The last float of the year

Tim Hauserman

The Truckee River’s clear running water is perfect for a swim, a float or just to quietly sit next to and enjoy. A few years ago, I moved from my house in Ward Canyon to within a stone’s throw of the Truckee. I quickly discovered the advantages of living near the river. While it might not give you the awe inspiring beauty of Lake Tahoe, it’s a pleasantly beautiful place to swim (and always a bit warmer then the lake).

Floating the Truckee River is of course another wonderful way to experience the river. When the water is at Goldilocks level the river is packed full of happy rafters. But as the river level dropped this summer, the raft companies could no longer put rafts into the water, and just a few private rafters plied the waters.

While my first two trips down the river this year were amongst the crowds, on my last trip a few days ago, I confronted dramatically different conditions. The water level was low, and we encountered a grand total of zero other floaters on our journey. I’d spent the previous 10 days peddling my new children’s book, Gertrude’s Tahoe Adventures in Time with the illustrator, Jess Bechtelheimer, who lives in Kansas. We drove all over the place doing signings and introducing folks to the book, but I thought it was also important to give Jess a chance to experience what Tahoe has to offer. We canoed past osprey nests at Bliss State Park, kayaked from Hurricane Bay to Sunnyside, and enjoyed a family sunset BBQ at Tahoe Park Beach. But what trip to Tahoe would be complete without a float down the Truckee? We couldn’t let a shortage of water get in the way, right?

We started out at 64 Acres and began to float. Very slowly. How slowly? Visualize the slowest walker you know…yeah, we were slower then that. But the float is relaxing and the ducks all stopped by to say hi. Further downstream, we ran into some very shallow and rocky sections, where we discovered that having the tubes tied together helped when one of us was hopelessly marooned on a rock…which happened a lot. If one craft was still moving along in the paltry current, the other could slowly drag the other raft over the rock.

Two hours after our entrance at 64 Acres, we paddled over to the bike trail and discovered that we had covered about 1.5 miles in 2 hours. Needless to say, it was much faster walking back then floating down. But we’d floated the Truckee River, which is always a good thing to do.