Lake Tahoe Myths Continue To Surface

October 25, 2011

The legendary stories associated with Lake Tahoe are more numerous than the number of humps supposedly seen on the back of Tahoe Tessie.

For whatever reason, the alpine lake has a rich history of mythical accounts. In fact, when famed marine biologist Jacques Cousteau led an expedition to explore the depths of Lake Tahoe in the early 1970s, he saw something so astonishing he told the media “the world is not ready for what is down there.”

What would have caused such a world-renowned oceanographer to be so alarmed? Tahoe’s version of the Loch Ness monster (Tahoe Tessie)? The Kraken? A fresh-water version of Atlantis? A slew of dead, still intact Mafia bodies all standing on the bottom in cement-filled shoes?

What he saw that day will never be known as he has long since passed away. One thing is for certain, though, it had nothing to do with Lake Tahoe as there is no record of Cousteau ever visiting the area, let alone leading a deep-water expedition. Yet, tales such as Cousteau’s Tahoe trip continue to surface like Tessie’s tail.

Perhaps it’s because the oligotrophic, dark blue water causes waves and shadows to appear like something else is present. Maybe it’s the simple fact that the lake is so deep it makes people believe a different ecosystem supporting new and exotic creatures – perhaps a plesiosaur – may exist.

While some have fed off accounts of other locations, such as the Scottish highlands, most others evolved from the Washoe Indians who told many fabulous stories to the first settlers who moved into the area long ago.

A singing fish living in Meeks Bay, a bird who lives at the bottom of the lake and rises up to snatch people when its hungry, and of course a large dinosaur-looking monster are all said to inhabit the alpine body of water, according to old reports.

Despite being completely mapped by scientists, another popular fictitious belief is the lake is bottomless and contains several large caverns that connect deep underground with Pyramid Lake in the Nevada desert.

There is actually one yarn that is still told on occasion by locals about a sturgeon that lived in Pyramid Lake showing up in the waters of Lake Tahoe. It did so by following one of these water passageways deep under the city of Reno and the Sierra Nevada.

How they were able to determine it was the same sturgeon and not transported by a conspiracy-theorist angler is still a mystery. Also, while rumors abound, there still isn’t one confirmed case of a sturgeon being caught in Lake Tahoe.

In the end, the mythical and legendary stories continue to swirl like snowflakes in winter. The reasons are unknown, although adding to the lure of Lake Tahoe and helping tourism is definitely one of them. The fact that some people actually believe they saw something odd lurking just beneath the surface, something that can not be explained, is another.

Whatever is behind it all, the fish tales continue – especially in the Meeks Bay area, where they are much more melodious.

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Lake Tahoe a Winter Resort Wonderland

October 19, 2011

All those searching for the perfect ski destination this winter might want to take a look in the direction of Lake Tahoe.

There are fabulous locations throughout the United States that provide superb alpine terrain for skiers and snowboarders, such as Vail, Park City, Jackson Hole, Stowe, and Aspen. While each area is a superb winter getaway in and of itself, the number of other ski resort options in the general vicinity are usually very limited.

All travelers hope their next family vacation goes as perfectly as possible. After all, because of work and other obligations most people are only able to vacation once or twice a year. Throw in the cost of travel, room and board, and lift tickets, and the pressure for the time away to go as well as it can grows intense.

Then there is the issue of snow. If a specific resort doesn’t get any precipitation for an extended period of time or is hit by unseasonably warm temperatures, levels may get extremely low and conditions very slushy and even rocky. This may be enough to put a rather large dent in one’s vacation – and his or her ski or snowboard.

Then there’s Lake Tahoe.

With a slew of major, top-notch ski resorts all within an hour’s drive of each other, the options for winter-bound vacationers are near endless. Considering they are all ideally situated at different locations in and around the lake and all at various elevations greatly increases the chances that several resorts will have the perfect snow conditions.

The list of world-renown ski resorts all within a quick morning drive of each other is quite impressive: Kirkwood, Heavenly Valley, Northstar-at-Tahoe, Alpine Meadows. Squaw Valley, Mt. Rose, and Sugar Bowl. Then there are other fantastic resorts designed ideally for families that also have black diamond slopes ready to challenge any novice or expert: Homewood, Sierra-at-Tahoe, Donner Ski Ranch, Diamond Peak, and Boreal to name a few.

With so many resorts to choose from all within or next to the Tahoe Basin, it’s no wonder many expert ski officials are pushing for the Winter Olympics to return to the area.

Vacation time is limited, especially when it comes to skiing and snowboarding as the there are only a few months to choose from out of the year. That is why anybody planning a winter getaway might want to select a destination that hosts multiple superb ski resorts.

Not only will it increase the chances that the snow conditions will be optimal, but skiers and snowboarders get to try a variety of different runs instead of the same old terrain every day.

In the end, it’s a pretty popular viewpoint: when it comes to selecting the best place to spend a winter vacation, Lake Tahoe may be a vision of perfection.


It’s a Fact – Lake Tahoe Pretty Cool

October 10, 2011

Anybody who has ever been to Lake Tahoe knows what a unique place it is. While the natural alpine beauty is remarkable, there are a few other cool facts that make it such a hot vacation destination.

For one, Lake Tahoe is known in the scientific world as oligotrophic. That means that it is still relatively free of the nutrients, such as phosphorous and nitrogen, that lead to algae growth and a decline in water clarity. The increase in erosion and pollution runoff as a result of the ever-expanding human population have resulted in most lakes around the country – and the world – becoming eutrophic.

Despite the year-round population surrounding it, Lake Tahoe remains classified as oligotrophic. While the clarity of the lake is, unfortunately, decreasing each year, that is pretty darn cool. Other facts that make Lake Tahoe even cooler:

* It is the largest alpine lake in North America.

* With a depth of 1,645 feet, it’s the second deepest lake in the USA (Crater Lake, Ore., is #1)

* It is 22 miles long and 12 miles wide. The shoreline is 71 miles long (42 miles in California, 29 in Nevada).

*If completely drained, the amount of water in the lake would cover the entire state of California 14 inches deep (it roughly contains 39 trillion gallons of water).

* The amount of water lost to evaporation each day (if it were able to be recovered), is enough to supply the daily water needs of most large cities.

* While there are an estimated 63 streams that flow into the lake, there is only one outlet: The Truckee River.

* Most bodies of water eventually lead to the ocean, but the Truckee River travels eastward into the Nevada desert and flows into Pyramid Lake.

* The lake was formed about 2 to 3 million years ago by normal geological faulting (block faulting). A fracture in the earth’s crust caused blocks of land to move up (Carson range on the east and Sierra Nevada on west) and down (Tahoe Basin).

* The Lake was first named “Lake Bigler” after John Bigler, the third governor of California. While the US Department of Interior did introduce the name Lake Tahoe in 1862, it didn’t formally receive it until 1945.

* The first documented European ever to see Lake Tahoe was explorer and surveyor John C. Fremont.

* The original native inhabitants of the region were the Washoe tribe. The name Tahoe (DaOwAga) translates to “edge of the lake.”

* Despite being at an elevation of 6,225, Lake Tahoe never freezes.

* While some winter days can bring lots of snow, in more than 50 years of weather history, 80% of the days have been classified as sunny.

* The Tahoe Basin averages 8.3 inches of rain and 216 (18 feet) of snow every year.

While there are many interesting facts about Lake Tahoe, the beautiful alpine setting may be the primary one that keeps bringing people back each and every year. All the fantastic winter and summer outdoor activities help too.

Whatever the reasons, Lake Tahoe is a clearly a cool place to visit.


Ski Season Just a few Snow Ball Throws Away

October 4, 2011

It may not be enough to hit the slopes quite yet, but with this week’s forecast calling for the white stuff in the Sierra, people got black diamonds on their mind.

“Snow accumulation of 3 to 8 inches at higher elevations,” stated a National Weather Service forecast for Wednesday, Oct. 5. “Snow level will be 6500 feet decreasing to around 5000 feet in the afternoon. Southwest winds 15 to 25 mph. Gusts up to 60 mph in the morning.”

With near 90 degree temperatures just a few days ago in the Sacramento area and high 70s in and around Lake Tahoe, this storm seems to be taking folks by surprise. In fact, the weather service reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned travelers in the Sierra not to take this early storm too lightly as it could bring heavy snow and strong winds.

While the storm may be fierce at times, warmer temperatures are due back later in the week. That means most of the white stuff will melt away well before anybody straps on a pair of skis or steps into a snowboard. Yet, the idea of it actually snowing in the Sierra has many people gearing up for the upcoming winter season.

Adding to the excitement is the news of Alpine Meadows merging with Squaw Valley. Not only are these two of the best ski resorts in Northern California, but both are on a short list for tops in the country.

“This was simply about the implementation of a vision,” said Andy Wirth, CEO of Squaw Valley. “A vision of something greater and pursuing a tremendous opportunity on behalf of our guests.”

Since the region in between both resorts is owned by a third party, it should be noted that users will not be able to ski or snowboard between the two. Come November, however, there will be a shuttle service running between the ski areas and connecting the two may be investigated in the future, officials said.

Yet, talk about ski resorts and snow fall in the mountains have people putting away their golf clubs and dusting off their skis. And since it’s still early October, maybe it’s not too far-fetched to, as Irving Berlin might put it, “dream of a white Halloween.”