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By Tim Hauserman

Here in the Sierra Nevada, Mother Nature knows that seasons can be fickle and short so she doesn’t mess around. Instead she gets right to doing what nature does best…producing off-spring, especially the plant variety. Even before the last flake of snow has fallen the melting cycle is in full swing. While the creeks are roaring with all that melted snow, the wildflowers are already popping up along the creek edges, eager to attract the bees and produce the seeds that will mean more wildflowers the next year. High elevation plants know that if you get it done fast, you will not have to worry about the early season snow wiping out a year’s crop.

Watching Page Meadows go through the cycle is a prime example of how fast the process goes. In the middle of June I approached Page Meadows and there were still lots of standing water with patches of snow still in the shady forest. The edges were starting to sprout flowers, but I skipped a ride through it because it would have been a muddy and buggy slog. A month later, I rode through and the trails were dry as a bone, in some places the flowers had come and were already going to seed, and the early signs of mid-summer were starting to appear: Grasshoppers.

The aspen tree leaves in the meadow are still a deep, dark green, and the grass remains green and vibrant. But before you know it, the grass will start to dull and turn brown, the yellow jackets will make a very unpopular reappearance, and the number of grass hoppers will explode. When they do, a bike ride through the meadows sets off a wave of flying creatures in your wake.

It will still be awhile before the first leaves begin to turn as the nights get colder. Fall conditions can last anywhere from a few weeks before the first snows arrive in October or cruise right on into November before the white stuff finally flies. Whenever winter comes, it puts the meadow asleep again for several months under a blanket of white…but wait, we are not there yet. Now is the time to enjoy the warmth, the green grass and the blue sky…but carpe diem, because nature doesn’t fool around in the Sierra.

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.