Things to Do in Lake Tahoe in the Winter

By Tim Hauserman 

Now that we seem to be rolling into spring, last week I decided it was a good time to take a stroll along the lake in the sunshine. The perfect place to do that is the Tahoe City Commons Beach. Its southern exposure has baked away the snow, and the trail between the State Park Campground and Fanny Bridge makes for an awesome mile and a half out and back stroll. 

The Lakeshore Trail starts across the parking lot from the Tahoe City Post Office and winds by the edge of the campground to the shore. As soon as you reach the water’s edge, a public pier owned by the campground makes for a nice opportunity to get out on the lake. 

The lakeside route continues past the home of the Tahoe Gal tour boat and then begins flowing past a number of restaurant choices with views of Lake Tahoe. First comes Hacienda Del Lago and Jake’s on the Lake in the Boatworks. Then continuing on, to your left is the Tahoe City Marina, which in a few months will be packed full of boats, and to your right is Moe’s BBQ. 

Rounding a short bend on your right you find Za’s, with lakefront seating just above the pathway. Za’s also has a public pier. From the end of that pier you get a great view of the Commons Beach, your next destination. To get there, travel a few hundred yards further on the trail, passing by the ancient remains of a volcanic eruption.

Commons Beach has a sandy beach and lawn area, restrooms, and playground. It’s a popular spot for families throughout the year, and there are benches to sit and enjoy the peaceful ambiance. Just past the Commons parking lot, you follow the road up to the highway, parallel it to Mackinaw Street and shortly after arrive at Fanny Bridge and the Lake Tahoe Dam, which provides one of my favorite views of both the Truckee River and Lake Tahoe. Be sure and check to the information about Lake Tahoe and releases into the Truckee River on the back of the dam. 

By Tim Hauserman 

This morning I headed out on the trails at Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area early to beat the racers who were competing in the Alpenglow 20K Race. I had a wonderful ski following the difficult route that an hour or two after me the racers would follow. I was quite satisfied skiing it at my own pace instead of racing. I used to race a few times a year and enjoyed the camaraderie that you experienced both before and after the race. But I also discovered something very important: cross country ski racing is really hard.

After my ski I hung out in the flat on the Yellow Trail, just before the last steep downhill to the finish line. While I was waiting for the super fast 20K skiers to arrive, I watched a bit of the tail end of the 10K skiers. They reminded me of what is quite touching about cross country ski races. Anyone can enter a race, and sometimes they do. 

In addition to the super fit endorphin addicts that take the podiums, nordic ski races also  attract folks who haven’t done a lot of cross country skiing, but for some reason they thought, “ah, what the hell, I might as well race, how hard can it be?” Today, I saw some folks who could definitely benefit from a beginning skate ski clinic, but they were out there. Giving it their best with a look of unbounded determination (and also a hint of exhaustion and a question mark on top of their head that says, “What in the hell was I thinking?”) Oh and one of those skiers, was willing to give even more…when they took a wrong turn and added an extra half kilometer to their ski before someone could catch her and get her to turn around. 

Sure, Patrick Johnson, the speed demon who roared by me over a minute ahead of the next competitor to take first place is a hero. As was my friend Claire Walton, who won the women’s prize. But I also consider those at the back of the pack to be heroes. They took on a challenging race in a challenging sport and persevered their way to the finish line. They should feel quite proud of their accomplishment, although at this point, they might not be feeling much at all except exhaustion. 

  

By Tim Hauserman 

Try one or all of these. 

1.Take a hike on the East Shore Trail: The new East Shore Trail begins at Tunnel Creek Cafe in Incline and travels along the lakeshore three miles to Sand Harbor. The views of the lake are phenomenal, and the east shore location is snow free as of this writing. 

2. Bowl at Bowl Incline in Incline Village. Looking for some old fashioned fun in the evening? This might do the trick. 

3. Hit a museum: Gatekeepers in Tahoe City has a phenomenal collection of baskets,  Donner Memorial near Donner Lake tells the tale of the Donner Party.

4. Head for the beach: Tahoe City’s Commons Beach or Kings Beach’s big sandy playa are two good choices to say hello to Tahoe. 

5. Stroll around the grounds of Sugar Pine Point State Park. Meander through the ancient pine and cedars while marveling at the beauty of the Ehrman Mansion. Then stroll or snowshoe along the lakeshore. Keep your eyes peeled for eagles and osprey. 

6. Go Downtown: Take a sidewalk stroll through downtown Tahoe City or Truckee and support our local small businesses. 

7. Learn some Tahoe Science at the Tahoe Science Center on the grounds of Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village.  

8. Head to All Fired Up in The Cobblestone (just across the parking lot from Hauserman Rental Group) to paint pottery or canvas, make candles or have an adult party with a bottle of wine from Uncorked just a few steps away. 

9. Jump on trampolines, fly into foam pits, or do some tricks on bikes or skis at Woodward Tahoe on Donner Summit next to Boreal Ski Area.  

10. Take a paddle at Waterman’s Landing in Carnelian Bay. Wait for a warm, calm day but yes, it is possible to get out on Lake Tahoe in the winter. After or before the paddle pick up some food from the cafe or hang out on the beach. 

By Tim Hauserman 

Here comes February, the heart of the Tahoe winter! There are always lots of great events planned. Here are a few that are certainly worth a look. Check out the calendar of North Tahoe events at thetahoeweekly.com for lots of other things to do:

Squaw Valley Fireworks. Catch the over the snow fireworks at Squaw Valley Feb 8, 15 and 22nd at 7 pm. But wait, there are more fireworks to see during Snowfest. More on that below. 

Alpenglow Mountain Festival February 15-23

This nine day celebration of human-powered mountain sports includes get togethers, clinics, equipment demonstrations and films. There are a total of 75 individual events and the vast majority are free! The focus is on backcountry skiing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, natural history, yoga, live music and social gatherings. Get the scoop at alpenglowsports.com. Many events require prior registration and fill up, so go online asap.  

Speaking of Alpenglow Sports, they also host the very popular,  Winter Speaker Series at Squaw Valley. It wraps up on Thursday, February 20th, at 6:00 PM with a presentation from professional skier Hadley Hammer. Hammer’s show, ‘Redemption Through Adventure’, details her unlikely beginning in the pro-skier world when she entered her first big mountain competition at age 25, and was catapulted to the top of the Freeride World Tour. The Alpenglow speaker series attracts huge audiences and are a social highlight of the winter. These events are also fundraisers that have raised over $300,000 towards local non-profit organizations in the last few years. This time it’s The Tahoe Fund which will be the beneficiary. 

Snowfest! February 28-March 8th. This iconic celebration of winter includes cocktail parties. parades, pancake breakfast, polar bear swims and even a few fun events that don’t start with “P” like luaus, ribfests and Fireworks in Tahoe City above the Winter Sports Park. Hauserman Rental Group has been a popular participant in the Snowfest Parade for years, creating some memorable costumes (see the photo above).  You may want to be leap on over to Tahoe City to check it out on February 29th. For a full list of Snowfest events go to tahoesnowfest.org 

By Tim Hauserman

Friday January 17 dawned beautiful and clear after over a foot of snow at lake level. It was a true powder day that brought every powder hound around town to the downhill slopes. While I’m sure the downhill skiing and snowboarding was extraordinary, I took the right turn to Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area, where the cross country skiing was spectacular, and the crowds were practically non-existent. 

Most of my skiing days are on skate skis, as it is my favorite sport. When more than a foot of snow falls, however, classic skiing is a good alternative. All that fresh pow can take a few days to pack down tight and fast, which is best for skating, while the cold, new stuff is a classic skier’s dream. This explains why a lot of Tahoe folks go downhill skiing when the snow is new, and then a few days later, make their way over to the nordic ski areas to skate ski.

This past month the skate skiing has been off the charts good, so my classic skiing muscles were a bit out of shape. But there is something mediative and relaxing about the gentle rhythm of kicking and gliding your way down a perfectly smooth set of tracks. You roll along at just the right speed to fully appreciate the panorama of that smooth blanket of untouched snow, as above you thick clumps of frosting cover the branches of the white fir, jeffrey pine and incense cedar. 

I ran into a friend at the trailhead who spends a lot more time classic skiing than I do, so by skiing with her I skied a faster pace and more kilometers than I might have done otherwise. I was pretty proud of myself for pushing my envelope, but on those last few k’s I had this sinking feeling my body might be talking to me the next day.

Yep, here I am writing this on the next day and my hip flexors have their hands on their hips, looking at me with that knowing glare asking why I skied that far, and my shoulders are stepping up with their objections as well. But when the snow is there and the joy is to be had, you get out there. Because really, what is more fun than playing in the snow? So time to get my sore body up, and hit the trail. 


By Tim Hauserman

If skiing is not enough to get you up to Tahoe this January, here are a few other things to do while you are here that will make life interesting:

Throughout January, various locations
Full Moon and Sunset Snowshoe Tours:
Watch the purple alpenglow or catch the full moon rising while learning natural and human history of the Sierra from local guides on a sunset or full moon snowshoe tour. Offered every Friday or by custom arrangement with at least four guests. Trips include snowshoes, poles, hot drinks and snacks. tahoeadventurecompany.com

January 22nd, 6:30 to 8 pm, REI Reno
How to complete the TRT-Guide panel Discussion.
Contemplating hiking the 165 mile Tahoe Rim Trail once the snow melts? Head to REI Reno for a panel discussion with TRTA guides who have completed hiking the entire trail. These expert guide can answer questions and provide helpful tips and resources to make your TRT experience as good as it can be. tahoerimtrail.org

January 23, 7 to 9, Olympic Village Lodge, Squaw Valley
Alpenglow Speaker Series: Adrian Ballenger
Back for its 14th year, the Alpenglow Winter Film Series provides presentations from inspiring adventure athletes for free. On January 23rd it’s Adrian Ballenger’s turn. In addition to providing great speakers, the Alpenglow Speaker Series has brought in over $170,000 to local non-profits. The January 23rd beneficiary is the Truckee Tahoe Lands Trust. alpenglowsports.com

January 24-25th Diamond Peak Ski Area, Incline Village
Ullr Fest
The 11th annual UllrFest happens January 24th and 25th. There is a torchlight parade, bonfire, party with live music, as well as dinner and auction at Alibi Ale Works. Come dressed in your best Ullr Attire: Honoring the Scandinavian god of winter. The event is a fundraiser for the Diamond Peak Ski Team. View schedule and details online: diamondpeak.com/events/details/ullr-fest

January 31, Sierra Nevada College, Incline Village
Science of Cocktails
The UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC), hosts the 4th annual Science of Cocktails with proceeds directly supporting the UC Davis Tahoe Science Center and innovative science education programs. The Science of Cocktails will be held on Friday, January 31, 2020 at the UC Davis Tahoe Science Center in Incline Village, NV. tahoe.ucdavis.edu

by Tim Hauserman

Before bedding down for a much needed sleep on Christmas Night I listened to the Charlie Brown Christmas CD. Reluctantly it was the last time I would get to hear it this year. It has been my background music for Christmas’ for over 30 years. And just like that 30 years, this Christmas has come and gone, leaving memories, which is what Christmas is all about. 

The long ago memories of my childhood revolve around immense gatherings of my older siblings and their wild brood of urchins taking over my parents house. There were football games on the street (the telephone poles were the touchdown lines, the edge of the road the sidewalk); enormous turkey dinners were followed by turkey and cranberry sandwiches, and lusty Christmas morning attacks into the pile of paper wrapped presents while we drank Ramos fizzes. There is also a less stellar memory of spending the entire Christmas Day watching my beloved Kansas City Chiefs lose the playoff game that turned into the longest game in history.

Then there are the more touching, and quieter, memories of a few decades later of Christmas times with my daughters. Christmas began a few weeks early, with the harvesting of a Charlie Brown tree from the forest nearby, and the girls setting up the lights and their favorite ornaments. I was always the first one up Christmas morning, perhaps still holding out hope in the deepest recesses of my brain that someone had secretly hid my Red Rider BB Gun behind the tree. This was a fitting dream because  “The Christmas Story” was always on in the background throughout the day. 

Kids in their jammies and me in my ugly Christmas sweatshirt, we slowly made our way though the presents. Quite sedated in comparison to the crazy free for all of dozens of happy kids simultaneously ripping apart the packages that I remember from my childhood. Presents were followed by a glorious breakfast of eggs and bacon and lox and bagels…and cinnamon rolls…,and coffee and hot chocolate…

Now, alas, the kids are all grown, and I cherish the opportunity to get together with them briefly around the holidays when it works for them, this year, at Thanksgiving.These get togethers are still poignant with the memories of those early years. As a parent, every phase of our child’s lives are rewarding, but the best age we will ever experience the true joys and mystery of Christmas are between 5 and 15 years old.  

This Christmas Eve was a quiet one with my girlfriend Joyce, and it gave me the opportunity to cherish her memories. Her Christmas tree was loaded with ornaments from around the world, each commemorating a treasured visit to a special place. At the base of the tree was a manger, built by her grandfather over 80 years ago. We toasted to her childhood Christmas memories, and to all those who smiled brightly in those ancient photos that are no longer with us. And expressed gratitude that we are still kicking and gliding. 

This Christmas morning I put on my Santa hat and green ski pants and spent my day saying “Merry Christmas” and “what size shoe do your wear” to the throngs of visitors at Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area. I found joy from seeing how excited they were to be spending their Christmas in the snow at Lake Tahoe. Hopefully, giving their kids Tahoe Christmas memories that they will enjoy decades down the line. 

by Tim Hauserman 

Looking for a great way to spend your evenings after a day of skiing? The Tahoe Film Fest brings a fascinating variety of films to North Lake Tahoe December 5th through the 8th in Incline Village, Crystal Bay and Northstar. The Film Fest benefits the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC), and their programs of science education and research at Lake Tahoe.

Robert Roussel is the director of Tahoe Film Fest. He has been putting on film festivals for nearly 30 years and has been the director of the Tahoe Film Fest for the past four years. He founded The Film Series for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Berkshire Film Festival and the Puerto Vallarta Film Festival with Anjelica Houston. 

The Tahoe Film Fest opens with “Marriage Story” starring an all star cast including Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, and Alan Alda. There will be over a dozen environmentally oriented films, productions about fascinating musicians, and a focus on Latin Cinema. 

“They have put out some outstanding Latin films. We screened ‘Roma’ last year before we realized how successful it would be,” said Roussel. “There will a documentary of Raul Julia, a great actor who died so young and Harvest Season, about immigrant Mexican’s picking grapes in the Napa Valley.” 

Films screened include: 

Echo in the Canyon-which explores the popular music the came out of LA’s Lauren Canyon in the mid-60s, and features Bob Dylan’s son Jakob Dylan

Linda Ronstadt-The Sound of my Voice

David Crosby: Remember my name

Clarence Clemons: Who do you think I am?  (He was the sax player for Bruce Springsteen)

The Two Popes, starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Price

The Story of Plastic

The Condor and the Eagle

Pollinators

Honeyland

N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear

The River and the Wall 

Raul Julia: The Worlds A stage

Midway

Map of Paradise

Harvest Season

Eating Animals 

To view the full schedule for the Tahoe Film Fest, get more information on the films, and to purchase tickets go www.tahoefilmfest.com. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door. All access passes are also available for $75 which give entrance to all the films, and four after parties to be held at Crystal Bay Casino.

By Tim Hauserman 

Need to do a bit of work while you are visiting Lake Tahoe? The Tahoe Mill Collective at the entrance to Alpine Meadows has just expanded to a second location in the center of Tahoe City. The new space has six private offices and desks for rent in an open concept space. There is also a conference room, kitchen, lake views, a gym next door and the famous Pete and Peters bar just across the parking lot. In addition,  Commons Beach and the Lakeside bike trail are just across the highway, Alpenglow Sports is next door, The Cobblestone Center is a block away, and the Tahoe City Golf Course sits right behind the building. I know, sorry, this might be way too many distractions to get your work done, or maybe it is an incentive to get to it so you can go out and play. 

“We know you come to Tahoe to get away and unplug—spending time with friends and family outside. But sometimes, you’ve still got to crank out a few emails, make a conference call, or check in on work from afar, and it can be hard to do that in a vacation home filled with others and possibly limited cell service and wifi,” said Megan Michelson, co-founder manager of Tahoe Mill
Collective.  

“We created the Tahoe Mill Collective, a coworking space in North Lake Tahoe, for just that reason. We offer desk and office space for remote workers, freelancers, start-ups and anyone who needs a quiet place to get work done while they’re in Tahoe. Whether you’re a full-time local or a visitor just here for a couple of days, we’ve got permanent spots and drop-in desks available for rent for the day or week (drop in rates start at $30/day, $75/week, or $150-$250 for the month), as well as conference rooms for small groups.”

For more information on the Tahoe Mill Collective  go to www.tahoemill.com

On a personal note, I’ve been familiar with this property since I was a wee tike. It once housed Kehoe’s Market, the only grocery store in town when I lived up the street where The Cobblestone is now. When I was seven I would obtain my candy money by gathering up recyclable bottles and returning them to Kehoe’s.