Summer in Tahoe

An archive of blog posts on things to see and do in Lake Tahoe. Book with Hauserman Rental Group today for the perfect getaway!

By Tim Hauserman 

My bike cut its way down the steep switchbacks then rolled swiftly through the thick manzanita to the spectacular viewpoint above Lake Tahoe. To my left sat a row of houses, perched on top of the hill, below lay a thick mantle of low lying brush, and further down, a dense forest of trees.  Past the trees, a view of much of Tahoe’s west shore with snow capped Mt. Tallac serving as a centerpiece. This spot is now one of my favorite places to get off my bike and take in Tahoe’s grandeur.  Eleven years earlier on a windy summer day, a fire roared up this hill and nearly took out hundreds of home just a mile as the crow flies from Tahoe City. 

On August 18th, 2007 I was given the rare opportunity to crew for my brother Dan Hauserman on his sailboat in the Wednesday night sailing races. It was an extremely windy day and as we set sail from Lake Forest towards Homewood for the race, we saw a thick, dark cloud of smoke coming from the west shore. Just two months earlier, The Angora Fire had burned over 250 homes on Tahoe’s south shore, so the spectacle was particularly terrifying.  

At first we couldn’t tell exactly where the fire was and where it was going. My thoughts were with my teenage daughter home alone in Ward Canyon, another daughter at work in Tahoe City and my wife who was holding an open house at a cabin in Tahoe Park, just a half mile from where the fire started. Where was the fire going and were any of them in danger?

We could see bright flashes of wind driven flames, as we struggled to keep the boat flat in the relentless gale. A helicopter arrived dumping water, and we began pleading to the sky: “More planes, bigger planes…and while you are at it, rain and less wind!”  Once we had sailed to just a 1/2 mile off shore of the fire it was still hard to determine exactly where the fire was, but we could see the wind was driving it towards Tahoe City, and that hundreds of homes were in its path.

We reached Homewood about the time we learned the sailboat race had been cancelled since Highway 89 was closed for the fire. As we sailed our way back our eyes were glued to the fire, unable to tell whether it was getting worse or the firefighters were slowly getting a handle on it. That night, I stayed with my daughter in Tahoe City while we waited for the road to open so we could get to our home on the west shore. We realized there was nothing we could do, except hope. 

The fire started when high winds reignited a charcoal BBQ on Washoe Way along the edge of Tahoe Park. The fire burned several houses on Washoe Way before racing up the hill through thick forest to burn three houses on the edge of Tahoe Woods Blvd. It then continued into the forest adjacent to the development. Fortunately, that forest that had been extensively thinned to reduce fire danger just the year before, which slowed the fire down so that fire fighters were able to get it under control.

Over the next few years, the burned trees were removed, and manzanita and other quick growing bushes grew where the trees had been. New homes replaced those that were burned, and a new trail appeared which headed from where the pavement ended on Tahoe Woods Blvd, past the new lake view where my bike and I rested, and then ascended to Page Meadows.

To the casual observer who doesn’t know the history, where the fire occurred just looks like a hillside slope with brush instead of trees, and a place where several new homes have been built in the last eleven years. For those who know the story, it’s a reminder of the terror that can be caused by a forest fire, of the reason why the forests are managed to reduce fire danger, and by the power of the land to recover and recreate itself. 

By Tim Hauserman 

Recently I was hiking along the Tahoe Rim Trail out of Tahoe City when I came upon a group of seven guys on mountain bikes. They all had identical bikes so I assumed that a) they were members of the racing team for a bike manufacturer, or b) they rented them from a bike shop. After watching them ride and talking to several about their less than stellar biking experience I guessed the latter. This section of the TRT is a pretty challenging ride for inexperienced riders, with lots of little rocks and twists and turns. These guys were not having fun, which gave me the idea to write this post. 

Tahoe is loaded with awesome recreational opportunities. And there is certainly a go have fun and push the envelope sports atmosphere here whether it is jumping off cliffs skiing in the winter or mountain biking down the gnarliest trail in the summer.  But in the words of Sergeant Jablonski on Hill Street Blues it’s important to remember:  “Let’s be careful out there.”

For most of us, it’s really about going out and having fun, not trying to keep up with the images you see on a Red Bull Video. So be sure and embark on a Tahoe adventure that’s well suited to your actual ability level, which might be different than your in your dreams ability level.

Before heading out, seek information and find out what a trail or a sport is really like. If it’s a challenging mountain bike trail and you have never ridden before, it’s the same as a beginning skier taking on a double black diamond ski trail. Find a trail that is suited to your ability…you will have a lot more fun. Finding information might require more then just asking someone you see riding by with a really nice bike. Remember, to a super strong rider what they call an easy trail, to you might be a scary adventure. While not usually intentional, the biggest lie heard in Tahoe is: “That trail, no, it’s not that difficult.” 

The same goes for going out on a hike. I’ve found myself a number of times hiking out of Desolation Wilderness in the late afternoon scratching my head when I see folks with almost no water, the wrong clothing, looking tired and wondering where the lake is (three more miles and 1000 feet of climbing…and it’s dark in two hours…and you have on a T-shirt). 

The same holds true for kayaking, paddleboarding, motor boating, road bike riding and any other activity you might participate in at Lake Tahoe. Being careful out there begins with having correct information on the difficulty with the task ahead, and being honest with yourself about your true abilities. That is how to make your Tahoe outdoor experience a great one. 

By Tim Hauserman 

The Memorial Day weekend is a great time to be at Tahoe. It’s not crazy busy like 4th of July, it’s more of a holiday that looks you right in the face and says…holy cow… summer is coming. Well, hopefully it is a reminder that summer is coming. Sometimes the weather is glorious and warm…and then sometimes…it snows. Either way, second home owners come up to brush away the cobwebs and put the patio furniture out. Locals take advantage of the opportunity to go for a bike ride or a hike and enjoy the beginning of summer. And visitors come to Tahoe to herald in the first of hopefully several trips up to the lake. 

Looking for a fun event to attend over Memorial Day? Here are two ideas: 

Tahoe Cross Country Parking Lot Sale, May 26, 9 am to 3 pm

For some Memorial Day is all about the garage sales. Remember those second home owners cleaning out their houses for the summer I talked about earlier? Well they throw away some of it, and decide to sell the rest. And perhaps what they consider expendable you might think is just what you are looking for. Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area and The Highlands neighborhood is trying something different. They are putting together a real hum dinger of a neighborhood sale in the Tahoe XC parking lot (925 Country Club Drive, Tahoe City). 

Highlands Homeowners Association President Ray Garner says that residents are encouraged to bring their barbecues and refreshments to make it a fun, block party like event. 

Once you’ve picked up some great bargains and socialized with some new friends, you can ride your mountain bike or take a hike on the trails at Tahoe XC. They leave right from the parking lot and head out over miles of forest and through wildflower dotted meadows. You can even climb up the Lakeview Trail, which perhaps you can imagine provides a nice view.  Trails should be perfect by May 26th. 

Made in Tahoe Festival. May 26-27th 11 am to 7 pm. 

The Village at Squaw Valley will be packed with artists, businesses, food and entertainment as this festival honors all things Lake Tahoe/Truckee. It’s a great opportunity to gather and appreciate what an amazingly creative and entertaining group of people call Tahoe home. Entertainment on the three stages includes local bands and dance groups. And then of course there will be lots of awesome people watching. Enjoy!

By Tim Hauserman 

One of my favorite bike rides in the Tahoe region is the Donner Lake to Cisco Grove route along Highway 40. The 42 mile ride has a bit of everything: Steep climbs and descents on Donner Pass, as well as plenty of time just to roll along and enjoy the view of the Yuba River between Norden and Cisco Grove. The road is lightly traveled, but there are a few spots along the way to pick up food and drink. And those views, they are absolutely sublime. 

I like to park my car at the east end of Donner Lake along the road. Why just ride along Donner Pass Road to the pass, when you could include a ride around Donner Lake as part of the package? I head into the park, and follow South Shore Drive to the southern edge of the lake. A few gentle miles and you are out of the park and then a short, steep climb, brings you into the residential area that you follow along the lake to West End Beach. There, a left turn onto Donner Pass Road/Highway 40 begins the three mile climb to the top of the pass. It’s steep, but just put it in first gear, and enjoy the endless views of massive granite faces dotted with climbers, or Donner Lake shimmering below. Give your lungs a break at the viewpoint just before the Rainbow Bridge. 

From the top, Highway 40 crosses the Pacific Crest Trail and cruises past Sugar Bowl Ski Resort. It’s generally downhill past Soda Springs and Norden to the crossing of Interstate 80 where the descent gets steeper and the road less traveled. In what seems like a hop, skip and a jump you roll through Kingvale, and the grades eases, with a mostly gentle descent past Rainbow Lodge and to the turn around spot at Cisco Grove.  

The way back is always a puzzle. Wait, it wasn’t that long on the way down was it? Or steep? Especially the few miles from Kingvale to Norden seem like an eternity. But eventually, you reach the pass, where the wild downhill begins. The good news is that if you are cruising along at 25 miles an hour, there is a pretty good chance you will not encounter any cars. But those views…

At Donner Pass Road, go straight this time and find your own little mini pier on Donner Lake to jump into and wash off all that sweat and grime you accumulated in 40 miles. Now, you are refreshed and ready for a nap…I mean the rest of your day. 

By Tim Hauserman

While Lake Tahoe is best known as a spectacularly beautiful place full of outdoor recreational possibilities, it is important to remember it is also a place where caring people do great things not only for each other, but for pets. One example is Incline Village’s Pet Network which is trying to find a home for a unique pair of dogs that has come under their care.

Confiscated from a tough home life, Honey is a 14 year old Dachshund who is blind. But Honey is Ok, because she has Buddy, a 4 year old German Sheperd/Pyrenees mix. Buddy acts like Honey’s service dog, showing her where the food is located, introducing her to strangers, and pushing Honey’s bed to her so she can lie down. Buddy is a true buddy, always keeping Honey in view.

“Buddy really is her eyes,” said Heidi Todd, Pet Network’s Shelter Manager. “He allows her to meet people, experience her environment, and enjoy playtime with toys. He really does care about her. He’s her real life guardian angel.”

The Pet Network is looking for the perfect home for these two who need to be adopted together, and the sooner the better since the dogs have been at the shelter for over two months. Someone special is sure to come along and take these two friends into their home. If you think you might be that someone special, call the Pet Network at 775-832-4404. If these dogs are not for you, there are also other cats, kittens, dogs and puppies that would love to come home with you and become a loving addition to your family. Go to petnetwork.org

 

By Tim Hauserman

While Labor Day looms in the calendar, there is still a lot of awesome activities to take advantage of before the heat of summer turns to the colors of fall. Here are four great choices to enjoy in August:

Rafting The Truckee begins again:
After this past mega winter, first there was too much water flowing into the Truckee, and then when it was time to begin releasing water from downstream reservoirs, there was not enough water to raft the Truckee. Now, with a recent increase in the amount of flow it looks like the river will provide that Goldilocks level that folks are looking for. As of July 6th, 200 cubic feet per second was flowing. The best rates are between 250-400 cfs or so. Earlier this spring it was up to 1600 cfs, and in late July it was at 78 cfs. Enjoy it while you can.

Music Everywhere
There are Sunday afternoon concerts on The Commons Beach in Tahoe City, Tuesday Blues Concerts in Squaw Valley, music and a lot of other stuff when Truckee shuts down Downtown for Truckee Thursdays, and Concerts on the Beach at Kings Beach every Friday (except August 11th). Whichever event you choose, there is nothing like enjoying music outdoors in the high Sierra, whether it is under the stars or next to Tahoe’s lakeshore.

Hey…Go jump in the lake.
If you are ever going to swim in the refreshing waters of Lake Tahoe, now is the time. The August 6th reading for water temperature is 70 degrees! That’s right, pretty rare to see a 7 as the first number for a Tahoe water temp. Shallow, sandy places are warmer, while deeper, rocky shorelines, will be a bit chillier, but it’s all good. Get in there.

Check out the Woodies
Take a step back in time On August 11th-12th at The 45th annual Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance held at Obexer’s Boat Company in Homewood. The show is a chance to take a close look at many of the most beautiful wood boats in the country. 

laketahoeconcours.com


By Tim Hauserman

For over thirty summers, Monday nights at North Lake Tahoe has meant Laser Racing with the Tahoe Yacht Club. Lasers are single handed sailboats that are fast and physically demanding, requiring a great deal of strength to be able to hike out and flatten the boat to both increase speed, and keep from capsizing. Many local sailors have been racing for decades, while others are new to the sport, but this past weekend was a whole new ball game as the Tahoe Yacht Club hosted the US Laser National Championships. The four day event included about 100 of the best racers in the world sailing the waters of Lake Tahoe off Lake Forest.

I was lucky enough to jump on a press boat to watch and photograph the event on Friday. The smoke from the day before had cleared and being out on the lake was spectacular. The only problem was, there was no wind. So we drove around talking to sailors, went for a swim, and throughly enjoyed a relaxing afternoon. A highlight of the wait was a sailor riding his slippery dagger board behind a coaches motorboat like a wake boarder. It was pretty astonishing balance!

Eventually the wind picked up and the races began. The skill level of the sailors was amazing. Somehow all those boats managed to bunch up just behind the starting line seconds before the gun went off, and then used their innate sense of wind to conquer the course. Racing Lasers is a combination of strength, endurance, boat handling skills, and knowledge about the wind. A bit of luck might also be involved, especially in Tahoe with it’s frequently shifting winds.

There are two classes of Lasers, the Full Size and the Radial Class, which has a smaller sail and attracts younger and lighter participants. The male winner was Marek Zaleski from Norwalk, Conn., who won an astonishing 5 of the 7 races he competed in. Hanne Weaver from Seattle became the 2017 U.S. Singlehanded Women’s Champion on Sunday, after turning in top ten performances in 5 of the 6 Radial Races.

“It was really exciting to mix it up with the best sailors in the country,” said long time Laser racer Dan Hauserman. “Some of these guys are Olympic hopefuls and in another league. It was humbling, but really fun. I think this is the biggest sailing event ever on Tahoe, and the Yacht Club did an amazing job at putting it together.”

For information about the Monday night racing series, go to tahoeyc.com

 


by Tim Hauserman

Nothing like a Saturday afternoon ride along the Truckee River to remind me to pass on a few tips about rafting or riding on the Truckee River.

Rafting the Truckee

The big winter we just had led to a topsy turfy summer for rafting on the Truckee River. The Goldilocks zone for rafting is between 200-400 cubic feet per second (cfs) released from the dam at Fanny Bridge. During much of the spring the dam was releasing more than 1000 cfs, and at times it was over 1400 cfs, which flooded the bike trail along the river. Once the lake reached it’s maximum and there was not the need to open the gates the Watermaster started releasing more water downstream from the full Boca and Stampede Reservoirs, and cut back the releases from Lake Tahoe to about 75 cubic feet per second…not enough to raft.

Today, I saw a lot of private rafts in the water. Unfortunately, I was seeing rafts in the water being pulled by people who were dragging them over rocks instead of floating. There are two ways to find out when is a good time to raft the Truckee. First, if the rafting companies are open and floating down the Upper Truckee, there is the right amount of water being released (they are not operating now), and second, you can go to the USGS Link that shows how much water is being released.

https://waterdata.usgs.gov/ca/nwis/uv?site_no=10337500

Look for somewhere in the 200-400 cfs range.

Riding along the Truckee

The five mile bike trail from Tahoe City to Squaw Valley is one of the prettiest trails anywhere, traveling next to the river the whole way. It’s a narrow trail, and as you can imagine, a popular place. Here are a few tips to both keep you safe and to literally avoid running into others on the trail:

Remember a bike trail is like a road, and just like on a road, if you stand in the middle of it and don’t pay attention, you may get run over.

Ride on the right, walk on the left (so that the walkers can see you coming).

If riding, say, “On your left” as you pass people on the left.

If walking, be prepared for fast moving bikes, so you don’t freak out when you hear someone say “On your left”

Take up just one side of the trail. If you are a group of four people, please don’t walk or ride four abreast, this makes it impossible for a fast moving bike to get around you. Remember a bike trail is like a road, and like a road, you are only allowed one lane.

Watch out for: children and adults who are oblivious to other users and rafters coming off the river without looking.

 

Concerts on the Beach: The lake is high, the temperatures are pretty dang perfect, and the music is fine at the edge of Lake Tahoe every Sunday at Concerts on The Commons. Whether you are there to enjoy the view, socialize with the throngs of locals and second home owners, or dance to the tunes right up front, there is nothing that says summer in Tahoe City better than the Sunday concerts on the beach. Bring a blanket and your low back chair, wine and food, and kick back. There are also a few food vendors if you didn’t have time to put together your own feast.
Concertsatcommonsbeach.com

Movies on the Beach: Bring the kids to The Commons every Wednesday through August 24th to lie back and watch the stars and experience a movie outdoors next to the shore of Lake Tahoe. Early arrivals get the best seats and a chance to enjoy Cheri’s Hand Dipped Ice Cream. Bring plenty of layers as well as sleeping bags and blankets, as the temperatures drop rapidly once it gets dark.

http://tahoetopia.com/moviesonthebeach

 

Farmers Market: Combine your love of fresh produce with your love of Lake Tahoe, by doing them together, every Thursday between 8 am and 1 pm right on the shore of the lake at The Commons. The market not only has fresh veges and fruits, but also baked goods, cheeses, crepes and Indian concoctions to eat now, or meat and fish to enjoy later.

Sidewalk Saturdays. The second Saturday of the month is time for the Tahoe City merchants to entertain us with sip and shop, special sales and music. Take a stroll through town and enjoy Tahoe City’s eclectic shopping experience.

Tahoe City Kayak. You can take off right from the beach in Tahoe City every day of the week. The water is high, meaning you can begin paddling just a few feet from the parking lot. This is the summer to get out on a kayak or paddleboard in Tahoe City.
tahoecitykayak.com