Aug 27 2014

Saying Goodbye To Summer At The Truckee Sports Exchange


It snuck up on many of us this week, but it suddenly feels a bit more like fall this week. The kids are back in school and there’s already been a few nights of frost in my neighborhood. More importantly, nearly every local ski shop is planning big sales this weekend, and ski and snowboard movie premieres are just around the corner.

We’re excited to help the Truckee Sports Exchange in announcing its Customer Appreciation Day and End Of Summer Sale this Sunday, August 31st from 3 til 6 pm. Besides offering discounts on merchandise storewide, up to 70%, there’s a few extra little things going on:

• That nice little Tahoe SUP Woody that you may have seen at the Sports Exchange booth at Truckee Thursdays will finally be raffled off. As of last week, the chances of winning were still very good. On Sunday, customers at the party will receive an extra ticket in the raffle. More tickets will also be available for purchase. Tickets will also be drawn for extra prizes, in addition to the SUP. Proceeds from the raffle will go toward the Truckee Donner Land Trust.

• The Truckee Sports Exchange will be presenting the Truckee Donner Land Trust with a check toward the purchase of the Black Wall climbing area on Donner Summit. Owner Rob Cavallo and the Exchange staff have been working all summer to raise awareness and funds for the project.

• Food and beverages will also be on hand as well as some entertainment and emceeing by JD Hoss.

There’s been a lot of changes around the Sports Exchange this summer, with a major expansion in the back of the store and a newly forged partnership with the Cyclepaths bike shop and Tahoe Mountain Guides. We’re guessing that Cavallo will be announcing the official rebranding of the store as the Tahoe Sports Hub, as the photo above seems to indicate. It seems fitting as the Exchange was voted as the number one sporting goods store in the 2014 Tahoe Daily Tribune Best Of North Tahoe vote this summer.

Make sure you add the Truckee Sports Exchange onto your list of shops to visit this weekend. See you there!


Aug 27 2014

Andy Wertheim: Trust Your Instincts

Hello Friends,

My instinct was to turn back and head for the car on our afternoon mountain bike ride yesterday.  The sky had been pretty clear all day, but was beginning to fill with clouds, dark clouds.  Of course, the weather forecast indicated a very slight chance of thunder storms in the Sierra, so we assumed the dark clouds were not coming our way.  At least we felt strongly that they would not dump moister onto our heads.  On the other hand, I really do not believe any weather forecasts and looking into the sky made me nervous.  I guess I should have trusted my instinct which was to load the bikes back into the car and wait for another day.

We started from the Tahoe City Nordic Center at Dollar Hill and road west to Anton Meadows which we skirted on the north side.  This leads to the Fiberboard Freeway which we reached with the sun still shining down on us.  It is a rather long climb up the paved Fiberboard to a trail known as the OTB (Over The Bar trail).  This trail has been upgraded over the past few years and is actually very nice and not terribly technical.  It switches back and forth through the forest, occasionally offering up rocky sections, but nothing that cannot be rather easily ridden.  The forest is beautiful and usually bare of mountain bike riders.

It was Monday.  At the point where we might have turned back, which is where the trail leaves the Fiberboard and heads downhill, I heard thunder in the background.  We winced and made the decision to move forward.  Our goal was to hook up to the Deer Creek Trail after riding down the OTB.  The Deer Creek Trail ends at Hwy. 89.  Everything was fine until we reached the bottom of the OTB.  The sky had grown very dark as we dropped down the OTB. Thunder grew loader with each pedal.


Finally, the sky opened and hail dropped in sheets to the ground.  It was not something you would want to walk or ride in so we found a dry spot in a clump of small thick fir trees.  Of course, we continued to get wet and cold with each passing minute.  The hail did not let up.  Thunder and lightning crashed all around us.  I was lucky enough to have a water resistant jacket with me, but my ridding partner’s cover was not water resistant.  He was soaked and freezing cold.  After waiting for an extended time hoping the shower would let up (normally a thunder shower does not last very long), we decided we needed to get going or we would be stuck in the woods all night.  Water was pouring down the dirt road that led to the Deer Creek Trail and rushing down the trail.  We walked the bikes, partly to avoid being hammered with hail and partly because my partner’s fingers were too cold to grab onto the bike handles.  We walked in mud, water, rain and hail down the trail pushing our bikes.  Finally, we warmed a little and the rain let up.  I jumped on my bike and started riding.  This was a more level portion of the trail.  I just figured walking would take too long and we needed to make some progress.  The rest of the ride consisted of walking and riding until we reached a bridge over the Truckee River leading to Hwy. 89.

Just as we reached the bridge, which is just north of the entrance to Squaw Valley, the sky opened again and rain poured down.  We looked for shelter, but gave up and just sucked it up and rode back to my office where we stood dripping wet, covered in mud, and ready for a warm shower and change of clothes.

Next time I will trust my instincts. Enjoy your day,

Andy Wertheim

Aug 25 2014

Weighing In On Squaw Valley’s Contributions


In the last couple of weeks, we noticed that Squaw Valley has been in the news for making some positive contributions to the local community. Last weekends Peaks & Paws event in the Village was both a great way to keep the Village lively during the summer, and also served as a nice fundraiser for the Humane Society of Truckee Tahoe. We also saw in the media and via email that Squaw Valley, and its customers, via the Green Bucks program, donated $75,000 to the Tahoe Fund and the Truckee River Watershed Council. It would be wrong of us not to acknowledge these positive moves by Squaw Valley managers.

But we can’t help but wonder how these positive contributions compare when weighed against the contributions made to the Save Olympic Valley campaign, which intends to stop the incorporation effort in Olympic Valley. The last reported figure for contributions to the campaign were reported at $239,532.48, in an August 1st filing stating semi-annual contributions by Squaw Valley Ski Holdings. A quick review of that filing shows that 100% of those funds benefitted Save Olympic Valley, which is fighting against the will of local citizens.

We’ve been curious to see the report for the month of July, as the KSL and SVSH legal and media teams have been running in high gear lately. Full page ads have once again appeared in the local media and a team of lawyers was sent to the last LAFCO meeting to insist that Placer County’s LAFCO Board make it virtually impossible for incorporation proponents to successfully place an initiative on a ballot. We’re pretty sure those lawyers are not working on the case pro bono, based on payments for legal services so far.

But those filings are not yet available. We’re no experts at campaign finance laws, but a quick search of the internet turned up the answer. Here’s what we found:

A committee primarily formed to support or oppose a LAFCO proposal must file monthly statements (instead of quarterly and semi-annual statements) from the time circulation of a petition begins until a measure is placed on the ballot or, if a measure is not placed on the ballot, until the committee terminates. The report is due on the 15th day of each calendar month, covering the prior calendar month.  -

So one of two things has happened, either Save Olympic Valley has not properly filed by the August 15th deadline, or Placer County has not filed the reports on their website. Previous reports have been posted in a very timely fashion. We’re guessing that it’s more likely that the reports were not filed, either through oversight by the SOV (cough, cough…Squaw Valley) staff, or because of the growing backlash over the amount of money Squaw Valley  Ski Holdings and KSL have spent fighting the incorporation.

At some point, we hope that SVSH and KSL come to their senses and choose to work with the people involved in the incorporation effort, known as Incorporate Olympic Valley (IOV). It has been stated countless times that IOV is not anti-development, and that they are working only to bring a  greater local voice into the decision making process in Olympic Valley.

In an effort to make that happen, we would like to clear up a misunderstanding between SVSH and IOV. Officers of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings have repeatedly stated that a member of the IOV Board said that they hoped to “bring KSL to its knees.” The problem with that statement is that it did not come from anyone within the IOV organization. That statement was made by me, as a representative of, at one of the earliest IOV meetings, where each person was asked to state their reason for attendance at the meeting. I am not a member of the board, and I do not live in Olympic Valley, so you will not find me running for any political office in Olympic Valley. At, we have a longstanding record of expressing our displeasure with Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and KSL Capital regarding their management of Alpine Meadows as an extension of Squaw Valley.

After three years of drought, with limited progress on the proposed village and assumedly eager investors, we can only assume that the senseless use of money in fighting the will of local residents must be cause for reflection. It’s time to call on Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and KSL Capital to make some expenditures in working with the Olympic Valley community to achieve the best possible future for all residents and visitors in Olympic Valley.


Aug 22 2014

Fifteen (Or More) Great Reasons To Attend The Lost Sierra Hoedown

Shot entirely on super 8mm film, this is the story of the first ever Lost Sierra Hoedown. Super 8mm was the only way to capture the true spirit of the hoedown in all its grainy glory. Song: “Lost Sierra Hoedown” by Bobcat Rob Armenti

Fall is definitely starting to creep its way into our lives, and that means that the time is nearing for the second annual Lost Sierra Hoedown. The event takes place from September 18th through 21st at the Johnsville Historic Ski Bowl, an hour north of Truckee. This week, event organizers released fifteen great reasons to attend this year’s Hoedown. They could have just listed the performers, which is a very impressive list, for a festival that started last year with very little financial backing. Here’s their list:

1. An absolutely beautiful location and venue.
2. Onsite camping in a shaded forest environment. 
3. Sixteen awesome bands over 4 days for an affordable price.
4. Supporting the re-opening of a community non-profit ski area.
5. Swimming in Eureka Lake 
6. Hiking to Eureka Peak
7. Sierra Nevada Brewery
8. The Brewing Lair
9. Electric Blue Elephant food truck
10. Cuccias Pizza and Sandwiches
11. A free Klean Kanteen pint cup with your ticket.
12. Lower temperatures than the mid summer scorcher festivals.
13. The Autumnal Equinox moon
14. Dancing your booty off under the bright stars.
15. Spending 4 days with new friends, old friends, and family

Since then people have added their own additions to the list:

16. Awesome tees and shirts from Yeah Yeah Pony Prince
17. No plastic cups or trash scattered around the venue
18. That unique Lost Sierra skyline at night
19. Seeing other people discover the magic of Johnsville for the first time
20. The old lodge feels like a time machine
21. The friendly vibe of the staff, performers and families in attendance

In order to protect the venue, ticket sales are limited to only 500 tickets, and it will not be long before they are sold out. You should definitely check out the complete details at and make your plans before it’s too late. Even though you may only attend one or two days of the festival, the ticket is still a fantastic deal, and all profits go right back into getting that Mainline lift installed at the Ski Bowl.

There’s a fantastic list of headliners: Dead Winter Carpenters, Miner, The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit…but the complete schedule is available here. We’re sharing our favorite acts below.

It’s unbelievable how quickly Miner’s star has risen since last year’s Hoedown. Justin and Kate Miner are joined by a few other family members to bring what can best be described as “California music”. They’ll be playing at CBC on August 29th. Check out their show and you’ll be hooked too.

The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit will return to the Hoedown as the closer on Saturday night. The band is lead by two of the best songwriters imaginable, Willie Tea Taylor and Chris Doud. From ballads to rockers, they have it covered. Doud and Taylor are also scheduled for solo sets. We’ve seen the GLTSO four times since last year’s hoedown. It never gets old.

Willie Watson will be closing out the Hoedown on Sunday evening. Watson, formerly of the Old Crow Medicine Show, recently released his solo CD and has been selling out shows all over the US this summer. Watson’s new takes on Woodie Guthrie’s songs are awe-inspiring.

We could go on forever because the lineup is incredible. I wouldn’t wait much longer to buy your tickets for this year’s Lost Sierra Hoedown! We hope to see you there!


Aug 20 2014

Andy Wertheim: A Visit To Emerald Bay

Hello Friends,

There has been a hint of fall in the air the last few days.  The days are getting shorter.  The sun is rising later in the morning. Some bushes, and even trees, are showing golden leaves.  The morning temperature is just a little cooler, although the days remain nice and warm.

rubiconmapandprofileThis past weekend, we loaded kayaks onto the roof tops of our cars and drove down the west shore to Bliss State Park.  Bliss has one of the more beautiful sandy beaches on Tahoe, with a parking area just off the water, making it easy to launch a kayak.  The lake bottom in this cove is sandy (decomposed granite) which gives the water a turquoise color in the shallow area that is a lovely contrast to the darker blue hue found a little further out where the lake bottom drops off.

The earlier in the morning one starts this trip, the flatter the water.  On a normal day during the summer the water is flat, followed by chop created from motorized boats, and then bigger chop as the wind picks up in the early afternoon. 

We paddled along the shore observing Osprey feeding the young who were chirping loudly for mom to bring food to their nest.  There nests tend to be located high on the top of a dead tree.  The water is deep along the shore between Bliss and Emerald Bay offering an azure color that is mesmerizing. 

We climbed up to the Tea House located on an island in the middle of Emerald Bay to sit and gaze at the inspiring view.  It is a beautiful view, but often cluttered with kayaks, paddle boards, and motor boats.  There were too many other people on the island as well, which detracts from the serene spot it should be, but it is still summer.  Our trip back was a little more exciting as the lake became choppy, requiring more arm strength to paddle.  In the end it turned out to be a near perfect day.  I think we all had fun, and we all got a good workout.  If you like kayaking, I would recommend this tour.  It is even better later in September or October, when the lake is less crowded with motorized boats.
Enjoy your day,

Andy Wertheim

Aug 18 2014

Local Geoscientist Challenges Squaw Valley Water Supply Assessment


When 58% of California is currently in a state of “exceptional drought”, water is on many people’s minds. As Lake Tahoe approaches its natural rim, leaving boat ramps and rafters high and dry, it’s hard to imagine there really is enough water available to support much more development in the Tahoe basin. But the Water Supply Assessment released by the Squaw Valley Public Utility District last month suggested that there is enough water to support the needs of several proposed developments within Olympic Valley over the next 25 years. This unexpected conclusion drew the attention of local environmental groups and several local scientists that have been studying Tahoe hydrology for years.


Hatchett does some field testing in the Tahoe basin...probably not last season.

Hatchett does some field testing in Tahoe

One of them, Benjamin Hatchett, approached us with his concerns. Hatchett is no stranger to weather and precipitation. Hatchett has earned degrees in Physical Geography (B.S.) and Atmospheric Sciences (M.S.) and is currently working on a Ph.D. in Geography studying climate dynamics and paleohydrology in the Great Basin. Over the last 12 years he has been keen observer and reporter of weather in the Tahoe Basin and eastern Sierra.

Hatchett’s concerns focus on the narrow range of data used in completing the WSA, an 18 year period spanning 1993 through 2011. You really don’t need a scientific degree to figure out that 18 years is not a long enough time period to get an accurate picture of what sort of precipitation is “normal” for the Tahoe Basin. Hatchett’s alternative analysis looks at 90 years of data, from 1922 through 2013. It leads to a significantly different conclusion than the WSA.


The graph above represents data from Central Sierra 5 Station Index, a widely recognized data set used in water planning that correlates well with Squaw Valley data. Hatchett points out that it does not match exactly with the Squaw Valley data used in the WSA.

• The water years used in the Squaw Valley WSA are colored in red

• The twenty wettest years during the longer study period are green

• The twenty driest years during the longer study period are brown

Hatchett makes a point of noting that the shorter study period used in the WSA includes 7 of the wettest years, but includes only 1 of the driest years. This leads to what may be an artificially inflated “average precipitation” in the WSA study. Using the shorter WSA time period, the estimated average precipitation is 42.7 inches, while the longer study period produces an estimated average precipitation of only 36.6 inches. The difference is significant, as the WSA number is roughly 117% of the longer term average.

Hatchett is not suggesting that the WSA was designed to intentionally mislead anyone. He only suggests that the study would be far more robust using the longer study period. Hatchett is also concerned that the WSA does not look at the potential affects of a longer term drought scenario. Although we are currently in a third very dry year, there are far drier years in the historical record, and much longer lasting megadroughts.

According to Hatchett, local scientists Scott Stine, Scott Mensing, John Kleppe, and Larry Benson have all studied the megadrought occurrences in the Tahoe area. Stine wrote a paper in the journal Nature in 1994 (Stine1994) that first published the ages of tree stumps found in Walker Lake, Mono Lake, and Tenaya Lake. The ages of the trees found in Fallen Leaf lake (from John Kleppe and Scott Mensing) correlate very well with Stine’s work. The data shows these droughts lasted 100-150 years, interspersed by a 90 year wet period, and took place during Medieval times.

Lastly, Hatchett notes the WSA fails to address any future climate scenarios adequately. He suggests that “many millions of dollars have been spent getting global climate model data into forms easily digested by hydrologic models for impact analysis.” Hatchett wrote about the use of the models in studying the Incline Creek watershed in 2012.

We showed the numbers from Hatchett’s study to Tom Mooers, Executive Director of Sierra Watch. Sierra Watch has kept a keen eye on the development proposals in Olympic Valley, especially as it might relate to water demands. Here was his comment on the WSA:

It looks like it answered a very narrow question, as required by law, with a severely limited set of assumptions.  But it left many more unanswered. – Tom Mooers, Executive Director, Sierra Watch

Updated 8/19/14: We also ran the data set by Mike Geary, General Manager of the Squaw Valley Public Services District. Geary countered by saying that the calibrated numerical groundwater model relies on data specifically from Squaw Valley. The model also requires data on groundwater elevation, pumping and stream flows. According to Geary, that data is not available prior to 1993. Geary felt that using the complete suite of information in their model gave them the best possible answer.

The question of water availability within Olympic Valley is an important one. The alternative water supply identified by SVPSD is the widely unpopular and expensive “8 Mile Pipe” proposal to bring water from Martis Valley to Olympic Valley. The last estimated cost of the project exceeded $30 million and the project would create a serious disruption in the Martis Valley, the town of Truckee, the Highway 89 corridor and Olympic Valley during pipeline construction. It would be unfortunate if entitlements for new construction in Olympic Valley were granted before the completion of a more robust water supply assessment, forcing the “8 Mile Pipe” as the only solution.

Updated 8/25/14: Tom Mooers released a more specific editorial piece to Moonshine Ink that stated Sierra Watch’s position on water in Olympic Valley. Here’s the link to Moonshine Ink.

Aug 17 2014

Andy Wertheim: A New Book To Consider

Hello Friends,

Our weather continues to assist with the fire danger in Tahoe.  The skies seem to fill with clouds daily and often drop hail, rain, or at least block the sun from drying out the ground.  This is great for the flowers and to keep dust down, but it makes it difficult to time outdoor activities.  Yesterday a client walked into the office who was out riding the bike trail soaking wet.  Thunder and lightening cancelled the Sunday afternoon music at Common Beach and forced the Tuesday Blues concert indoors.  The air is cool today.  There has not been much wind which is making the paddle boarding, water skiing, and kayaking pretty good on smooth water.

werthbookThis type of weather is good for reading which brings to a place where I intend to plug a new book that happens to have been written by my father.  The book chronicles my father’s life from his early years growing up in Germany to his arrival in the United States at a young age and follows his life in America from military service to a successful career in Landscape Architecture.  The book, which he has self published, just became available.  I am reading it now and find it fascinating.  Of course he is my father, but the detail that he remembers from his childhood, the extremely difficult situations he endured in Germany as he describes them, along with his on going trials and tribulations in a new country make for interesting reading.  Because my father, as well as my entire family have been so involved in Alpine Meadows over the years, I thought some of you might be interested in reading his life story.  My father just completed this book at the age of 94.  The book is called “Chasing Spring” by Ernest Wertheim, and is available from in paperback or hardback.

Enjoy your day,

Andy Wertheim

Aug 12 2014

If You’re Needing Art That Says “Tahoe”…Jump Now!


We’re stoked to announce that local photographer Matt Bansak is having a sale on prints this week to celebrate the launch of his new website. Bansak is a familiar face around North Tahoe. Besides being a photographer, he also coaches skiing at Squaw, is an avid sailor on Tahoe, and writes for How can you not respect a guy that celebrated his last birthday by mountain biking, road biking, kayaking, sailing, jet skiing, playing billiards, slacklining, hiking, floating, swimming, skiing, and mini golfing – all in one epic birthday adventure? We were super stoked to have him support and we’re happy to give him a plug today.

Prints are offered at 50% off through Thursday at Print sizes vary from 3×5 through large posters and panoramas. Just use the code SAVEHALF upon checkout to get the generous discount. Prints can be ordered bare or with mounting, matting and framing options. Your walls and your eyes will thank you.


Aug 12 2014

August Turns, Not In Tahoe…A Lot Of Them

There’s some of us that just can’t get enough skiing. It’s not that we don’t enjoy hiking, climbing, and paddle boarding – there’s just this little voice inside that tells us we must find snow for sliding. Many of us that are addicted to snow are proud of keeping a streak of consecutive months skiing and riding, this month being my 47th in a row. While some might see that number as impressive, I have friends that are into the 100′s and have run into people that are above 200 consecutive months. The extreme drought situation over the last three years has been progressively more challenging for year round skiers, as we noted in last weeks story on the October Patch.

Fortunately, Timberline Resort at Mount Hood is open nearly year round, offering a chance for snow addicts to enjoy lift served turns…a lot of them. So generally once each August, I find the time to make the 10 hour drive to Mount Hood for a couple of days of lift served skiing. Timberline operates only two chairs during the summer season. The Magic Mile chair takes you from the Timberline Lodge to the Palmer snowfield, where the Palmer chair offers 1500′ of vertical rise.

While a large part of the snowfield is devoted to racing lanes and terrain parks for camps, a public lane and a public park are available. In normal years, there’s also plenty of “off piste” terrain on the skier’s right side of the Palmer lift. Three years of low snow have taken their toll though, and off piste terrain was much more limited this year. Although the public lane can be crowded in the morning, some of the best skiing and riding is available mid-day, when the race camps finish training, and the heavily salted slopes in the race lanes turn into perfect corn. Lift tickets are reasonably priced during the summer season at $62 for adults.

There’s plenty of good options for overnight stays near Timberline. The Timberline Lodge itself is an impressive work of art from a 1930′s WPA project. Rooms are not cheap and are generally booked early. There’s a couple of inns and motels in Government Camp, which is 6 miles down the hill. There are extensive cabin and condo options available through VRBO. Many people choose to camp, as the weather near Government Camp is comfortably warm during the summer season.

As always, you can click on any picture to see a larger version.

Aug 07 2014

August Turns In Tahoe

It’s been just a bit too busy at work to grab my August turns yet, but my summer ski mentor Steve Fargan has a nose for finding those turns. With 130 months in a row now under his belt, he actually knows where to look. Sadly, the October Patch, near Carson Pass, is one of the few areas left to find snow in Tahoe. The October Patch barely made it through September last year, and this year, it looks like August will be it.

Steve had a chance to get a few turns in with his dogs Makisha and Penny this week. Luckily the snow had been smoothed out by Matt Bansak from, who we introduced to the October Patch last fall. I have to respect Steve’s dedication to the sport of patch skiing. Not only is he known as the “king of patch skiers” on ski forums, he runs a small site called to document his effort. He didn’t even legitimately need these turns as we’re heading to Mount Hood this week to pick up more summer turns…a lot of them.

The October Patch is located on Carson Pass just west of Roundtop Lake. The approach hike is just under 3 miles from the Woods Lake trailhead. More skiers and riders will mean fewer sun cups for everyone. :) We’ve also heard of some decent patches on the north side of Castle Peak and in Desolation Wilderness.

All photos are courtesy of Steve Fargan and Michele Nelson.

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