Pine Nuts: Inherent powers of the Lake of the Sky |

Pine Nuts: Inherent powers of the Lake of the Sky

As recently reported in this fine family journal, your Nevada neighbor and age-old fossil McAvoy was a lifeguard at Lake Tahoe away back in the summer of ’61 at the tender age of 17. Having also been blessed to gaze out upon the Lake of the Sky yet again in 2021 at the rich old age of 77, well, I have to believe that the Lake of the Sky comingles time and space in such a robust way as to effectively suspend one’s chronological age. Put another way, a seventeen year old can gaze out upon Tahoe’s cobalt blue water and feel a wise 77, just as a 77 year old can gaze out upon Tahoe’s cobalt blue water and feel a giddy 17. Having experienced this firsthand, and knowing it to be true, at least for me, Tahoe remains to my mind, the most powerful of all possible places.

I have to believe Mother Nature or God, (different words to me for the same thing) put some extra energy into the creation of this Lake of the Sky. The colliding of tectonic plates, erupting of volcanoes, and artistic carving of glaciers gave us what Mark Twain called, “The Masterpiece of the Universe.”

But she can be cold. I remember a Tahoe triathlon that was well named and short lived, “The World’s Toughest Triathlon.” We swam 2.4 miles in the lake, rode our bikes 112 miles over arduous mountain passes of Luther and Monitor, then ran a full marathon along the fire trails of Fallen Leaf Lake, before I laid down on the finish line to die. But for the healing powers of Tahoe, I surely would have succumbed to the cold and exhaustion right there on the finish line, and would have welcomed the pleasant variety of heaven or hell, either one.

During the swim of the first year of that triathlon I remember seeing a surfboard appear out of nowhere, and I was surprised to see a lady on top of that surfboard. I thought I was dreaming, and that she might actually be a mermaid, but she yelled out to me, “Where do you think you’re going?”

I had no idea what she was talking about, and she yelled again, “You’re going out toward the middle of the lake! Follow me!”

I had hypothermia, and when I climbed out of the lake they grabbed me, one person under each arm, led me into a tent, and stood me in front of a humongous heater until I turned from white to purple to red. And for the next year after that, whenever I walked into my favorite Tahoe tavern I would likely overhear this rejoinder, “So, what’s the difference between McAvoy and the Titanic?” Everybody together, “The Titanic had a band!”

My life-long love affair with The Lake of the Sky has been bitter sweet, mostly sweet. The World’s Toughest Triathlon lasted only a few short years, maybe because it was well named, and perhaps just a leetle too tough …

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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