Tahoe Sightseeing


Hello Everyone. It’s been a year since my last Tahoe Nugget, but I intend to re-activate these little gems from Big Blue. I wanted to build a new website for the Nuggets using Word Press but alas — like for many of us — work and life usurped the little free time available so the format will remain the same for now.

In my assignments for a new column in Tahoe Weekly Magazine,
I have recently enjoyed many captivating hikes and bike rides in the region, of which I will be sharing with you over the summer. And, as always, it’s really the photographs that make these brief narratives shine.

To read the full version of these Out & About columns or any of the featured articles that I’ve written in the past year — Roots of Western Vigilantism, the Mexican-American War & Renegade Irish Battalion, or most recently an in-depth 5-part series on the building of the world’s first transcontinental railroad — they are all posted here.

On some days there’s precious little time to invest in a major outing in the Tahoe Basin, but if you’re near the state line on the North Shore take a stroll up to the old fire lookout above Crystal Bay, Nevada, for some jaw-dropping views of Big Blue.

Overlooking Crystal Bay, Nevada, during winter.

It’s a short quarter mile walk up a moderate grade to the overlook that offers expansive views down the length of Lake Tahoe. It’s a great jaunt for families because it’s not far or difficult and at the top there are modern bathrooms. There are also loop trails with informative plaques loaded with facts about the Tahoe forest. They describe the destructive logging practices of the second half of the 19th century when lumberjacks cut down most of the trees.

Informative plaques offer insight into the history.

Timber was milled into lumber at sites around Lake Tahoe before being flumed down to Nevada. The vast supply of Sierra wood was used in construction and to sustain Comstock mining operations. Today many of those statuesque pine giants are rotting beneath the touristy town of Virginia City, Nevada. Testament to how much timber was cut, if you gathered the 7 billion board feet of lumber and 10 million cords of fuel wood harvested from the Tahoe Sierra and laid it end to end, it would encircle Earth at the equator 53 times!

Looking west towards the Sierra Crest.

Lake Tahoe isn’t the only thing to see. Cirrus clouds of tiny ice particles refracted light waves to create a 22-degree halo around the sun. This one reminded me of the planet Saturn with its rings.

Originally built in 1936 at elevation 7,017 feet, the State Line Fire Lookout tower was dismantled in 2002 after technological advances in wildfire detection made human spotters too expensive and obsolete. The tower itself may be gone, but the nearly 360-degree views are incredible nonetheless.

Kings Beach (below) was named for Joe King — a card shark, bootlegger, and real estate developer. In 1958 Joe built a small store front for the Knudson family from Grass Valley so they could open the first Jimboy’s restaurant, a popular California taco franchise today.. Note how mountains along the North Shore are more subdued due to their volcanic origin. This photograph was purchased by Alaska Airlines for use in their in-flight magazine last year.

Looking out towards Brockway Point is the legendary Cal-Neva Hotel & Casino, owned by Frank Sinatra in the early 1960’s and currently going through renovations. A major seismic fault runs under the lake through this area, which created hot springs near the point. Campbell’s Hot Springs was one of the first resorts at North Lake Tahoe and by 1873 one of the most popular tourist stops at Big Blue.

Read the complete article here.


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Tahoe Sightseeing


After the wettest winter in the Tahoe Sierra since records began in 1871, it has been a treat this summer to watch the seasonal transition from Spring to Fall at Squaw Valley. A massive snowpack has given way to a bounty of colorful wildflowers and mountain scenery. Enjoy this photo essay of the majestic grandeur and subtle beauty that graced the High Country this year.

This Tahoe Nugget is dedicated to my good friend Greta in New Jersey who is battling a serious illness. I’m not a religious man, but any prayers or positive vibes sent Greta's way are much appreciated by her family and friends. 

At the end of June 2017, Squaw Valley was lush with verdant grass after an exceptionally wet winter. In the late 1800s and first half of the 20th century, sheep and cattle grazed nutritious timothy hay that naturally grew here. Note damaged fence from heavy snow load.

On June 22, 2017 near Squaw Valley's High Camp facility at 8,200', a stream of melt water had slowly carved out a section of the solid snowpack that was still about 13 feet deep. 

Everybody loves snow in the summertime! Two visitors walking their lucky pooches on July 8 near the top of the Siberia Express chairlift. It was over 100 degrees in the Sacramento Valley at that time. Environmentalist John Muir exhorted people to come to the mountains to refresh themselves physically and spiritually. 

Squaw Valley trail guide Kent (second from left) leads a wildflower hike on August 18. The scene reminded me of the movie "Sound of Music" with Julie Andrews. I first saw the performance as a play with my parents. It's a heart-warming story that was a favorite of mine when I was a child, and even today I still enjoy the songs and breathtaking scenery of the Austrian Alps.

Looking up towards Emigrant Peak at Squaw Valley on August 30, 2017.

This "saucer-like" snow patch looks as though it might have just landed there, but this snow deposition zone near Emigrant Peak always retains the white stuff late into the season. At this point (September 1, 2017), it's about 100 yards long and 15 feet deep. It may well make it into October.

This is a close-up of the snow as it slowly melts away from sun-heated rock.

A weak cold front blew through the Tahoe Sierra on August 30 with cooler temperatures, gusty winds and cumulus cloud development. This reminded me of a "snow-nado," a term I've never heard of and just made up.

Looking past blooming Rabbit Brush to Squaw Peak and the Palisades in the distance. Note the flat top of Squaw Peak near 9,000'. It was heavily excavated for the emplacement of an aviation beacon, which is still active and maintained today. There is a road for technicians as well as a large conduit for them to walk through in storm conditions.