Friday, August 22, 2014

Five Lakes basin: more than just lakes

American black bears in the Five Lakes basin

Upper lake of the Five Lakes
The Five Lakes basin is located between the Truckee River Canyon and the Pacific Crest—northwest of Tahoe City in the Sierra Nevada, California. A popular hiking trail, starting at the Alpine Meadows Road/Deer Park Drive junction, leads up to the small lakes from the Bear Creek valley. Bears, indeed, roam this area despite the growing number of humans seeking recreation here.

On one of my Five Lakes visits, I almost ran into a bear mother with her cubs. One cub got curious. But the mother made it clear not to approach any further. Interestingly, they hang out behind some fallen trees just a few steps off the Five Lakes Trail. I am still wondering how many hikers passed by without even noticing the bears—or without being noticed by them. Although brown-colored, Sierran bears are black bears (Ursus Americanus), which are said to be less aggressive than brown bears (grizzlies). Around Lake Tahoe, black bears often get habituated, mostly ignoring summer residents, visitors, hikers and the winter ski circus. 

Yellow-brown mushroom shelf
Locals and visitors love to climb up to the basin for the forest-surrounded lakes: a great place for relaxation, picnicking and swimming. In response to overuse, signs have been posted saying “no camping or stocks within 600 feet of Five Lakes.” Backpackers will find campsites further west, along the Pacific Crest Trail and at Whiskey Creek Camp. The Five Lakes are an excellent gateway for “more advanced” hikes or horse rides into the Granite Chief Wilderness, including Five Lakes Creek, Whiskey Creek, and the upper American River.

Spiny Sierra gooseberry fruit
If you decide to stay in the lakes basin,  there is much to explore between the lakes, boulders and conifers. On the bark of a dead tree trunk, I found “climbing mushrooms” trying to conquer what was left of a once tall tree. The cap density decreases while looking higher up the trunk. The lower, dis-aligned shelves show wrinkled shapes with sulfur-colored edges. I think they are shelf mushrooms, also referred to as bracket fungi.  Any hints or more details on their classification, identification and natural history are welcome! Do bears eat them?

In late summer and fall you may spot some purple-red and spiny gooseberries hanging from branches of low-growing bushes in forest openings. Spiny Sierra gooseberry shrubs grow on sunny, south-facing slopes of the Bear Creek valley; as they do elsewhere such as the gooseberry slope above Donner Lake.
Keywords: Placer County, Granite Chief Wilderness, outdoors, hiking, bear habitat, American black bear, polypore mushrooms, Ribes Roezlii.

This post has been brought to you by the developers of Explore Reno-Tahoe and beyond, a search portal targeting places, events and information of local interest.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Squaw Valley memorial skiing sculpture carved out of wood

Winter sport activities in Squaw Valley, California, are celebrated and memorized in various ways. According to a Squaw Valley Olympic Winter Games brochure, “The Ⅷ Olympic Winter Games propelled Squaw Valley USA into the world spot light and spurred a tremendous growth on winter sports—especially in alpine skiing.” To coach young skiers between the ages of 5 and 10 in developing strong fundamental skiing skills, the Squaw Valley Ski Team offers its Mighty Mites program, giving kids their first slides, turns and jumps of world-cup experience. The Mighty Mites not just ski the mountain slopes, they also race and phrase their ambitions via twitter.

The junior skiers are memorized by a 1995 wooden sculpture in front of the Event Service building east of the Base Camp's exhibition/searchlight chair lift: little skiers enjoy their sport on four levels around a towering wood-carved column. Interestingly, the little girls and boys—looking somewhat like children adapted from a fairy tale—do not focus much onto a ski trail, but are gazing at Squaw Valley's surroundings; maybe in admiration of this wonderful, magic winter sport paradise or in hope of a future gold medal.

Many of  the “snow mites” made it to the national ski team. The inscription at the base of the 1995 sculpture for the young winter athletes says:

To remember all of our Squaw Valley Athletes, who advanced from our Might Mites Program through the Squaw Valley Junior Ski Program, to make it to the U.S. Ski Team.

The successful Mighty Mites are: Greg Brockway, Paul Buschmann, Eric Conner, Wendy Fisher, Ron Fuller, Crystal Hager, Bradley Holmes, Jim Hudson, William Hudson, Jimmy Huega, Greg Jones, Todd Kelly, Kristin Krone, Erik Lapin, Todd Loveless, Mike McDougal, Sheila McKinney, Steve McKinney, Tamara McKinney, John Moseley, Rick Moseley, Cory Murdock, Dick Neilsen, Robert Ormsby, Eric Poulsen, Lance Poulsen, Sandra Poulsen, Daron Rahlves, Andreas Rickenbach, Rachel Savitt, Jarrod Semmens, Lee Sevison, Becky Simming, Lane Spina, Barabara Standteiner, Hans Peter Standteiner, Heidi Standteiner, Toni Standteiner, Barry Thys, Edith Thys, Curtis Tischler, Eva Twardokens, Kevin Wolf, Scott Young.

Do you recognize some familiar athlete names?

This post has been brought to you by the developers of Explore Reno-Tahoe and beyond, a search portal targeting places, events and information of local interest.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Carve Tahoe, an international snow sculpture event at the Northstar Tahoe Resort

Head in "The First Killer Whale" snow sculpture

Carve Tahoe returned to Northstar California this year (January 31st through February 2). February 1 was an excellent day to see all eight snow sculptures, just finished and slowly starting to melt under the blue sunny sky at this Sierra Nevada skiing resort between Truckee and Lake Tahoe. 

Fish at bottom of  "The Fish Eaters" snow sculpture
Eight teams from around the world came to take part in this international snow sculpture event, at which they created—by use of hand tools—inspiring sculptures out of 20-ton blocks of snow. Here are the diverse creations of the teams:

"Battle" snow sculpture
The snow artists put tales, ideas, abstractions and thoughts into amazing structures of the white stuff. Reflecting in the sunshine, the sculptures were circled and pictured by visitors, knowing that the snowy masterpieces will not last for very long.
The official website of the Carve Tahoe event: Keep exploring Reno-Tahoe!

"Reflection" snow sculpture

"Dream Telescope" snow sculpture

"Beer & Wine" snow sculpture

"The Fish Eaters" snow sculpture

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Reno-Tahoe Portal: Explore Reno-Tahoe and beyond

Mount Tallac between Lake Tahoe and Desolation Valley
Explore Reno-Tahoe, or ExploRT for short, is a portal that keeps you focused on the vibrant Reno-Tahoe landscape. ExploRT is a customized search interface that provides free and targeted access to everything interesting in and about the Reno-Tahoe area, including posts at Trailing Ahead and other exciting travel & nature blogs.

Lake-Tahoe's Rubicon Trail
ExploRT invites you to find recreational hot spots, serene places, memorable landmarks and creative new-starts in distinct neighborhoods, parks, preserves and wilderness areas. Whether you are a visitor or long-time resident, learn and explore something inspiring from the history of this exciting place—where people from Nevada, California and all around the world come to play and stay. Come on in, and see what we map and pin!

Downtown Reno climbing wall
Donner Party Memorial next to Donner Pass Road, Truckee, California
Donner Party Memorial, Truckee
Davis Creek Regional Park
Vikingsholm Castle, Emerald Bay