CHAPTER XXXVII. LAKE TAHOE IN WINTER
BY DR. J.E. CHURCH, JR., OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA
[Footnote 1: By courtesy of Sunset magazine.]
Lake Tahoe is an ideal winter resort for the red-blooded. For the Viking and the near Viking; for the man and the woman who, for the very exhilaration of it, seek the bracing air and the snow-clad forests, Lake Tahoe is as charming in winter as in summer, and far grander. There is the same water - in morning placid, in afternoon foam-flecked, on days of storm tempestuous. The Lake never freezes; not even a film of ice fringes its edge. Sunny skies and warm noons and the Lake's own restlessness prevent. Emerald Bay alone is sometimes closed with ice, but more often it is as open as the outer Lake. Even the pebbles glisten on the beach as far back as the wash of the waves extends.
But beyond the reach of the waves a deep mantle of white clads the forests and caps the distant peaks. The refuse of the forests, the dusty roads, and the inequalities of the ground are all buried deep. A smooth, gently undulating surface of dazzling white has taken their place.
The forest trees are laden with snow - each frond bears its pyramid and each needle its plume of white. The fresh green of the foliage and the ruddy brown of the bark are accentuated rather than subdued by their white setting. But as the eye travels the long vista of ascending and retreating forest, the green and the brown of the near-by trees fade gradually away until the forest becomes a fluffy mantle of white upon the distant mountain side. Above and beyond the forest's utmost reaches rise the mountain crags and peaks, every angle rounded into gentle contours beneath its burden of snow.
Along the margin of the Lake appear the habitations and works of men deeply buried and snow-hooded until they recall the scenes in Whittier's Snow Bound.
The lover of the Lake and its bird life will miss the gulls but will find compensation in the presence of the wild fowl - the ducks and the geese - that have returned to their winter haunts.
Lake Tahoe is remarkably adapted as a winter resort for three prime reasons: first, it is easily accessible; second, no place in the Sierra Nevada, excepting not even Yosemite, offers so many attractions; third, it is the natural and easy gateway in winter to the remote fastnesses of the northern Sierra.
Among the attractions preeminently associated with Lake Tahoe in winter are boating and cruising, snow-shoeing and exploring, camping for those whose souls are of sterner stuff, hunting, mountain climbing, photography, and the enjoyment of winter landscape. Fishing during the winter months is prohibited by law.
If one asks where to go, a bewildering group of trips and pleasures appears. But there come forth speedily from out the number a few of unsurpassed allurement. These are a ski trip from Tallac to Fallen Leaf Lake to see the breakers and the spray driven by a rising gale against the rock-bound shore, and, when the lake has grown quieter, a boat ride to Fallen Leaf Lodge beneath the frowning parapets of Mount Tallac. Next a ski trip up the Glen to the buried hostelry at Glen Alpine, where one enters by way of a dormer window but is received to a cheerful fire and with royal hospitality.
Then under the skillful guidance of the keeper, a day's climb up the southern face of Mount Tallac for an unrivalled panoramic view from its summit and a speedy but safe glissade back to the hostelry far, far below.
And if the legs be not too stiff from the glissade, a climb over the southern wall of the Glen to Desolation Valley and Pyramid Peak, whence can be seen the long gorge of the Rubicon. The thousand lakes that dot this region present no barrier to one's progress, for they are frozen over and lie buried deep beneath the snow that falls here in an abundance hardly exceeded elsewhere in the Tahoe region.
A close rival of these is the climb from Rubicon Park up the stately range in its rear to visit the mountain hemlock, the graceful queen of the high mountain, and to gaze across the chasm at the twin crags beyond.
And peer of them all, though requiring but little exertion, is a trip to Brockway to enjoy the unrivalled view of the "Land's End" of the Lake and catch the colors of the pansies that are still in bloom in a niche of the old sea wall. If one possess the artist's mood, he will add thereto a boat ride round State Line Point in the lazy swell of the evening sea beneath the silent pine-clad cliffs, while the moon, as beautiful as any summer moon, rides overhead. Only the carpet of snow and the film of ice that gathers from the spray upon the boat keeps one alive to the reality that the season is winter.