Lake Tahoe is only one of the amazing sights you’ll see when exploring the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. These spectacular mountains not only cradle Tahoe which is the second deepest lake in the U.S., they are also home to Yosemite Falls, the highest waterfall in the contiguous states, as well as home to Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the lower 48.
The impressive 400 mile north-south running mountain range shelters three National Parks – Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia, and two National Monuments – Devils Postpile and Sequoia. It is home to the largest known living single-stem tree on Earth – The General Sherman. Our mountain range houses its own species of bighorn sheep, the endemic Sierra Nevada bighorn with their wonderfully adaptive adhesive hooves. With the addition of twenty protected wilderness areas, recreation and sight-seeing opportunities abound for everyone.
This mountain range is so impactive that California depends on the Sierra Nevada’s snowpack for water, and much of the State’s electric power. On the other hand, the fact that Nevada is the driest state in the Union is a direct result of the rain shadow cast by the Sierra Nevada range.
The Eastern Escarpment of the Sierra is one of the most dramatic sights in the range. Even though highway 395 runs through the flat Owens Valley at 4,000 feet above sea level, the flanking mountains rise abruptly out of the earth towering to 14,000 feet. The view is stunningly unforgettable, and photo-worthy.
The Sierra Nevada has never been known as benign. Even though winter temperatures are relatively warm, its sometimes enormous snowpack has always caused hardships. Think of the Donner party. The precipitation, however, can and does vary widely from year to year.
At the southern end of the Sierra Escarpment, a particular wind, known as the “Sierra Rotor” occurs. It’s caused by the height and steepness of the escarpment and strong westerly winds. The rotors are unfriendly sideways mini-twisters occurring mostly in the spring and fall.
The mountains’ complex atmospheric conditions have contributed to a large number of plane crashes. A triangle bounded by Reno, Fresno and Las Vegas has been named by a few people with overactive imaginations as the “Nevada Triangle” in a direct reference to the Bermuda Triangle.
No matter how we view these mountains, we think of the Sierra Nevada as a single mountain range, mostly in California, with the small Carson spur running into Nevada.
But these mountains are really part of the American Cordillera, a chain of ranges that are the backbone of North America. The American Cordillera is part of the North American Cordillera, which is part of the Central American and South American Cordillera. All together, these form the volcanic area which is the eastern half of the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Let’s not underestimate our Sierra Nevada Mountains.
The current seller’s market isn’t the first one Incline Village has known, and it won’t be the last.
Because home buyers and sellers generally have little interest in the real estate market when they are not actively buying or selling, they don’t always realize, or care, how the market moves. But move it does — always.
There is no doubt that 2020 has provided us with a seller’s market. Anyone owning a piece of property in Incline Village is likely sitting on a hot property. That kind of statement tends to discourage some buyers
However, there are strategies buyers can and should use to create an advantage when trying to successfully negotiate their way through this market.
- Remember time is of the essence in a seller’s market. In other words, don’t wait to make an offer on a house you like. It will be gone.
- Don’t lowball. You’re probably not the only buyer who wants that property.
- Increase your downpayment. The more money you put down, the less you need to finance. So you have less trouble qualifying for a loan. Most sellers realize that.
- Many home buyers obtain a lender’s pre-qualification letter determining how much of a loan a lender is willing to give them. However, a pre-approval letter makes a stronger impression on sellers.
- Get pre-approved for a loan. A pre-approval letter from a lender, along with a clean contract with few or no contingencies have won bidding wars — even against cash offers
- Remember, while pre-qualification can be helpful in determining how much a lender is willing to give you, a pre-approval letter will make a stronger impression on sellers and let them know you have the cash down payment.
- Be flexible so you can work with the seller. If the seller needs time to move, giving them that time will make your offer stand out against others. If the seller needs to move quickly, make sure you move as quickly as you can.This is another reason to be pre-approved by your lender before you make an offer.
- It helps to know what motivates a seller. A good buyer’s real estate agent will work with the seller’s agent to create a win-win situation for everyone.
- Many times a larger earnest money deposit looks good to a seller. Ask your real estate agent for advise, then consider doubling (or tripling) the suggested amount.
- Don’t ask for favors from the seller. A seller’s market isn’t the time to insist that the washer and dryer be included in the sales price, or ask the seller to make minor unnecessary repairs before closing.
- Giving the seller a couple of extra days to move out is not often used as a negotiating tool. A seller will appreciate an offer that lets them move at leisure. That kind of thinking will set your offer apart from others in a bidding war.
Chances are you can buy the house you want — even in today’s tough market.
In Mark Twain’s book “Roughing It”, he described what it was like floating off the north shore of Lake Tahoe in a little skiff.
“So singularly clear was the water, that where it was only twenty or thirty feet deep the bottom was so perfectly distinct that the boat seemed floating in the air. Yes, where it was even eighty feet deep. Every little pebble was distinct, every speckled trout, every hand’s-breadth of sand.”
In the years since that 1887 description of Tahoe’s water was written, the clarity of our lake has been degraded. Unfortunately, Lake Tahoe is definitely not as clear today as it used to be.
Regular measurements of Tahoe’s water clarity began in 1968. At that time a submerged white disc could clearly be seen at a depth of 100 feet. Today, a white disc disappears at around 70 feet. That’s the loss of about 9 inches of clarity per year.
Research into water quality has uncovered the causes of Tahoe’s decline. There has been an increase in fine sediment particles, as well as an increased growth of algae due to higher nutrient levels in the water. Automobile emissions, and both urban and forested area’s runoff can act like a fertilizer, speeding the algae growth. It’s a simple formula: more algae and fine sediment particles in the water equal less clarity.
Lake Tahoe is not doomed to become a muddy pond, at least, not yet. There is evidence indicating that the decline of water clarity has slowed since 2000, and can even be reversed. The goal is to return to 100 feet of clarity.
The California Regional Water Board, the Lahontan Water Board, and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection are committed to, and are working on, a strategy to bring back Lake Tahoe’s magical clarity.
For an in-depth understanding of the problem, and the work being done to decrease the pollutants causing the lake’s clarity decline, read the informative Charting The Course To Clarity. This easily read report also tells us “It takes about 700 years for a drop of water entering the lake to travel around and finally exit”. Fascinating – but how in the world did they measure that?
To get more involved in the efforts, Keep Tahoe Blue, League to Save Lake Tahoe lists ways for us to advocate, support, engage and volunteer.
Through inter-agency cooperation, citizen support, research, science, data collection, and a concept known as Tahoe Maximum Daily Load, someday we all will be able to read Mark Twain’s words and say to ourselves “Yup, he was right”.
Can you imagine bicycling from Incline Village to Spooner Lake comfortably, without worrying about heavy summer traffic as you navigate curve filled Highway 28? No? Now imagine a beautiful summer’s day with you on your bike and a safe, sensational 22 mile round trip ride in front of you. That day will come, but be patient. The Spooner Lake extension of the popular Eastside Trail won’t be completed until 2026, but when it is — wow!
The new section will be 8 miles long, extending the length of the trail to 11 beautiful miles.
The plan is to build the new section on the Lake side of Highway 28, following the highway’s route instead of the shoreline.
If the popularity of the existing 3 miles of the Eastside Trail gives us any hints, we can be sure that the completed trail will be well used. That leads to the question of parking. Currently there are 91 parking spaces at the Incline Village trailhead. However, The Tahoe Transportation District has applied for a grant to complete another 90 parking spaces along Highway 28 in Incline Village. If the grant is approved, construction will begin in 2021.
At the other end of the trail, plans for a 250 vehicle parking lot across from the Spooner Lake State Park entrance. Skunk Harbor will gain about 40 new parking spaces, with Secret Harbor and Chimney Beach getting 105 and 140 new parking spaces respectively. In total, over 535
new parking spaces are included in the planned extension. Also, planned are transit stops at each location. The Tahoe Fund points out that the expanded parking and transit stops are “to meet exiting visitor recreation access and not to encourage greater access to the beaches and coves.”
There is a goal larger than the trail from Incline Village to Spooner Lake. Eventually, the Tahoe Trail will circumnavigate Lake Tahoe. Right now, there are 35 completed miles just waiting for the hum of your bicycle wheels.
With so much to be done, construction continues. On the south end of the Lake, Tahoe Transportation District is completing a ½ mile connection from the casinos to the Rabe Meadow trail. There is also work on a 3 mile extension from the U.S. Forest Service’s Round Hill Pines Historic Resort to the Zephyr Cove Resort & Beach.
Additionally, the Tahoe Transportation District is seeking grant funding to complete the 3 mile segment from Crystal Bay to Incline Village.
Maybe the best part of all is that you can get involved. The Tahoe Fund is giving the opportunity to leave a legacy by having your name engraved on a donor wall for as little as a $100.00 donation. Or, for a larger donation, you can have your name engraved on a bear shaped paver, or a trout-shaped plaque.
To learn more about the plans and progress of the Lake Tahoe Trail, click on either of the links below:
The story, as told by some Tahoe residents, is that after Jacques Cousteau’s 1970s deep dive into Tahoe waters, he remarked “The world is not ready for what I have seen.” However, after some investigating the Los Angeles Times, along with other newspapers, reported that Jacques Cousteau never visited or made an underwater exploration of Lake Tahoe.
In 2011, a group of deep divers found the body of a man who’d been missing since 1994. The remains, in a wetsuit and still buckled into weights and a tank, was lying on a shelf over 200 feet below the surface. The missing diver had been with a friend but equipment problems caused him to begin sinking. An immediate and thorough search found no sign of him, leaving his well preserved remains hidden for 17 years.
Many are convinced that lava tubes connect Lake Tahoe with other area lakes. Some maintain that a tube exists between Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake, others swear that Tahoe is connected to Fallen Leaf Lake. No matter which lakes are attached what lakes, the believers are sure the presumed lava tubes hold many secrets — not to mention bodies.
Stories are plentiful about Tahoe Tessie, the legendary sometimes seen monster (think Loch Ness) who’s been seen swimming around our Lake. The UC Davis Tahoe Research Group attributes the stories and sightings to pareidolia (look it up) and/or the mistaken identification of a large breed fish. There are a few people who believe that when Tessie is resting between appearances, she hides out in an underwater cave at the base of supposedly haunted Cave Rock on the Lake’s east shore.
The most intriguing investigation of Lake Tahoe’s depths was in 2016. A group of amateurs dropped a Go Pro camera at one of the deepest points of the Lake. It took 4 minutes for the camera to reach the muddy bottom. The results were a bit disappointing, so the operators reeled their camera back in, attached a glow stick and a can of sardines to the Go Pro, and dropped the whole package overboard. After another 4 minutes they saw a smallish fish, and then the camera caught a larger very shark-like fish. Upon viewing the video, experts at UC Davis said the large swimmer was a big trout. Seriously?
It was an ambitious plan for audacious bicycle riders. A marked trail, for bicyclists (and hikers}, from the Tahoe City damn all the way to Pyramid Lake.
Starting in Tahoe City, at the damn beginning of the Truckee, you can follow the mountain water until it empties into Pyramid Lake, 116 miles away.
The Tahoe Pyramid Trail, begun in 2002, originally known as the Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway, is more than 80% complete. Plans are in motion to complete the unfinished 20%.
Most of the trail skirts traffic, but part of it merges with traffic for a few miles, especially when the dedicated bike trail from Tahoe City turns into a bike lane on busy Highway 89 at the Squaw Valley turn-off. At Truckee, though, the trail stays away from traffic, following the Truckee River as it descends from its 6,225’ beginning elevation to Pyramid Lake’s 3,700’. Though, there are a few other shared use portions in Reno itself.
As expected, the change in elevation results in a complete change of scenery. The lushness of the mountains gradually turns into a sparse but spectacular desert vistas, as shown in an interesting blog post from a dedicated Nevada cyclist.
The Tahoe Pyramid trail is marked by small arrowed signs pointing the way along the trail. Larger signs are found at section start and end points, giving more information, such as trail difficulty, current trail conditions, and services along that particular section. Also provided, at no cost, are digital tools, such as PDF maps to view or download, RideWithGPS, or Google Maps and GPX files to download.
If you are planning any kind of a trip along the trail, its website tahoepyramidtrail.org is loaded with information and pictures. The site breaks the trail down into sections, giving specific information about each section, and best of all great pictures have been posted showing the exact road/trail conditions you’ll be expected to navigate.
Traversing the Tahoe Pyramid Trail is no simple Sunday ride in the park. It has a few tough-looking parts, so it is obviously not suitable for everyone. Fortunately, the web site is a perfect source for planning, and for realizing the obstacles that must be overcome by either riders or walkers.
Summer is the perfect time to explore this well-planned trail. According to some calculations found on the internet, bike riders have to push their pedals 200 times to travel a statute mile. It follows then that an average rider has to pedal 23,200 times to complete a ride on the Tahoe Pyramid Trail. Are you up to it?
It was worth the wait. Even though it’s only been opened since June 2019, the Tahoe East Shore Trail is a stunning 3 mile walking/bike path that has acquired the deserved reputation of being one of America’s most beautiful bike paths.
The new path begins in Incline Village. It then climbs, drops, and winds its way to Sand Harbor Nevada State Park. The trail has plenty of viewpoints, lots of paths for Lake access, and places just to sit and enjoy a day full of sunshine. But the best part of the trail is that there is more to come.
An 8 mile extension from Sand Harbor to Spooner Lake is being planned. The US Forest Service has defined the proposed action. A few of the project’s goals are:
– improve highway safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists
– Expand and add off-highway parking
– Tie into the Tahoe Basin’s bicycle network
– Protect the quality and character of the existing outdoor recreation resources
– Minimize impact to Tahoe’s natural features
– Provide accessible, sustainable connections to the shoreline and trails
– Restore 7 miles of user-created routes to their natural states
– Construction of a permanent vessel inspection station at Highways 28 & 50
A few miles of a shared-use path seems like a simple project, however, the steepness of the terrain, existing utilities, and environmental concerns could well rule out any fast completion.
Retaining walls, slope stabilization, safety railings are only a few of the obstacles planners will have to take into consideration. The Forest Service report wisely and repeatedly points out the need to protect the quality and character of the existing resources while providing excellent user experiences.
If the first 3 miles of the East Shore Trail is the example that will be followed, it’s assured that the Spooner Lake segment will be spectacular.
Just imagine getting on your bike one super summer day, and being able to pedal all the way to Spooner Lake – safely. Nothin’ better!
The number of sightings in 2020 are up. The annual bald eagle count showed that 24 of our magnificent national symbols were calling the Lake Tahoe Basin home this year.
The second Friday in January is designated for the official Mid-Winter Bald Eagle count. As part of the nationwide effort, about 90 volunteers from the Tahoe Institute for Natural Science (TINS) fanned out across our basin, binoculars at the ready. Two dozen bald eagles were spotted this January.
Bald eagles were plentiful in1782 when they were adopted as America’s national bird. Their population began to decline, not only due to loss of habitat, but to poisoning and poaching as well. People believed the eagles were a threat to livestock, and a competitor for hunting game.
By 1940 bald eagles were almost at the point of extinction. Congress passed the Bald Eagle Protection Act, prohibiting killing, selling or possessing them.
However, in 1945 DDT became available in the United States and its use spread rapidly. Eagle populations began to plummet. DDT, effective in controlling many insect pests, poisoned America’s waterways and contaminated the food chain. DDT also proved to be instrumental in eggshell thinning. Female bald eagles can weigh as much as 14 pounds, so it’s easy to imagine what would happen to a thin shelled egg during incubation.
By 1963, only 487 nesting pairs of bald eagles remained in the United States. It took almost 10 years for the U.S. to ban the use of DDT, but shortly after the 1972 ban went into effect, our eagle population began to rise.
These days over 10,000 nesting pairs live in the lower 48 states. Additionally, it’s been estimated that there are over 30,000 bald eagles in Alaska.
Even though the bald eagle is no longer in danger of immediate extinction, a loss of habitat is still a concern. Eagles need large mature trees for perching and roosting, and especially for building their nests, which can be up to 5 feet in diameter and as much as 2 feet deep. Eagle pairs prefer to use the same nest year after year, adding to it each breeding season. Older nests weigh as much as a ton. That calls for strong branches on a large tree.
No one ever feels complacent at the sight of a bald eagle. Residents of the Tahoe area always catch their breath when they spot those white heads and enormous outstretched wings cruising the mountain air currents.
Let’s all remember to keep them safe. A blue Tahoe sky without eagle wings? Never!
All buyers expect a professional home inspector to provide an in-depth report of the property’s structures and systems. Certainly, it is a worthwhile investment that can either warn buyers away from a bad purchase, or provide buyers with the knowledge of deficiencies they can use to further negotiate with the sellers.
The inspector’s report will also list minor repairs that, when made, will help to maintain a property over the long term. Inspectors sometimes make a prediction about the standard life expectancy of the roof, HVAC, and other systems expensive to replace. That means buyers can plan for their eventual replacement.
However, some mistakes could be made during the inspection process that cost buyers time and money. Avoid common buyer oversights to have confidence in any home purchase
Make Your Own Inspection
Always make a visual assessment of the property before submitting an offer, so that expected expenses can be considered in the offer price.
Turn on a bathroom sink or tub, then flush the toilet. Is there a drop in water pressure or a strange sound coming from the pipes? Running the water in sinks and tubs for might indicate drainage issues. Always look underneath sinks to spot signs of leaks.
Suspicious cracks in walls and ceilings could indicate foundation issues. Look for yellow spots on walls which might be from water damage. Black spots are usually mold. In a basement, powdery white deposits along the walls and slab are caused by water seepage.
Feel around windows and doors for significant drafts. They may need replacing. Look at the roof. Are the shingles in good shape or is it obvious the roof needs work? Check all wooden structures for signs of rot.
Does the whole property appear to be well maintained? Take the overall condition of the property into consideration when you submit an offer.
Work with your real estate agent to factor in repairs and updates you know you’ll need to make when you determine your offer price
Carefully Read The Inspection Report
Inspection reports can be long. But there is a risk of missing important information by not carefully reading the report.
The time to address any areas of concern is as soon as the inspection report is issued. Time is limited for buyers to request repairs or negotiate the selling price in the event of significant problems.
The inspection may also flag some minor items. However, ignoring small issues can sometimes lead to bigger problems. Make sure to read everything in the report to avoid surprises.
No House Is Perfect
Lengthy inspection reports uncover a great number of deficiencies. It is important to understand which problems require simple fixes, and which ones will require expensive repairs.
Your real estate agent can help decide if, and how, to approach the sellers. Focus on the major issues identified in the inspector’s report, and don’t expect the sellers to address every minor item on the list.
There are times when an agent or inspector will recommend bringing in a specialist. For example, they may suggest testing for mold, radon or consulting a roofer.
Some buyers, in their rush to close or desire to save money, choose to ignore the recommendation for additional testing.
In some cases, the specialist will offer a free evaluation that are quick to schedule. And if not, the small investment you make could provide peace of mind and could mean future savings.
Have Repairs Re-inspected
Receipts to prove that repairs have been completed are received by buyers or deposited into escrow as part of the closing procedure. It can be prudent to go a step further to have repairs re-evaluated even if there’s an additional charge.
To avoid problems, be specific when requesting repairs. Identify the problem, how repairs should be completed, who should complete the work, and how the repairs will be verified.
Don’t depend on anyone else for information about weather conditions. There is nothing like seeing for yourself. If you want to know the road conditions, there’s a webcam for that. How about snow? Want to see whether it’s snowing or not at your favorite resort? There’s a webcam for that.
North Lake Tahoe boasts a multitude of webcams for your convenience. Below are links to them, so you get a head start on your weekend plans.
It seems like a new webcam pops up almost daily, so we’ll keep updating as we discover the new views.
Tahoe City Marina