By Tim Hauserman

These days every summer morning you will see paddleboards and kayaks paddling along the shoreline of Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake. These light weight craft give folks the chance to get exercise while enjoying the beauty of our Sierra lakes. In the old days, bulkier wood or metal canoes were the preferred method of paddling from place to place, now they are a rare sighting. But canoes are not just vestiges from a bygone age, they can still be a fun way to get out on the lake today. Especially if an overnight trip is your goal. 

My parents owned an Old Town canoe that was rode hard and brought home wet by a whole host of Hauserman kids and grandkids for over 30 years. A few years ago when I acquired the old girl, I christened her Sheila, and arranged for her much needed make over. Now, she is looking good and ready for action. In June, she took us on an epic Tahoe adventure: We paddled from Bliss State Park to the Emerald Bay boat campground and spent the night.

The early morning paddle from Bliss State Park to Emerald Bay is an amazing journey. The entire four miles of lakeshore is state park land and devoid of structures and roads. It looks pretty much the way it did 100 years ago (I guess, contrary to the opinions of my kids, I was not around back then). As we made our way in and out of the little rocky coves we saw several eagles and an osprey, but since we left really early we didn’t see many boats. 

We passed the boat campground by mid-morning and kept going to the beach in front of Vikingsholm for our picnic lunch, before returning to the campground to set up camp. The process was quite simple, pull the boat onto the grass at the edge of the lake and carry our dry sacks full of gear up to our camp site. Most of the folks spending the night arrived via kayak. We did notice that those who arrived by motor boat tended to bring a lot more gear, I guess because they had plenty of room to do so. While they might have been more comfortable in camp, they worked up an appetite with all those trips back to the dock. 

Once we had our camp set up, is when it got really good. While Emerald Bay is a crowded place in the summer, as the day began to wane, most of the folks left, and then the bay was a peaceful place. 

Early the next morning, we glided over the glassy lake surface to loop around Fannette Island, before heading back to Bliss State Park. Then we spent a beautiful morning enjoying one of Tahoe’s best beaches. Can’t wait to do it again. 

by Tim Hauserman

During the crazy busy days of August and Labor Day, my local swimming spot on Lake Tahoe was often so crowded it was hard to find space on the pier to lie down. Earlier this month, I walked down to the beach for a swim on a bright and sunny late morning, with the lake calm, and the water still warm, and took a dip. I was the only one on the pier. Yep, it was time for the September Slows…Locals summer… August without the crowds…And Tahoe folks were just besides themselves with excitement.

Well, but then again, September can be a fickle little bugger. It can be warm, sunny and crowd-less. Or as I was reminded a few days after my swim, it can snow. On September 20th it snowed all morning at lake level, quarter size flakes gently covering the lawn with a few inches of snow.

Two days later, I was enjoying a hike along Emerald Bay, there was a cool breeze and a few sprinkles, but that couldn’t dampen my spirits as a hike along the Rubicon Trail is always a gorgeous way to spend a few hours.

The next day, I was mountain biking the hardened, deep brown trails of Tahoe XC above Tahoe City. There was not a hint of dust on the trails, but I did roll over a few remaining patches of snow. Sure it was a bit nippy, but the bright blue sky and even brighter blue lake shimmered in the sun.

This week, it is supposed to rise back up into the 70s and perhaps a few more days of swimming in Lake Tahoe are still in the offing. Or perhaps it will snow again.

The moral of the story when it comes to September and October at Lake Tahoe is that you need to carpe diem. If the weather is warm and lovely, get out there for a hike, bike ride or paddle on the lake. If it is stormy or snowy, bundle up, light a fire and enjoy a hot chocolate…and then get out there, just choose your location wisely. Let nature be your guide.