Paddling Tahoe: The 2017 Version

By Tim Hauserman

Lake Tahoe has risen over six feet since last summer, just about reaching the lake’s legal limit. Tahoe’s beaches are just little things compared to the massive expanses of last year, and the lake is nearly kissing the planks of docks which not long ago were barely getting their feet wet. All that water also means that paddleboarding and kayaking are a completely different experience this summer.

Last summer, a paddle out of The Commons Beach in Tahoe City was not on my list of things to do. From the parking lot it would have been a long struggle to carry a watercraft several hundred yards across the rocky shore to the edge of the lake. This past week I took my kayak off the roof of my car. Walked across 15 feet of sandy beach to the shoreline. Was in the boat and off and running in about 2 minutes. Nice!

I paddled over to where the Truckee River meets the Lake Tahoe Dam. Last fall I could skip across a nearly non existent river trickling towards the dam, now the water was deep and the perspective of the dam from just upstream was awesome. I hung out next to the rubber floats which keeps boats from hitting the dam while enjoying the geese struggling to keep on the barrier with their slippery feet.

After the dam, I paddled along the West Shore, the whole time realizing that where I floated not too long ago was out of the water. I wonder whether that picnic table that sat well off shore from the Gatekeepers Cabin was now it’s very own Atlantis? The water slapped gently against the rock barriers along the shore and the piers looked like what they should be: A place a kid could run and jump off without fear of the water being too shallow.

There was only one problem with the high water: Last year the three to four foot gap underneath the docks made it easy to paddle right underneath them, now, with only a few inches between lake and dock plank, you have to paddle all the way around the piers.

I made my way to Sunnyside then turned around and headed to the public beach between Tahoe Tavern and Tavern Shores, which once again has become an excellent and not busy place for an after paddle swim. Welcome to Lake Tahoe 2017!