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31 Oct 2018
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Fall in Tahoe
Late Season Paddling on Lake Tahoe

The decision to take what might be my last paddle of the fall came to me quickly. I was driving at 9 am and saw that the lake was a sheet of glass. Holy cow I said (or something along those lines) I gotta paddle! I rushed home, threw my kayak on the roof of my car and headed to Hurricane Bay. During the next two hours of paddling to Homewood and back I saw two paddle boarders, one other kayak, and two low flying jets flying in formation. And zero motor boats. It was a glorious way to spend the morning.

On mornings like this, you can see every rock and errant golf ball on the bottom of the lake as you float on the water like you are flying through the sky. It is quiet, with the only sound being the gentle splash of your paddle, and the occasional leaf blower prepping a lakefront home for winter. While a month or two earlier, you maneuvered your way through all the boats on buoys, now just the buoys themselves remain, the boats are all safely hibernating for the winter. It’s a calm and blissful experience until you have to get your feet in the water to remove the boat…that water is no longer the swimming paradise it was, it is now downright cold.

Paddling in October and November and even into December is a tricky business though. You have to be ready to move fast on a moments notice and get your craft down to the water. And you have to be ready to change your plans and do something else like hiking if the weather tells you so.

One day, like my paddle day, you might be focused on your to do list as you drive along the lakeshore when you look at that lake and it hits you smack between the eyes:The sky is blue, the lake is still and the temperatures are downright bearable. Screw the “to do” list, that can wait, I gotta paddle.

Than again, life can take the opposite turn. You’ve arranged your schedule, you got the morning off, you really want to get out on the lake today! So you bound out of bed, ready to roll, and see the winds blowing about 20, and it’s really cold. Like Oh Yeah, it is November Cold, and you have to go back inside, fix a cup of hot cocoa and read a book while contemplating your next option.

It’s all just another reminder of how to do Tahoe. Always have a repertoire of recreational options in your quiver, and each one is weather dependent. Snow: Ski or snowshoe. Warm and Calm Day: Paddle or road bike ride: Cold, dreary day: Hike, go for a walk, mountain bike with lots of layers, or sit by the fire. It’s all about carpe diem.