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Wed, Oct. 16

Lake Tahoe, The Ice-Age Lake

Wondrous lumber standing before the two million year lake, reflections of white snow-capped peaks contrasting with the deep blue waters.

The old Washoe Indians told stories of prehistoric monsters that surfaced up to terrorize little children, they saw shimmering dancing mirages on the warmer water body that would lure fishing boats after mid afternoon.

Climbing the rough mountain thru Echo Summit, my '65 Oldsmobile was plowing along with its V8 engine's thrust plat-plat-plat sound, slowly but faithfully reaching the stars.

When I made the closed curves on Highway 50, I could hear the echo from the robust engine getting back from the sleepy forest. The good tires grabbed onto the concrete highway with a hissing frying like sound, still complaining for the steep grade that came time after time, and I would watch with my neck out the window to catch a glimpse of the fast-moving scene, wow this is fun, vacation prize after so many months of working for my boss.

The warm wind was touching my face, but I was in a hurry, because I knew that the mountain quickly changed and in a moment's notice it could start to rain, and that rain would become silent snow, the white powder that slid cars downhill without any control at low speeds.

Images of long gone fortune seeking wagons came rushing in, they were trying to get across tricky Donner pass, after encountering flash snow storms and hidden icy traps all over their descending saga.

It was the crude and rude winter before the sunny summer down below, welcoming valleys of fertile California.

Looking down Emerald bay, I saw the majestic hand elongating a straight green mirrored fjord and right in its center, like a precious stone on a ring, the only Tahoe Island where Vikingsholm was built and the "Eagle falls" make their last journey into the lake - blue jays were coming to visit and playful squirrels and chip monks would crack the floor nuts, while magnificent cedars and pines were watching the natural surroundings, with towering sheer granite cliffs above protecting the natural habitat, like sentinels that have withstood the ice age.

Behind Emerald Bay there are 100 other glacial lakes with names like Fallen Leaf Lake, Upper Velma Lake, Cascade and Aloha Lakes, which are just a few.

I've got out my old reliable Coleman stove and prepared myself some bacon and eggs and black steaming coffee, when the first golden rays of the early morning sun were softly kissing the shoreline.

Bright summer day peeking sunrays thru the pine trees, could see the blue sky above and felt the fragrance of pristine woods all around me.

What a wonderful place to be in tune with God's creation, paradise on high country, full of colors, flowers and life sharing the planet with us, and at that moment of glory, I made a promise to myself, to always return to Bonanza Ranch land, the blessed corner of the American west.

Written by Jack Martinez Copyright 2010

Comments from the author

Lake Tahoe was formed during the ice age together with 100 other lakes found in the area between California and Nevada.

The Washoe Indian tribe lived around the Tahoe Basin and became in contact with the first pioneers. The Native Americans told stories of winged monsters nesting the center of the lake and prehistoric creatures that would come up to shore. Nothing was ever confirmed and recorded.

The first time when I visited this beautiful lake, I drove my faithful '65 Olds from California, later on, I visited the place many times in the subsequent years after 1974.

I was caught once in a snow storm near Echo Summit, when I left the lower valley I had sunshine on my shoulders, but after climbing to the higher levels, the mild rain turned into a heavy snow fall changing the scenery altogether.

I mention the Donner Party, a wagon train of explorers and pioneers that came to California from the east, but got trapped in the crudest winter of the sierra Nevada, and some of the survivors were forced to cannibalism, in order to get food for their bodies. The repercussions of this act would linger in their lives, as a rejection of society for decades after their rescue and descent.

Emerald Bay is in my opinion, the most Goya's spot around the lake, it is like a finger or fjord entering a bay and right in the middle, an island stands up like the wedding ring of a pretty bride. The "Eagle Falls" are water cascades in that island, where red salmon still abounds. Finally, a description of fauna and flora typical of the lake is made, which are being protected by the zillion age-old granite towers nearby. Just before ending up my story, I had to prepare some warm food and hot coffee to unwind, and make the reading a real trip into the woods.

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