South Lake Tahoe Correspondence – May 2017

                                                       Tahoe piers and boathouses this Spring, with the Lake filled to capacity

Amazing what a difference a year makes!   Last year at this time the West was gripped by a severe drought. It seemed as though climate change had shifted the weather pattern so badly that we wouldn’t receive any more snow in the Sierra Nevada ever again.  Water levels dropped  at South Lake Tahoe to the point that docks and boat buoys sat on dry land.  People were seriously concerned that a dry winter would become the norm.  Then it started to snow in January.  Finally, storms came that old time locals could compare to the winters of yesteryear. Ski resorts rejoiced, and snowpack scientists were relieved.  It was good all the way around, and now as Spring hits Lake Tahoe, the Lake and its visitors will reap the reward of having a record breaking winter snowfall.

                                                                    Piers and boat houses high and dry last year at Tahoe

There has been unpredictable weather here at the Lake during these spring months of April and May.  One day it’s shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops,  then “wham,”  it’s back to parka’s and moon boots.  The daffodils and tulips can’t bloom with all this indecision by Mother Nature.  The black bears waking up from their hibernation are greeted with snow and must resort to raiding garbage cans to fill their empty bellies. But one thing is for sure, with Tahoe already reaching its natural rim of 6,229 feet: when the warm weather sets in, the area will be ripe for boating, fishing, camping, and all other kinds of outdoor recreation.

May is the month the summer season starts to come into view.  Marinas, beach resorts and boat ramps open their gates to people ready to have fun on or near the Lake.  One marina in particular that must be super stoked the Lake has filled up is Ski Run Marina over on the California side in the middle of South Lake Tahoe.  Their fleet of rental boats and jet skis almost didn’t make it through last summer because water levels at boat slips topped out at maybe two feet.  This year, all the vessels will be sitting pretty in nice deep water and ready for an opening date in early May.  Round Hill Pines, located in Nevada in between Zephyr Cove and Stateline, will also be making an early May opening day.  The Pines is a nice quiet beach nestled in Marla Bay, a great place to spend the day.  May could be a tad early to really start doing anything actually in the Lake, like swimming, unless you enjoy being immersed in ice cold water and turning blue.  But on the inevitable warm day in May, find your friend who has a boat or rent one and go for spin on the Lake,  and it won’t be as busy as during the oncoming onslaught of people in the busy summer months.

With all the snow sitting up on top of the mountains — in some places as much as 20 to 30 feet — ski resorts like Mount Rose can remain open throughout the month.  Interest in skiing wanes as Spring goes along, and people are done hitting the slopes till next winter.  But how many places in the world can you go skiing in the morning and then go hit the beach in the afternoon?  That’s what makes having a huge winter at Tahoe so special: it gives people a very unique vacation experience.

— Brendan Packer