Donner Lake kayak tour lends confidence to young one |

Donner Lake kayak tour lends confidence to young one

Paul and Judy Ackerman
Special to the Sun
Paul and Judy Ackerman prepare to launch on a Donner Lake kayak tour with their grand daughter Montana Martin.
Photos courtesy Paul and Judy Ackerman |

Everything looks a lot bigger through the eyes of children.

When our 8-year-old grand daughter, Montana Martin, looked out at Donner Lake and the prospect of kayaking all the way around it, she thought it would be a difficult feat.

We spoke earlier in the year about kayaking around Lake Tahoe. My wife, Judy, and I have completed four circumnavigations of the lake.

Our first kayak/camp trip was inspired by CW and Ethel Vernon, who spent their honeymoon canoeing around Lake Tahoe in October 1911.

We felt an easier introduction to kayaking for Montana would be a trip around Donner Lake.

Tuesday, Aug. 19, was our launch date.


We took off from the north side boat ramp, with Montana leading the way in her bright yellow 5-foot kayak.

Her adrenaline kept her moving rapidly — we could hardly keep pace. Montana said, “It’s hard but fun.”

Waters were calm as we cruised past beautiful northeast shore homes and secluded east end beaches, finally stopping for a break on a sandy beach where Donner Creek begins

We left our little beach paradise and paddled west into increasing winds swopping down from Donner Summit.

“At times it was cold, because once I fell off my kayak,” said Montana about this particular stretch. “No problem, I warmed up on shore and changed into dry clothes”.


After fighting the head winds for 2 miles we searched for a rest stop. Since this part of the shoreline is privately owned, you can’t just pull in anywhere. We did, however, have a plan.

We have friends who live along this part of the lake and if they were home, we could pop in for an unplanned visit.

Luck was with us.

As we approached their pier they came out and waved us in.

“I got off my kayak and hopped into a large tube, where I relaxed and took a suntan,” said Montana of the stop.

We visited with our buddies Bob and Jerady Hawkins, and then had to say our farewell.

It was mid afternoon when we continued on our journey. We made it to the west end just as the winds were really picking up.

“My hat blew off in the wind and I tried to reach it with my oar,” Montana recalled. “Then I remembered my Nona warning me never lean too far over when in my kayak because once she did when trying to get her sunglasses and fell in.”

Montana wisely snagged the hat with the oar.

We used mother nature’s 25 mph west winds and 2- to 3-foot waves to propel us on the last leg of our journey eastward to our launch point.

Montana cruised through the rough seas confidently, being the first to land at the boat ramp. My wife and I were still struggling to land without falling in the water.

At the end of an adventurous day, our grand daughter had a new appreciation for nature and an exciting way she can take part in it.

Paul and Judy Ackerman are Tahoe Vista residents. Read about the Ackerman’s 2011 re-creation of CW and Ethel Vernon’s1911 honeymoon row around Lake Tahoe, in celebration of the hundreth anniversary.

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User