Saturday, May 11, 2013

Keep Tahoe Blue People!

Lake Tahoe From Zephyr Cove at Dawn
Some people see the statement "Keep Tahoe Blue" as a rally cry for change and some people from Northern California associate it with a money making endeavor.  We see cars with the dark blue bumper sticker posted on them and its hard to make out the amorphous light blue shape of Lake Tahoe when you look close just like its hard to be sure where your money goes when you donate to Keep Tahoe Blue.  Has that money actually improved water clarity in the lake or kept it blue somehow?  I still love the stickers, but I'm a bit of a skeptic too.
I equally love "Keep Folsom Green" bumper stickers I see around Sacramento California sometimes.  These stickers are a parody of the Keep Tahoe Blue stickers and refer to Folsom Lake, which has a green hue or tint to the water. They also put an indistinct shape on the stickers for the lake (green) and poke fun at the idea of the Tahoe stickers.  I love a dry snappy sense of humor.  The funny thing is the green color of Folsom Lake is nice or aesthetically pleasing.

Regardless of what people think about these stickers, its important to maintain the water clarity in Lake Tahoe, which has suffered, since all the major development around the lake has taken place. How to approach the problem is another matter entirely.  One thing is clear:  golf courses and large commercial/residential developments are contributing runoff that's adversely affecting water clarity. This is a shame, because everybody wants to have a place up in Tahoe!  Unfortunately we need to stop developing land around the Lake Tahoe Basin.  We also need to work on better management of golf courses and other developed land to reduce harmful runoff of fertilizers and pesticides.

Here are a few fun facts about Lake Tahoe: 

Its an alpine lake sitting at over 6,000 feet of elevation (6,224') and is located between the Sierra Nevada mountain range (to the West) and the Carson range (to the East).  Some of the peaks around the lake reach over 10,000 feet of elevation.  Mount Tallac, which is the most well known peak near the lake sits at 9,735 feet.  Freel Peak, which is the highest peak near the lake sits at approximately 10,891 feet of elevation.

Lake Tahoe was created by a geologic block fault, which caused the land in the area to lower (down-dropped block).  This is a combination of tectonic forces and seismic activity.  Lake Tahoe is as unique as it is beautiful.

The average depth of the lake is 1,000 feet and the maximum depth is 1,645 feet, which makes it the second deepest lake in the US.  At its widest the lake reaches 22 miles across, which is amazing.  This is from North to South.  Along the East - West portion the minimum distance across Lake Tahoe is 12 miles.  It's a very large lake! Many of these fun facts were supplied by the US Geological Service (on their website).

The Lake Tahoe Basin is a wonderful place to visit.  The area near the lake is divided into North Shore and South Shore.  Both areas have great Resorts for skiing and boarding, but primarily the gambling casinos and major nightlife are in South Lake Tahoe (South Shore).  Squaw Valley is a Resort on the North side of the lake that hosted the Winter Olympics back in 1960.

Some other things to see around Lake Tahoe include the Desolation Wilderness and the village in South Lake Tahoe.  There's a gondola in the village that goes up to the top of the peak at Heavenly Mountain Resort (on the California side) and it runs all year along the famous Gun Barrel Ski Run.  There's also a large section of Heavenly in Nevada.  I personally like to ski there around the Stagecoach Lodge area.  I typically stay on the Nevada side, but you can cross over to the California side while skiing and boarding, but beware if you snowboard, since its hard to make the connection from Nevada back to California if you don't have poles to get you through the flat spot.

Gun Barrel is the famous ski run at Heavenly on the California side and it comes right down to the parking lot!  It's steep and full of big moguls.  Many of the snow board and ski events (races) are held at Gun Barrel like the Sprint USSA Freestyle Championships I attended recently as a Photographer.  Here's a photo I took of a skier going off the large aerial jump (booter) during the competition. It's a long exposure:


Lake Tahoe is also a nice place to enjoy during the Summer months with miles of hiking/biking trails and great weather.  It never gets too hot and not too many bugs to bite you at that elevation.  You can enjoy a number of water sports and activities on the lake.  The water is cold, but completely spectacular.  I suggest taking a look at Emerald Bay and the small island there.  It's located on the West end of the lake.  There are stunning peaks towering overhead and the water is a special shade of blue!  There's even a small alpine lake above the bay with a nice waterfall.  See the photo of Emerald Bay below:

I think the key is to allow people to enjoy Lake Tahoe while we also fight to protect and preserve it.  If you visit the area and fall in love with the lake like I have, then you'll have a desire to protect it.  We need to be mindful when we enter National Treasures like the Tahoe Basin and tread lightly.  For example, if we go on a hike around the lake, we must avoid leaving trash or other items behind.  You pack out what you pack in and clean up your campsite area.  Bring trash bags with you and keep everything together so you don't leave anything laying around.  Leave the land like you found it or in better shape!  Pickup trash if you find it laying around, even if you didn't leave it there.  Do your part to KEEP TAHOE BLUE!