The Unbearable Lightness of Being At Lake Tahoe

The name “Tahoe” supposedly comes from a Washoe native word that referred to their campsite as “Da ow a ga,” meaning “edge of the lake.” Settlers mispronounced “Da ow” and thus Tahoe received its modern name.

Lake Tahoe is honking huge. Its waters bisect California and Nevada. Twelve miles wide by twenty-two miles long, it has 72 miles of shoreline, and at an elevation of 6,228 feet, Lake Tahoe is the world’s second largest body of water at that or any greater elevation. There are all sorts of groovy comparisons about the lake that some mislead plastic pen holder statistician put together: like if Tahoe were drained onto Texas, it would cover the entire state to a depth of 8.5 inches, or that there’s enough water in Lake Tahoe to supply every person in the United States with 120 gallons per water per day for almost 5 years. Although the Tahoe Basin has its share of below-freezing days and nights in winter, the lake has never frozen over. Sixty-three streams flow into the lake, but only one, the Truckee River, flows out.

Enough of the regular Joe-mailman flapping of the lips. In reality, and not to improvise something George Orwell would say after a speed and sterno binge, hanging at Tahoe launders the psyche and skinpops the spirit. It’s more fun than when the Wolverines kick Ohio State’s booty. It’s better than s…whoa, hold that thought.

Tahoe’s scappelled mountain architecture reveals such startling suddenness as to make the unsuspecting feel the fascination, the quiet when bending over to touch a completely still animal that may or may not be alive. Even after decades of hanging on the North Shore, the Lake never looks the same twice. Its landscape is a pneumatic as a Playboy centerfold BASE jumping into your bed. Being at lake level gets rid of the cobwebs and replaces them with something fresh, fun and exciting. Under a sky as wide as the face of time, this home stomp has the power to close around you and hotly whisper how wonderful life it, even if it’s a failure’s life.

But aside from cosmic juju, more importantly Tahoe is the last un-forked pea on the plate of Western skiing and riding. There’s twenty-five downhill and cross-country ski resorts located around the lake. Moreover, there are more chair lifts to ride in the Tahoe Basin than, gag me, in the entire state of Colorado. The climate can be hard and unpredictable, but four out of five days are sunny. Winter temperatures average around 29 degrees. When it snows, which is often, the flakes fall thick and fast, piling into soft mounds on the upper portion of discolored mountain peaks that erupt from lake level to constitute the massive walls of a fort. At times the snow is bottomless, filling in the steeps, covering the landscape, making life good and providing us with a decent living.