Tahoe City Snowfest Parade

The parade just rolled through town. Our boy, Grant, is the one waving with the football sweatshirt on and ripped knees…. Sunnyside Restaurant teamed up with Tahoe Community Nursery School and let all the kids jump on their float – thanks Manager Raif!

Tahoe City Snowfest Parade TCNS kids

Tahoe City Snowfest Parade TCNS kids


Tahoe City Snowfest parade 2012

This guy's always in it - one of my favorite "floats"!

Tahoe Lakefront Update: Quick Video (Double-click to Enlarge)

Double-click to make video full size

From my YouTube Channel: A quick Lake Tahoe Lakefront real estate update for March 1, 2012. Tahoe lakefronts seeing some mid-winter activity: Dollar Point lakefront gets 5 offers in 5 days once price was reduced by $.5 million. $6.5m Carnelian Bay lakefront goes in escrow. Two sales so far in 2012: $8.6m Flick Point estate, $1m Agate Bay split lakefront. Direct links to all lakefront listings plus custom maps showing all lakefront sales.

Winter Hits Tahoe

Blackwood Canyon Eagle Rock Pier Tahoe

Blackwood Canyon, Eagle Rock Public Pier on the West Shore

After long last, Tahoe is finally getting a taste of winter. We received about 8″ yesterday and few more overnight. It feels like the first Winter Wonderland Day of the year even though there have been a couple others. It’s nice to see a blanket of snow on the piers and in the trees. The birds are always a little louder on these mornings so it was nice to hear their banter with a fresh cup of coffee this morning. There’s some more coming tomorrow, in fact we have a Winter Storm Warning starting just after midnight tonight. Squaw is a locals’ festival this morning and we’ll see how things shape up after more snow – my call is that Thursday will be the day…

Tahoe City CA cross country skiing

Happy Little Boy, Tahoe City CA cross country skiing

Lake Tahoe Weather Forecast winter storm

Lake Tahoe Weather Forecast: Winter Storm Warning


Pond Hockey Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe Pond Hockey: Homewood CA, Quail Lake

Lake Tahoe Pond Hockey: Homewood CA, Quail Lake

Here’s the Tahoe pond hockey article I wrote for The Weekly Magazine this month – it’s one of the regional freebies here on the North Shore and Truckee.

“Many folks don’t realize it but Tahoe has a Two Act Winter. The Second is the reason most of us moved out here – Pacific Maritime dumps and the deepest, most ridiculous powder days imaginable. But the First Act is what’s such a surprise: the ever-changing, and never-consistent, Tahoe pond skating season. I’m always caught off guard, and hugely pleased, when I get that first text from the guy who organizes daily skates in his neighborhood. Like presents under a tree, the skating season here surprises and excites me every year. It starts discretely in the higher elevations and then slowly moves down to lake level. By the time you see people on the roadside pond in Tahoe Vista there’s already been a month of hockey under the belts of numerous players around town. But the beauty of a frozen pond is that anyone can enjoy it on their own terms and without any gear whatsoever. The other day there were kids and dogs spilling out of sleds on a local pond – not one had skates on.


In autumn when most of us have barely started scouring the woods for deadfall to burn, the friend mentioned above has his entire house in order and is out flooding, scraping and re-freezing the little pond across the street. He uses wide, heavy steel blades with rebar handles to Zamboni (scrape and resurface) the ice as he manicures it in the early season – of course he custom-forged them for this sole purpose. The one time I tried to emulate Tim, I grabbed a six-pack, a borrowed 5-gallon bucket and a sledgehammer. Then I gathered a couple mutant friends to slam a hole and splash water all over a rinky dink pond. This was our attempt to create a smooth surface and it ended up looking like a hydro-tie-dye. If we were all squirrels, Tim would have acorn appetizers, experimental hazelnut entrees and selections of candied, freeze-dried, and smoked walnuts in climate-controlled storage – the rest of us would be slopping from a cold barrel of foul-smelling pinenut paste with our fingers…or claws.


There are different types of crews that discover frozen ponds and have mini-mock seasons on the ice. They’ll usually be at a spot where passersby get clued in to the scene, some new guys or gals will join in, they get an informal list going and get together a couple more times. After playing, they hope for wind each night because that Mother Nature’s Zamboni. The reason I like playing with Tim’s crew is because he eschews the regular hockey league scene yet I’ve never seen a more organized, militaristic approach to pond hockey. You get the text or call a day before the skate and you must respond quickly to be counted. If there’s an uneven number of guys Tim finds another – likely someone who was born with blades on his feet. The time is always the same: 8am and “don’t be late.” In addition to all this, I’ve never worn so much gear on a pond. The only difference between this and league games are hip pads and a team jersey. The goals we use are the typical 2×4 arch, laid on the ice, short side down. Skate saves are the order of the day because to score the puck can’t be more than an inch off the ice. This is another reason I love playing with Tim’s crew.


You see, in California a lot of people learn to play hockey on pavement. There’s something fundamentally different in learning this way versus putting in time on a weather-laden, possibly dangerous, surface where all the guys played competitively in high school and a few laced ’em up in college. Hockey has an inherent pecking order much like a pride of lions feeding on a carcass. The tough, old guys get the most respect then it moves on down the line until you get to the new kid – he’s the son of one of the regulars and has been watching from the sidelines for a few years. In most cases his inclusion isn’t a function of skill. Usually when one of these kids enters the adult game, his speed, fitness and hand skills (plus his general youth!) are enough to school most of the folks out there. The bigger factor is the slippery slope of Respect. If the kid has none he’ll shoot too much, lift the puck off the ice too much, and showboat too much. He and, by association, his dad risk being banished from the pride. That’s how it is at Tim’s Pond and it adds a dimension to the sessions that is hard to find west of the Mississippi.


The best place to skate in this area is the Boca Reservoir. It’s the largest sheet of ice. It freezes relatively early because of Truckee’s colder temperatures. It’s easily accessible. On a given Sunday in a snowless December, you’ll probably find three rinks of folks playing puck. There will be dozens of people free skating toward the far shores. Someone spins donuts on a four-wheeler. Smoke from grills on the ice start smelling delicious around 11 and dogs clumsily visit every pod of folks – and bbq’s. Every now and then you’ll hear the wimpy whine of a single-prop as a local pilot lands somewhere on the huge sheet. It’s a classic California winter scene.


Other places people frequent on blades are Prossor Reservoir, the ponds in Coldstream Canyon, and because of its roadside visibility, the small pond in Tahoe Vista. Less popular spots are Tamarack Pond on top of Mt. Rose and Quail Lake up at Homewood. The most interesting ones are Cascade Lake south of Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe itself. The irony of writing a skating story on Tahoe is that technically, it doesn’t freeze. Some manmade alterations to the shoreline occasionally allow for some pirouettes or a game of puck to break out. One of these is near the entrance to Blackwood Canyon, though it hasn’t happened in the last 15 years or so. Another one is the Tahoe Vista boat ramp. Given my penchant for belated winter preparations, I discovered this spot while bringing my Hobie Cat off the beach in November and having to break 3 inches of ice to get in the harbor.


Tahoe generates incredible memories from the First Act of Winter. The lakes can freeze so perfectly that we have to spraypaint pucks in order to see them. When Cascade went, you could see boulders 70 feet below. One guy’s brother flew out from Massachusetts to skate that year – they made commemorative hats. My first, “proudest” dad moment was feeding our newborn a bottle while wearing all my gear between scrimmages on a frozen pond. Boca got ugly one season and illustrated plate tectonics which created a 3-foot high fissure for hundred of yards – dogs swam in the weird puddle under the crown of it. My final memory from last season, though, was Tim taunting my team about the concluding goal. There was big snow coming in so we all knew it was the closing skate of the season. “You’re gonna remember this comeback ‘til next year, Al!” He was right. They scored.”

pond hockey skating lake tahoe quail lake homewood ca wipeout

Lake Tahoe pond hockey: Homewood CA, Quail Lake wipeout

Tahoe Trout Season is On

Lake Tahoe Trout Rainbow

Lake Tahoe Rainbow caught February 2012

Some friends who’ve found a little time between remodel work have been hitting the lake and with great results.

Another Lake Tahoe Rainbow caught February 2012

Another Day, Another Nice Fish...

Pond Skating Lake Tahoe

Well, it’s not exactly pond skating on the Lake itself but there is tons of pond ice, and hockey, in the Tahoe / Truckee area. I grew up playing pond hockey back East and this normally-pre-season sport is one of my favorites. For fun, I freelance write and photograph for outdoors magazines. My most recent is a piece on this awesome activity that I’ve put together for one of our most prominent local papers, The Weekly. The article is coming out Feb. 9 and here’s a teaser:

“Many folks don’t realize it but Tahoe has a Two Act Winter. The Second is the reason most of us moved out here – Pacific Maritime dumps and the deepest, most ridiculous powder days imaginable. But the First Act is what’s such a surprise: the ever-changing, and never-consistent, Tahoe pond skating season. I’m always caught off guard, and hugely pleased, when I get that first text from the guy who organizes daily skates in his neighborhood. Like presents under a tree, the skating season here surprises and excites me every year. It starts discretely in the higher elevations and then slowly moves down to lake level. By the time you see people on the roadside pond in Tahoe Vista there’s already been a month of hockey under the belts of numerous players around town. But the beauty of a frozen pond is that anyone can enjoy it on their own terms and without any gear whatsoever. The other day there were kids and dogs spilling out of sleds on a local pond – not one had skates on….”

I’ll post the rest once the article is out in the paper. Until then, let’s hope for some more snow…!

Storm Jacobs Ice Skate in Coldstream Canyon, Truckee, CA

Storm Jacobs Ice Skate in Coldstream Canyon, Truckee, CA

Winter on the Way?

Looks like the Snow Dance by the Washo mentioned in the last blog post worked…!

In the last few years a couple weather blogs have popped up in Tahoe. These are great sources of info. Compilations of pertinent weather maps, satellite images, high and low pressure images, etc. Before these folks were around each of us had our own little Bookmarked Weather Stations on our laptops. We’d check what we thought were the lead indicators and then surmise the week’s weather from there. During this time, we all heard about some guy in Mammoth who had a weather blog going and it was fantastically popular. Obviously some people up here thought it was our time and so now we have two main sites: TahoeWeatherDiscussion and TahoeWeatherGeek. I have no idea what kind of credentials are carried by the writers. They could be glorified bookmarkers – but they spend the time and I have to assume their base level of knowledge is greater than mine! Enough for the introductions – here’s a link and some copy from the Geek’s most recent post. Looks like we’re going to finally get something:

Oh, by the way, the Geek has an e-newsletter up for Thursday/storm updates – I just signed up…


Snow in Tahoe by Thursday night

January 18, 2012 by Tahoe Loco
Filed under Weather Geek

Remember winter?

It’s finally about to start, folks.

The leading edge of the first in a series of storms is moving into Oregon and far Northern California this morning. This system will mainly affect the Cascades and the far Northern Sierra, where a few inches of snow are possible.

The next system is due Thursday and should reach Tahoe by Thursday afternoon.

Snow levels will start out around 7000 feet before falling Thursday night.

It looks like this wave has the potential to drop about six inches of snow on the higher elevations and an inch or two around the lake by Friday morning.

After a short lull, the biggest and warmest storm in this series is on track for a Friday arrival. Snow levels will likely rise again as the warm Pacific moisture plume pushes in ahead of the cold air from the north. At first we will probably see rain below about 7500 feet. But snow levels should drop by Saturday morning as the front moves through, and that should be soon enough to deposit several more inches of snow around the lake. Above 7500 or 8000 feet we should see a total of about two feet from these first two storms.

After another break a third storm is due on Sunday. The forecast models are still in conflict about the timing. Some models show the next storm arriving late Saturday or early Sunday, and others not until later on Sunday. Either way it will be the coldest of the bunch, and it looks like it has the potential to give us at least a foot of snow at Lake level and a bit more above the mountain passes.

Beyond that things are murkier. One forecast model shows a ridge of high pressure building and the start of a drying trend, while another leaves the storm door open for at least another day or two.

But for now let’s focus on what seems likely: at least two to three feet of snow above 8000 feet, with a foot or snow below the mountain passes. That might be a bit on the conservative side. But we don’t want to oversell this and be disappointed if the big snow totals fail to materialize.

Have fun. Be safe.

Stay tuned for more details as the week unfolds.

Washo Snow Dance this Sunday

Tahoe Snow Globe

Tahoe Snow Globe

Classic Tahoe – on a bare winter, it used to be a few ski bums out at the old Lucky’s grocery in Tahoe City with a tip jar and some 5-gallon buckets for a “Come on Winter” Car Wash. Now we’re getting serious – the tribe native to Tahoe, the Washo, are going to do a Snow Dance as the culmination of the West Shore Association’s Olympic Heritage Week. Here’s the press release:

History repeats this coming Sunday at Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park as the Eagle Wings Dance Group, descendents of the Paiute, Shoshone and Washo Tribes will be offering traditional songs and dances sacred to the tribes represented to the Creator-God in thanks as part of the Closing Ceremonies for Olympic Heritage Celebration week.

An absence of January snow in the Sierra posed similar planning concerns for the organizers of this week’s Olympic Heritage Celebration events as for the organizers of the VIII Winter Olympic Games, Nordic events, held on Lake Tahoe’s west shore in 1960.  The nervous organizers of those original Olympics brought in Great Basin dancers to encourage snowfall.

“No snow coverage has presented problems, but has also opened a door to history”, Said Heidi Doyle, the Volunteer and Interpretation Program Manager for California State Parks in the Lake Tahoe Area.  “Sugar Pine Point State Park was the summer home of the Washo peoples and we are thrilled that their traditions will return to the West Shore of Lake Tahoe this winter,” said Doyle.

“The lack of rain and snow has been a concern in the Native community, as well”, says Lois Kane the Language and Culture Coordinator of the Reno Sparks Indian Colony. The Eagle Wing Dance group performance will conclude with a round dance in which all are invited to participate.  “We could end up with one large round dance with all of the people dancing and praying for snow, said Kane.

Athletes from around the world came to Lake Tahoe to participate in the 1960 Winter Olympic Games. The biathlon and cross country events of the VIII Winter Games were held in what is now Ed Z’Berg Sugar Pine Point State Park.  Portions of the marked Nordic trails, found within the State park, follow the route of the biathlon and men’s events. Olympic Heritage Celebration week celebrates the spirit of athleticism and highlights the unique cultural heritage found within the park and our region.

Past Olympians, officials, and dignitaries from the 1960 Nordic events will also be on hand to commemorate the end of a week celebrating our Olympic Heritage.   The ceremony will take place at Sugar Pine Point State Park in front of a ¼ scale replica of the Tower of Nations that stands at the entrance to Squaw Valley.  The park is located on Highway 89 mid point on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, just south of Tahoma.  The Closing Ceremonies begin at 2:30pm and there is a $8 per vehicle parking fee.

Golf, Biking, Boating, Tennis, Paddleboarding and, oh yeah, Skiing

I’ve always loved when people take advantage of whatever comes their way, especially as far as weather and the opportunities it brings. I was driving along the North Shore this morning and saw bikers making their way around Tahoe’s circumference. Then there were people skating and sledding on a pond in Tahoe Vista. As I headed into King’s Beach, there were groups of folks getting set to tee off at Old Brockway Golf Course! I’m currently doing an Open House in Dollar Point and I heard that people are playing tennis today. Conversely, you’ll hear the familiar swoosh-swoosh of people in ski pants at the grocery (haven’t seen anyone go in their ski boots…yet) and of course, there are roof racks filled with snowboards and skis. ‘Tis the season and although we don’t have much in the way of snow there’s a ton of activity going on.

Golfers on the 1st Fairway at Old Brockway

Golfers on the 1st Fairway at Old Brockway, New Year's Eve Day


Ice Skating in Tahoe Vista

Ice Skating in Tahoe Vista

Stand-Up Paddleboard rental in Carnelian Bay

Stand-Up Paddleboard rental in Carnelian Bay

Keep Tahoe Swell / Surf The Big Blue

Surf Lake Tahoe 1Powerful Pacific storms and our location high in the mountains can generate pretty serious winds. They can happen on bright blue days when folks are out on the beaches. All of a sudden there’s a rustle in the trees, a subtle wind line appears a couple miles out on the Lake and next thing you know it’s whitecapping just about everywhere. The prime place for surfing on Tahoe is the North Shore. Most of the winds we get are southerly (because of the way storms spin when they approach) so when you let them run rampant over 20+ miles of light water you get an incredible fetch.

Waves here are sloppy in most places although there are some gem spots where it doesn’t even feel windy nor choppy when conditions are right. Generally, though, it’s like a mini-Ocean Beach (SF) with multiple lines of whitewash to contend with while paddling out. There are so many surreal things about the surfing experience on Tahoe and here are a few:

  • No sharks!
  • The water is so incredibly clear and fresh that it’s unlike anywhere you’ve ever surfed. You can mistakenly get some in your mouth and doggedly decide to swallow…because you can and it tastes great!
  • On the coast when winds pick up, it’s over. Here you keep hoping that the wind sustains all day
  • Even if you surf back east in the snow, it’s even weirder when you look west and catch glimpses of Squaw as it braces for another pounding today which you know means a good pow day tomorrow
  • When surfing at Sand Harbor on the East Shore you’re directly under the Bear Claw which rises 3000’ out of the Lake. Some of us ski this backcountry-style in the season and seeing it from the water is quite the unique perspective

Surf Tahoe 2

One of my favorite things about a good surf day at Tahoe is also one of the elements of a surf break anywhere in the world: people stopping and looking, taking about the swell and how it is there compared to other nearby spots. Some folks living in Tahoe sacrifice things like high quality shopping, culture (!), and social diversity to be here. For me, not having these regular surf ‘meetings’ is one of the little ‘misses.’ So even if you’re not into surfing but you’re up here when the wind is whistling feel free to pull up your hoodie and get into the chatting circle because having people from out of town ask about conditions is also a part of the worldwide surf meeting….

Litttttle Surfer Gurrrrrllll......

Mrs. The Big Blue Lake heading out