Get out and do stuff. It will make your vacation a thousand times more enjoyable and memorable. Gambling is fun, but you can do it anywhere. Try on some of those experiences that you can only do in Tahoe. You’ll be very glad you did!
Just Another Day In Paradise
Photographer: Jim Stamates
Jim Stamates is one of Tahoe's most famous photographers. Click on the image, check out his work, and maybe buy a piece or two. And when you get to Tahoe, go visit some of the places you found on his website! It will make your vacation!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

What Happens To Tahoe's Sewage And Garbage - Especially Dog Waste?

Because Lake Tahoe is so pure and the Lake Tahoe Basin is ecologically fragile, all human sewage is first treated and then pumped out of the basin to be used for gray water elsewhere. The South Shore’s treated waste irrigates ranching country in Alpine County to the south. The North Shore’s treated waste goes to Douglas County, south east of the basin. Treated sewage from the northwest part of Tahoe (Tahoe City) is pumped out of the basin along side of the Truckee River to Truckee where it joins other waste treatment.
Tahoe’s solid garbage is split into two groups. An increasing portion is recycled. The remainder is trucked to landfills in Nevada.
But what about other waste like dog waste?

Yes, I know we have a lot of territory where dogs can run. What harm could a little doggie waste do? A lot, actually. There are no hard numbers on how many dogs live in Tahoe. But we can extrapolate.
The permanent population in Tahoe runs from about 50,000 people in the winter to 90,000 in the summer. Across America, there is roughly one dog for every four people. That would imply approximately 12,000 dogs during Tahoe’s winter, swelling to 22,000 dogs in the summer. 22,000 dogs produce approximately 11,000 pounds of feces a day. And that doesn’t count the dogs that tourists bring. Assuming the summer population lasts for three months, and the winter lasts for nine months, the total works out to 3,555,000 pounds of dog waste each year. Add the waste of dogs brought in by tourists, and we have something approaching two thousand tons of waste dumped onto our woods, our roads, our beaches every year.
That adds large amounts of fecal coliform bacteria into the environment. It also adds nutrients that feed a wide range of plants. When the bacteria and nutrients run off into the lake, it produces an explosion of algae, which in turn feed other creatures, both plant and animal. Two thousand tons of unintended fertilizer each year is a huge accelerator in the process of turning Lake Tahoe into a swamp, what scientists call eutrophication.
But what if everybody picked up their dog waste and put it in the garbage?
Giant problem solved! It would be trucked out of Tahoe to the landfill, where it could slowly break down far away from a pristine lake.
It is so easy to stuff clean-up bags in your pocket when you walk your dog. And it would make such a difference.

Let’s all be responsible dog owners and Tahoe lovers and clean up after our dogs.