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Fall Colors and Tahoe Time

Fall, the fallow time, the space between Summer and Winter, the shoulder season...  How do you think of it?  Do you embrace this cooling transition by anxiously pulling your warm clothes from storage?  Are you drifting off in daydreams of forested paths, along clear creeks, surrounded by brilliant swatches of amber and crimson leaves?  Is there a pleasant sense of anticipation accompanying these thoughts, an inspirational spark that wakes something inside you?  As the seasonal plants shed their last bursts of energy, you can almost feel it flowing into you.  There are a lot of things to do yet, aren’t there?  Yes, indeed there are…

Just as the trees in the Tahoe Basin are changing color, so are a particular strain of landlocked Sockeye salmon - making their return to Taylor Creek to resume the cycle of Life.  If you’ve never seen Kokanee Salmon in their fall spawning colors, make a point of doing it at least once in your Life.  It is a spectacular vision of Nature’s resolve.  With a vibrant backdrop of golden Aspens lining Taylor Creek, the contrasting red and green salmon seem almost otherworldly in the emerald-tinged water.  You can enjoy the salmon and the Fall colors, right on through October.  It is an image that will stay with you, and you’ll want to see it again, maybe every year... 

This whole glorious display of Alpine salmon is actually a fluke.  As the story goes: to replace the original population of (extinct Alpine species of) Cutthroat trout, Mackinaw (Lake), Browns & Rainbow trout were planted with great success!  These fish adapted perfectly to the Alpine water conditions in Lake Tahoe.  Then, in 1944, Biologists working in Lake Tahoe accidentally added Kokanee (mistaken for trout fingerlings) to the thriving mix – a happy accident for fishermen and nature-lovers alike!  Like the other non-native trout in the Lake, Kokanee have since become a welcome resident with a self-sustaining run of wild fish.  Please continue!   

An additional Wildlife feature of the Kokanee run is the likelihood of seeing a few local bears getting in on the action.  Just keep your distance and use the tele-photo option for pictures…  Remember, these are not teddy bears or anything like you’ll see in a Disney movie with a boy on its shoulder teaching him about the bear necessities!  Safety first!

If more Fall colors and expansive vistas are on your mind, Hope Valley is an easy winner, and well worth the short drive.  When you crest Luther Summit and see the valley that awaits, you’ll feel the sudden urge to stop in the nearest pullout (and there are a lot of them) to capture some golden moments.  Just do it!  Take your time, enjoy the open views, and your close ones.  This is the important stuff, the memories, the time spent away from the whirl of society.  If you’ve been to Hope Valley in the Summer and loved it, you might just love it even more in the Fall with golden Aspen groves bursting from evergreen pines lining the mountains.  Remember, there are also trails galore to satisfy that wandering soul - who came here for some peace of mind.  It’s only a (very scenic) 20 minute drive from the Tahoe Basin.  Go there… And breathe deeply…

In the mood to change your identity, even for only one night?  Tahoe hosts a multitude of crazy costumed events where you can lose yourself (literally) in a crowd of like-minded party patrons.  There is an element of exhilaration and liberation in doing this, becoming someone else.  You’re really getting in touch with your inner child here, right?  You’re walking in someone else’s shoes, gaining new perspectives, new philosophies, maybe a new dialect even.  It’s fun to dress up and mingle, interact with obviously contrasting cultures where those differences are simply more food for thought, more opportunity to exercise your wit.  These are great brain games you won’t get playing Monopoly.  The combinations are endless, and this is where it gets interesting alright.  How would a 20’s Flapper address someone who looks like Frankenstein’s monster?  You look like a dew-dropper in those clothes, and you really need to see my stylist about that mop… but you are rather…(flashing falsies) darb…  Care for some giggle water?  Now you’re on the Trolley…

So much to see, so much to learn, so much to do.  It’s more than a lifetime will allow.  There’s never enough time to do everything.  But… you can (and should) take full advantage of this Fall season, this calm before the storm.  A quiet atmosphere surrounds it, filling it completely with an emptiness you know holds the promise of Truth.  It is an understood rotation in Nature, and it resides deep inside you as well.  Like the salmon returning to their origins, we sense our own part in this drama of Life.  Get out now and walk in the softly falling leaves, listen to their whispers and the hollow echoes of a season past.  Reflect on the good things you enjoyed most.  Then enjoy the comfort found indoors and warm up next to the fireplace with a hot drink.  Pretty good to have a place to warm up isn’t it?  Relax and think about the things you want to do, and how you can fit them in between the things you have to do.  Then toss the things that serve neither and look at what’s left.  These are the things that deserve your Time most!

Fall in Tahoe:  Traffic is light, trailheads have plenty of parking, air is crisp and full of sweet scent, the landscape is filled with golden colors. This is the perfect time to clear you mind, escape the commotion, and prepare for the next wave of Holidays.  Oh yes, they’re coming -faster than you think!  Take a deep breath and find your center.  Remember that place, and go there often.

 

Edward Wade

 

P.S. If you live in Tahoe, you know there’s plenty of work to do yet, to prepare yourself for what we now hope is a ve-ry harsh winter!