Jul 26 2014

The Wall Street Journal Takes Note Of The Battle At Squaw Valley

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We had heard rumors that a writer from the Wall Street Street Journal was in town last week interviewing people about the Village at Squaw Valley. We’ve said before that the story is starting to attract some national attention. The WSJ does a nice job in pointing out that the fight over the future of Squaw Valley is not a unique situation. There’s similar battles going on at most major resorts all across the United States, and likely in other parts of the world too.

Hopefully things in our area will not escalate to the point they did in Vail. In 1998, eco-terrorists burned down the Two Elks Lodge at Vail. It was a striking statement about the clash between developers and people looking to preserve mountain communities and recreation opportunities for future generations. Fortunately, things have remained reasonably civil and we applaud that progress has been made in reducing the scale of the proposed Village. Still, we can’t make decisions based on what has been reduced. The initial plan proposed in 2011 was likely a red herring, that was never going to be built. Approval of the project should be based very specifically being proposed, not at what has been cut out.

We continue to encourage people to stay involved with the process, regardless of your position regarding incorporation of the Valley. The Placer County staff has assured us that they are really working to achieve the best plan for the Valley.

Here’s the link to the latest article at the Wall Street Journal.

 

Jul 23 2014

Squaw Valley & KSL Spend Another $109,000 Fighting The Incorporation Of Olympic Valley

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 10.40.45 AMThe numbers are in for the month of June. They are not surprising, but they are a bit sickening. Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, which is owned and controlled by KSL Capital, contributed another $109,000 dollars during the month of June to the Save Olympic Valley group. SOV is comprised of a very small but vocal group of second homeowners that are opposed to the incorporation effort within Olympic Valley. To date, SVSH and KSL have been the sole contributors to SOV, with contributions totaling nearly $240,000 over the last 3 months.

Although the SOViets have been focusing their campaign on fear, such as the possibility of more taxation and more government, we think KSL is fearful of change. Monday’s meeting of the Placer County Board of Supervisors in Squaw Valley made it clear to casual viewers that the relationship between Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, KSL Capital and Placer County is very tight. There were moments during the meeting where Placer County officials seemed to function more as cheerleaders, rather than the watchdogs that we need them to be.

It’s no mystery that Olympic Valley residents are looking to protect the Valley for future generations. Most of the population of Olympic Valley is not ready to accept a 90,000 square foot Mountain Adventure Center and 108 foot building heights as an “acceptable compromise.” Those that are willing to accept it have one thing in common, they are hoping to gain financially from the potential of an increased number of visitors, especially those that can afford to own a time share in the Valley.

We applaud that Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and KSL have been a positive force in the community in supporting the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe, High Fives and the Tahoe Food Hub, as well as other organizations. We’re beginning to think that their contributions to the negative smear campaign, know as Save Olympic Valley, may far outweigh all of their contributions toward the betterment of the community.

As local citizens, we can only begin to imagine the number of lay-offs that could have been avoided during last year’s poor snow season with a quarter of a million dollar investment in people, not profits. When the snow finally arrived last February, how many times were we told that they just didn’t have the staff to operate available terrain at Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley. We are all affected by SVSH and KSL’s choice to spend money to stop the will of Olympic Valley voters.

Here’s the the link to the latest Save Olympic Valley financial report at the Placer County elections office. As always, your comments are welcome, even if your ideas don’t match ours.

Jul 22 2014

The Squaw Valley Village Specific Plan: Still Missing Specifics

SVSH CEO Andy Wirth and VP Chevis Hosea address the crowd at Base Camp today.

SVSH CEO Andy Wirth and VP Chevis Hosea address the crowd at Base Camp today.

The Placer County Board of Supervisors held an informational meeting regarding the Squaw Valley Village Specific Plan at the Base Camp marketing center today. There was a ton of information presented by both Placer County staff and Squaw Valley staff. None of it was really new information, and people seeking specifics may have left the meeting disappointed. There was a different sort of information available today. More on that later…

For now, we’ll stick to what we heard from the team of speakers. The chairperson of the Board was not in attendance today, so District 5 Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery welcomed the crowd, numbering around 100, and introduced the speakers for today.

Alex Fisch, Project Manager for Placer County

Fisch began the presentation by giving an overview of the progress made since Squaw Valley Ski Holdings first filed their plan in December 2011. Over the course of the last 32 months, the scale and scope of the project has been scaled back from 1275 units to 850 units, and a number of changes have been made to accommodate the wishes of the local population. Those changes include preserving some of Squaw’s historical locations, preserving some amount of day parking for day skiers, a reduction in the size of the Mountain Adventure Center, and the addition of an eastern parcel to accommodate employee housing.

Fisch attributed the reductions in the project to the efforts of Placer County staff and SVSH staff at getting public input on the project. Fisch also focused on the benefits that the project would bring to Olympic Valley, in the form of planned upgrades to parks, increased numbers of trails around the valley and the employment that would be potentially created by the project.

Fisch expects that the draft of the Environmental Impact Report will be available in December or January. Later, during the Q & A phase of the meeting, Fisch noted that large numbers of specific details about the Village plan would not be available until “Appendix B” of the Specific Plan is released much later in the process. This was a disappointment to people in the audience that had questions about specifics today.

Andy Wirth, Squaw Valley Ski Holdings CEO

The crowd moved into the Base Camp map room for the rest of the presentations. Andy Wirth took the stage and continued to share the story of how much community input SVSH has received regarding the Village Specific Plan. Once again we were reminded that over 300 meetings have been held to seek input. Wirth suggested that the level of community input on the Village project “is an unprecedented amount of involvement.” He also let the crowd know that they are not done listening, and that they were still open to listening to new solutions.

Wirth then focused on the market segment that Tahoe is missing. Wirth, a member of the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority Board of Trustees, reported that incoming flights were down approximately 40% in recent years. There has been a corresponding drop in long term stays in the north Tahoe market. It’s these destination tourists that Wirth is hoping to attract with the Village redevelopment project. He suggested that these “4-5 night visitors” were the key to revitalizing all segments of the north Tahoe economy.

Wirth finished his commentary by reminding the audience that SVSH was not planning on tackling the entire Village project at once. There will be several phases to the project, with Wirth stating that those phases would extend about 18 years into the future. Fisch later stated that the entitlements granted for the project would not expire for 25 years, and could be extended if the market could not absorb all of the real estate units within that time.

Chevis Hosea, Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, Vice President of Development

Hosea gave the most details today regarding the specifics of the Specific Plan. It wasn’t long before he had the laser pointer out and gave a quick overview of what would be happening in each area of the development. The new development focuses on three areas: the east end of the current Village, the west end of the valley near Shirley Canyon, and the east parcel near the fire station. Surprisingly, the map at Base Camp had not yet been updated to reflect the most recent plans. Briefly, the east village development will be typical ski village, with retail space on the first floor, and time share hotel and condo units on the upper floors. This will also be the location for the proposed Mountain Adventure Center. The west end development will focus more on single family homes for shared ownership. The east parcel will be a location for remote parking and employee housing. A 5,000 square foot market is also planned for that parcel, which may reduce some traffic into the valley and reduce the need for employees to own autos.

Hosea noted that each of the “hotel” units would be designed as a smaller boutique hotel. Besides offering a “smaller feel”, the smaller building would allow SVSH to not get too far ahead of the real-estate market with unsold units. He also noted that plans for the Adventure Center would remain somewhat of a mystery as they were not ready to announce specifics. In a nutshell, the goal seems two fold with the Center: provide a four season vacation experience, and providing a vacation experience where visitors never need to leave the valley.

Lastly, Hosea noted that the public had repeatedly asked to see 3D modeling of the proposed village. He stated that those models are in development and should be available for viewing in 60 to 75 days. Questions were raised during the Q & A about preservation of visual corridors within the village, and the 3D models are likely the best tool to see how things may look.

Mike Geary, General Manager, Squaw Valley Public Service District

Mike Geary explains the finer details of the Water Supply Assessment.

Mike Geary explains the finer details of the Water Supply Assessment.

Geary was there to provide details on the recently released Water Supply Assessment. SVPSD was obligated to do the assessment due to the scope of the Village project. There’s been a lot of conjecture about why Olympic Valley suddenly seems to be swimming in water. Geary did a fine job of explaining how the study was completed, and how it has been independently reviewed. Geary stated that the completed Village project, and other possible projects within the District, will increase the need for water within the Valley by 28% by the year 2040.

The source for water in Olympic Valley is a relatively small aquifer under the valley and a number of horizontal wells drilled into the surrounding mountains. The aquifer does supply the bulk of the water. The aquifer is refilled primarily by runoff from rain and melting snow. The valley receives an average of 47″ of precipitable water per year, and that is more than enough to refill the aquifer each year, as a very large area drains into a relatively small area. Geary stated that there has not yet been a year when the aquifer did not totally refill. Numerical models run by the consulting firm showed that the aquifer has been able to recover even during extended drought periods. Geary stated that the aquifer should never be drawn down to less that 65% saturation to maintain a healthy system. The numerical models showed the aquifer never dropped below 70% saturation, even during the modeling of extended drought periods.

During the Q & A, several points were clarified by Geary. Previously, people were under the impression that there was only enough water to serve 100 more homes in the Valley. The WSA now states that there is plenty of water for 1250 more units. Yes, we were confused too. Geary explained the situation. The Cushing family was never willing to work with the District to allow wells to be drilled on Squaw Valley property, where most of the water is available. SVSH has been working with the District to put wells where they need to be, regardless of ownership of the property. This means that the District has much more access to the aquifer than ever, and SVSH has a vested interest in making that happen.

There’s also been a lot of questions about the proposed “8 mile pipe” to bring water from the Martis Valley to Olympic Valley. Geary stated unequivocally that the “8 mile pipe” had nothing to do with the Village Specific Plan. The proposal to bring Martis Valley water into the Valley is solely to provide a backup source for water in the event that the aquifer was contaminated. SVPSD has been pursuing options for a backup source of water for more than 20 years, long before the Village redevelopment project was proposed.

Reading Between The Lines

The reality is that no new information was presented today. Although I took a lot of notes today, I spent a lot of time watching people and reading between the lines. Here’s some candid observations:

• There’s a reason that SVSH is so afraid of the incorporation of Olympic Valley. It was very clear today that SVSH enjoys a very cozy relationship with Placer County. There were times today that I would have sworn that Alex Fisch was an employee of Squaw Valley, and not Placer County. The same could be said for Supervisor Montgomery. The point of holding this meeting seemed to be to show how well Placer County and SVSH have worked together to involve the public, and how that has resulted in a plan that everyone supports, at least in the minds of SVSH and Placer County representatives.

• The rest of the Placer County supervisors seemed disinterested at best. The chair of the Board was not even present today, and none of the other Board members asked any questions today.

• Andy Wirth is really worried that Squaw Valley Ski Holdings might be tarnishing the image of KSL Capital. He spent quite a bit of time convincing today’s audience that KSL Capital is not in charge of the project, that Squaw Valley Ski Holdings was responsible. The fact still remains that a large number of investors have put a lot of money into KSL Capital, and that money was used to set up to create Squaw Valley Ski Holdings. Andy must be getting pressure from somewhere to say these things.

• There is no doubt that SVSH has made an effort to seek public input. The first plan was a slap in the face to Squaw Valley locals and lovers alike. Although the plan has been significantly reduced, it’s still far more than what is needed. Nearly all of us agree that some continued development is needed, but the scale of development needed to match KSL investor expectations does not match the scale that is needed for Squaw Valley.

• There’s still a lot of problems. The proposed building heights, up to 108 feet, will dwarf the current village, which tops out at 60 feet, and will surely change the face of Olympic Valley forever. The need for a Mountain Adventure Center is dubious, especially when Lake Tahoe and the surrounding basin offer all of the recreation we need.

• The plan will ensure that Valley residents will endure more than 25 years of continuous major construction projects.

• Although Wirth was able to draw a neat line connecting a drop in airport traffic to a drop in skier visits, we’re sure the industry as a whole is much more complex. The are many factors that affect the arrival of skiers and riders on our mountains. The cost of the sport has risen dramatically, not just in Tahoe, but all over the US. Simply building a larger Village will not correct that problem. The snowsports industry as a whole needs to look at the growing need for a strategy to keep families engaged in the sport. The problem is that KSL is in the real estate business, not the snowsports business.

• The plan will have serious impacts on the ability of smaller local businesses to compete. Although Placer County will be studying economic impacts, Fisch offered no guarantees of what the economic study will actually achieve, other than showing that Squaw Valley and Northstar will be competing for the same customers. Although SVSH has encouraged several businesses within Olympic Valley to support the plan, there’s a lot of concern from businesses outside of the Valley.

In summary, the current plan is certainly better than the first proposal. It’s still far from the right plan. Hopefully, Andy Wirth is serious about continuing to listen. As always, we’re happy for you to share your thoughts too.

Added later in the afternoon: Here’s the press release from Sierra Watch with their statement on yesterday’s presentation. SierraWatchStatement

Jul 18 2014

Andy Wirth Proclaims Squaw & Alpine Will Connect In Near Future

Margaret Moran interviewed Squaw Valley Ski Holdings CEO Andy Wirth in this week's Tahoe Daily Tribune.

Margaret Moran interviewed Squaw Valley Ski Holdings CEO Andy Wirth in this week’s Tahoe Daily Tribune.

Squaw Valley Ski Holdings CEO Andy Wirth gave an interview to the Tahoe Daily Tribune this week. From Wirth’s standpoint, it was an important opportunity to regain some trust from the public. Wirth has taken the community head-on in opposing the incorporation of Olympic Valley, a move which has many locals talking. SVSH has also had trouble gaining widespread support for the Village at Squaw Valley redevelopment plan.  Over the last two days, we’ve heard plenty of of people questioning the veracity of Wirth’s statements to the Tribune regarding Alpine Meadows. Several people wrote and suggested that we publish a link to the article, and give our readers a chance to comment on the article. I noticed this comment on Facebook and it made me laugh, as I know it’s true.

The UnofficialAlpine.com comment sections’ collective heads are currently exploding. – Facebook comment on a link to the TDT article

There’s a couple of comments we would certainly like to hear more about. Wirth was asked about the connection between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. His reply offered no more details than Snowbrain.com’s recent interview with Troy Caldwell.

Now the interesting dialogue turns to when are you going to connect the two. Well, I’m proud to say that’s going to happen sometime in the near future. I can’t divulge how exactly. – Andy Wirth, SVSH CEO

That sure sounds like blowing smoke to me. Wirth may as well have said “We got nothing.”

Wirth also was proud to point out improvements made at both Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. In his mind, things have only gotten better since Squaw Valley took over Alpine Meadows in 2011. Many of our readers will dispute that assertion. It’s important to note that many of our non-readers will also dispute that assertion.

I’m prideful in saying we’ve done something that people have been talking about since the 50s — we acquired Alpine Meadows. It was in a distressed situation. We acquired Alpine Meadows, and we’ve enhanced the service levels there. – Andy Wirth, SVSH CEO

Again, there’s not many people that will agree with that statement. Very few meaningful improvements have been made at Alpine Meadows since SVSH took the reigns. Here’s a short summary:

• Minor upgrades to the Alpine’s snowmaking system were made last year to make the system more reliable. These updates were probably significant last season.

• The Chalet was remodeled into something that some people love and some people hate. I did not spend a nickel there last season, which is quite a change from all previous seasons.

• Improvements were made to the employee and coaches’ locker rooms. These changes don’t necessarily affect the skiing public.

• New snowcats were purchased. These investments are difficult to measure as the quality of grooming likely depends more on staffing levels and experience.

Please correct me if I missed anything significant. I know there’s plenty of people that want to see the Hot Wheels upgrade on that list, but it has been consistently put on the back burner by SVSH, along with the Red Dog and Granite Chief upgrades at Squaw Valley.

While Wirth and SVSH did bring us slightly cheaper pass prices, that has not served us well at Alpine Meadows. Lower pass prices have also brought us ridiculous lift lines, expensive day lift tickets, wild increases in costs for children’s lift tickets, team programs and lessons, increased prices for food and beverages, and increased prices for seasonal lockers.

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Cheap passes and combined passes brought us some of the longest lines we have ever seen at Alpine Meadows. You gotta be happy about that, right?

Well, we hope some of you take some time to share your comments. It’s a busy summer for many of us and readership is down while people think about paddle boards, kayaks and bicycles. Thanks for sharing this with your Alpine Meadows friends.

Jul 18 2014

Public Workshop On The Village At Squaw Valley Project Set For Monday

Have the really listened to what most locals and Squaw Valley residents want? We may find out a few details on Monday...emphasizing the word "may".

Have they really listened to what most locals and Squaw Valley residents want? We may find out a few details on Monday…emphasizing the word “may”.

The Placer County Board of Supervisors will be holding a public workshop regarding the Village at Squaw Valley project on Monday, July 21. The workshop will be held at the Base Camp marketing center, located in the Village, at 3 pm. The Village redevelopment project has been widely criticized since the initial plan was laid out by KSL. Representatives from KSL and Squaw Valley have listened to some of the concerns and offered some concessions in reducing the scope of the plans. Although the “Right Plan” was introduced seven months ago, there were a lot of generalizations and few specific details available at that time.

Presentations will be made by Placer County staff who have been working on the project, as well as presentations by the project applicant, Squaw Valley. There will also be a report made on the findings of the draft Water Supply Assessment made by the Squaw Valley Public Services District.

No action will be taken by the Board on either the Specific Plan or the Water Supply Assessment, as this meeting is informational only. Public commentary may be accepted at the meeting, at the discretion of the Board.

 

Jul 15 2014

Summer Focus On The Truckee Sports Exchange

With my work schedule being so busy during the month of July, I’m not getting in much play time lately, hence fewer skiing and hiking reports. It seemed like maybe it was a good time to give a shout out to our friends at the Truckee Sports Exchange. Owner Rob Cavallo and his team have a lot of great things going on this summer that highlight some of the best in sustainable recreation around Tahoe.

The Hula Bowl Disc Golf Tournament – July 19th

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After a brief hiatus, Truckee’s favorite disc golf tournament has returned. The Hula Bowl will take place at the Truckee Regional Park on Saturday, July 19th. Check in and late registration for the event begins at 7:30 am at the Rodeo Grounds BBQ area, which is near tee box #16. The event is open to pros and amateurs alike. Registration includes a tee shirt and a cool commemorative disc, as well as light refreshments. Even if you play as badly as I do, it’s a great chance to see how the game can be played. More information about the Hula Bowl is available here.

The Boulder Bash – August 9th

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The first annual Boulder Bash will be held on Donner Summit on Saturday, August 9th. The all levels bouldering competition will be followed by an after party at Donner Ski Ranch. The event will include demonstrations, food and drinks and live music. A raffle will also be held, with a portion of the proceeds going  to benefit The Access Fund, which is working to increase public access to climbing sites in the area. More information about the Boulder Bash is available here.

Wednesday Night Bouldering Club

An unofficial Sports Exchange Bouldering Club has formed. Local enthusiasts are meeting up every other Wednesday at 4:00 pm. Although no official instruction or guidance is offered, it’s a chance to find some bouldering partners, share some moves and learn about some new locations. More information is available on the Sports Exchange Facebook page.

Truckee Thursdays

The guys and gals from the Sports Exchange have hanging out at Truckee Thursdays lately. It makes sense, as it’s difficult for customers to get to the store on Thursdays due to the massive parking congestion downtown. You can register to win a Tahoe SUPWoody  at their booth, as well as ask questions about all of these events.

Saturday SUP Demos At West End Beach

The Sports Exchange is offering free demos of its SUP lineup each Saturday evening from 5:30 until 8:00 at West End Beach at Donner Lake. You simply need to just bring your drivers’ license or credit card and sign the liability waiver to participate. There’s absolutely a significant difference between the many SUPs that have arrived on the market this year. It’s tough to beat the chance to try out a few different boards at no charge. As soon as my work schedule slows down, I am hoping to try out something suitable for us large guys!

We’re really proud to be supporting the Truckee Sports Exchange, recently voted as the #1 sporting goods store in the Best Of Tahoe poll. 

(This post was scheduled to post automatically this week. If you wanted to make a comment about the Sports Exchange, nobody will be around to moderate your comment until next weekend. :))

 

Jul 12 2014

Month 46: The Patches At Forestdale Divide

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It’s getting to be a tough season for us year round skiers and riders, at least those of us without a budget for a trip to Australia, where it’s been dumping. Patches that normally stick around into late summer are disappearing quickly. But some of us have a streak to keep alive. So I managed to wedge a day of hiking and skiing into the middle of a very busy summer work schedule.

The requirements for today’s trip were a short drive, a short approach hike, and a shortage of sun cups. Having seen some pictures from earlier in the week, Vets and I headed up from Red Lake to Forestdale Divide, to an area commonly referred to as “The Patches.” Because these patches are relatively easy to reach by car, they are often the site for impromptu summer terrain park camps. The “Park Patch” or “Right Patch” was just about fully burnt out. You would only know a patch existed due to the scattered lumber and PVC pipe in the area.

We continued up to the Divide and located the Looney (or is it Luniz?) Patch. While the patch was small, the approach hike was shorter than a walk to the mailbox. The snow conditions were creamy and relatively smooth for mid-July. Vets and I put in five laps each on the first patch, with each lap yielding a natural 5 turns.  We turned our attention to the second smaller patch and milked 3 turns in perfect smooth corn. There’s something fun about the challenge of making three perfect turns on such a short run. It took several laps to get it right.

For the final patch, we returned downhill to the Middle Patch. Although the approach hike was slightly longer, at about 150 yards, the patch yielded a full 8 turns. Vets reported that this patch had shrunk by about 50% in the last 5 days. It won’t be there much longer, as the snow surface was generally less than 8 inches deep. I slipped one time putting skis on and easily punched through. That meant that one lap was plenty for me as I have another busy work week ahead. I don’t need the challenge of stitches or a broken bone this month.

Month 47 will likely involve a trip to the north, as I am truly craving some lift served turns….

Jul 08 2014

Sharing Some Summer Stoke: Cody LaPlante’s Season Edit

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A quick Google search will reveal that twelve year old Cody LaPlante has been labelled the “future of skiing” and “a fearless ripper”. We last reported on LaPlante in April after he became the overall champion at the USASA Nationals at Copper Mountain.  Although some may try to write him off as just another park skier that can’t really ski, Cody also was competitive in skier-cross this season, where he is just as fearless and has podium potential. The odds are certain that he can ski better than most of us.

His latest season edit was edited by Cody’s brother. 14 year old Logan LaPlante. The video has quickly been making the rounds on the internet, including being featured by Freeskier. If you have ever taken the time to get to know Cody, you know how accurately the edit portrays his entire persona.

Cody LaPlante has his roots deeply planted at Alpine Meadows, having spent most of his growing years riding with the Alpine Freestyle team. Hopefully the snow gods will deliver at least a normal snow year, allowing Alpine Meadows to continue to produce some of the nations finest freestyle skiers. Great job Cody, for making the best of a less than spectacular season!

Jul 05 2014

Andy Wertheim: Excellent 4th

Photo captured from a video by Keith Thomas

Photo captured from a video by Keith Thomas

Hello Friends,

There are sure a lot of people in Tahoe and Truckee this weekend.  Cars were stacked up all over the place for those hitting the Truckee River between Tahoe City and Alpine Meadows or hiking to Five Lakes or hanging at the beaches on the Westshore.  If you were water skiing, paddle boarding or kayaking on the lake early morning on the 4th of July, then you were treated to some beautiful flat water that was perfect for most water sports.  In the late morning the winds picked up and soon were blowing strongly.  Perhaps a good time to have been sailing, but not so good for beach sitting, although there were still lots of us hanging out waiting for the choppy water to smooth out.

In an attempt to avoid the crowds, I took off early and went for a morning hike.  It was the perfect choice for me.  I drove to the PCT which crosses the Barker Pass (Blackwood Canyon) Road just west of Barker Pass and the end of the paved road.  My goal was an out and back to the base of Twin Peaks where the PCT and the Tahoe Rim Trail part ways.  This is about a 10.2 mile round trip with approximately 1560 feet of elevation gain for the round trip. The trail offers expansive views in every direction.  Yesterday morning the sky was especially clear and the views of Tahoe, Desolation Wilderness, and the many surrounding peaks such as Twin Peaks, Tinkers Knob, Anderson, Freel, and many others were easily visible and clear as a bell.  Although the total elevation each way is not really much, the 5.1 mile trail does drop into a couple of valleys that flow toward Blackwood Creek and Lake Tahoe.  At each of these drainages, water was flowing and plant life was thriving.  Every color wildflower seemed to be showing off.  One of the most beautiful and surprising displays was that of the bright pink and yellow, Sierra Primrose.  This is supposed to be a late summer bloomer, but I found an entire hillside of covered with them.  Large yellow Monkey flowers, and Cinquefoil, pink Heather, pink Spirea, deep blue Lupin and Penstemon, orange Paintbrush and Scarlet Gilia covered the hillsides in the moist drainages.  I began my hike at about 8:15 in the morning and returned at 12:30.  I stopped at the intersection of the PCT (heading north to Highway 80 ) and the TRT (heading east to Tahoe City) for a bite to eat.  One fun thing about hiking along the PCT this time of year is that you tend to meet thru hikers that are in the middle of their Mexico to Canada trek.  I must have met 8 or 10 on my return trip to Barker Pass.

Last night we dropped our kayaks into Donner Lake and paddled about half along the lake from east to west to watch the fireworks from display at the west end of the lake.

The shore was packed with people celebrating and waiting for the fireworks.  We listen to a band playing at the west end beach until darkness took over and the bombs began to blast.  It was quite a display with each boom rebounding off the surrounding granite walls that rise up around the lake basin.  The finale was excellent with every kind of design shooting out over us in rapid succession.

Enjoy your day,

Andy Wertheim

Jul 03 2014

Andy Wertheim: 4th Of July

WhiskeyCreek

Hello Friends,

Chris Cain was rocking the Village at Squaw last night.  A good crowd was on hand to listen to him belt out the blues.  I cannot believe a year has passed, but the summer ski sales are beginning this weekend.  Of course, Tom Lane is offering a preview sale of his numerous lines of outdoor wear and equipment.  He will have a one day sale on Thursday from 9 to 3:30 at his home on Juniper Mt. (follow the signs to his house).  The 16th annual outdoor rep sale will be held in Tahoe City on Friday and Saturday.  There will be plenty of good deals.

It has been hot in Tahoe.  At this point in time, I would head for water.  We hiked to Whiskey Creek Sunday and enjoyed the many blooming wildflowers along the way.  This is a hike many of you have done before.  It begins at the Five Lakes Trail in Alpine and continues about 1.5 miles beyond the turn off to the larger lakes.  Whiskey Creek is not running very strongly, but it was cool in the shade and fun to see the old cabins where sheepherder’s spent many a summer.

Mountain biking might be best early in the morning or later in the afternoon.  Have a get weekend.   There will be fireworks all over.  Donner Lake and Tahoe City are always fun to watch.

Enjoy your day,

Andy Wertheim

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