18 Oct 2014
Today, I walked across the mighty Truckee River and didn’t even get my feet wet. I know, I know. I’m pretty special. Or it could be that the two years of drought have done such a number on the Lake Tahoe water supply, that the river has diminished down to just a bit of a trickle. Which would explain the sign behind the dam that says the river is now flowing at 0 cfs (cubic feet per second). Yikes!
Fortunately for the folks in Reno, which depend upon the Truckee River for their water supply, a number of other reservoirs and streams between Tahoe City and Reno are still releasing water into the river. But here where it all begins in Tahoe City, floating joyfully in my favorite swimming hole a few hundred yards downstream from the dam is not an option until at least next spring. What is an option is walking along the bed of the river or the much larger then normal lakeshore, and seeing what you cannot normally see when the water is where it is supposed to be.
Taking a stroll along the Truckee River bed is quite surreal. Here you are high and dry in a place that normally contains several feet of swiftly moving water. In several places, both above and below the dam you will see wood posts, part of piers that once reached out from the shore.
You do, however, need to be careful out there. While I was walking towards the dam, I waved to some friends enjoying lunch on the back deck of the Front Street Station. Normally this deck overlooks the river, but now it only provides a view of the free entertainment I was about to provide. Immediately after waving I stepped on a log and discovered that it was the world’s slipperiest object. I believe my foot remained in contact with the log for a half a second before I went flying. Hopefully the crowd was entertained. My advice: Don’t step on slippery logs.
Along the lakeshore you will also find an enormous beach, the remnants of long lost piers, pipes that are usually underwater and immense fields of lupine. Enjoy it all while you can, because hopefully, after the monster winter we are going to have, all that bare land will disappear under water once again.