I am tempted to title this post “Training Can Be Fun (Revisited)” because, in a way, it is a continuation of a training walk I did last August starting from the same place just west of Tahoe City on CA-89. After walking the last half mile to the Tahoe City “Y”, last year I continued south on one bike trail to Homewood, while this year I continued northeast on a new section of bike path toward Dollar Point. Both bike paths are parts of the Lake Tahoe Bikeway. My plan was to walk about 3 miles to Skylandia Park and back. At Skylandia Park I planned to watch part of the finish of the Trans Tahoe Relay which was taking place that day. I considered this to be a training walk in the sense that I was preparing to walk a half marathon in two weeks and expected to walk the bike trail fairly briskly. The reference to last year’s post is also intended to indicate that a walk near the shore of Lake Tahoe is a wonderful way to have fun while training!
On a summer weekend day there is always a lot of activity involving rafting on the Truckee River from the dam to Alpine Meadows Road. This day was no exception, with a nearly constant stream of rafts with their occupants having fun just floating – or splashing friends in a neighboring raft.
After reaching the “Y” and crossing CA-89 where it heads south toward Homewood, you walk across the dam and gates that regulate the water flow down the Truckee River. On the Lake Tahoe side of the dam the water is calm, and I noted standup paddleboarders practicing their skills nearby.
The new section of bike trail continues right along the lake shore for about a mile, bypassing the busy downtown Tahoe City area. Much of this area is known as Commons Beach, which is a public beach. Quite a few families were out on the beach, enjoying the beautiful day, with the Carson Range on the East side of Lake Tahoe providing a spectacular backdrop.
Near Commons Beach there is a small building against the embankment overlooking Lake Tahoe. It was built in the late 1930’s as a jail, and prisoners had a nice view of the lake from either of the cells.
A bit farther is the Tahoe City Marina, with a preponderance of motor boats and relatively few sailboats, as seems to be the boating custom on Lake Tahoe.
Regulars include the Tahoe Gal, a North Tahoe-based paddlewheeler that takes passengers on lake cruises several times a day.
A little past the marina area I found a public pier reaching out into the lake and inviting me to explore.
Just past the pier, the bike path zigzags up the embankment and proceeds northeast just off the shoulder of CA-28, where I took note of the traffic backup heading the other direction into Tahoe City. This was about a mile from the “Y,” and I was very glad that I was not going to have to experience this backup on my return trip!
Just a couple of miles from Tahoe City is the town of Lake Forest, which occupies a mini-peninsula leading out to Dollar Point. As it turns out, I was planning to arrive at Skylandia Park at a certain time and I was a bit early, so I decided to continue past my planned turnoff from the bike path, in the interest of walking rather than standing around. After my short detour I departed from the bike path and walked along Lake Forest Road toward Skylandia Park. I wasn’t quite sure of the best way to get to the beach area where the Trans Tahoe Relay was finishing, so I basically used the trail-finding method of “following my nose” – and asking other people who were evidently headed for the same destination.
The Trans Tahoe Relay is a so-called open-water swim relay, and the route crosses Lake Tahoe. Teams of 6 swimmers take turns swimming, with the non-swimming members in a follow boat. There is a specified amount of time for each swimmer to swim before handing off to the next swimmer. The public beach at Skylandia Park was the location of the finish line. Approximately 185 teams participated, and they arrived at the finish line spaced out over about 3 hours. Here are two swimmers putting on a bit of a sprint to the finish line.
The actual finish line was a mat on the shore next to a pier at the public beach. Each finishing swimmer had to navigate along the pier to the mat carrying the team’s timing chip, then go across the mat with the chip close enough to ground level to record a finish time. Here a swimmer is approaching the mat and has been greeted by a couple of children who are enjoying the experience.
A friend of a friend was on one of the participating teams, and it was fun to watch the anchor leg swimmer of the team finish the race. The finish area was quite a busy place, with spectators like me watching the finishers. Also, the team boats made sure their swimmer got to the finish, then had to figure out where to get the boat out of the water; I never did figure out quite where that important step was accomplished.
It was great fun to watch the finish for awhile and then walk back to Tahoe City to my car. I had an easy time parking, much easier than those who drove to the finish area! And it was, once again, a wonderful venue for a training walk for my upcoming half marathon.