Paddling into fall on Donner Lake |

Paddling into fall on Donner Lake

Alice and I decided to kick off fall with a morning kayak trek at Donner Lake. We arrived shortly before 9 a.m. The temperature was 43 degrees and it felt very crisp.

The mist on the lake’s surface was quickly dissipating and the fingers of fog above the lake were beginning to evaporate. The lake was as calm and still as we have seen it in a long time. We launched at the Tahoe Donner Marina and noticed that the lake level was dropping quickly. I presume the gatekeeper must have opened the dam gates last week and knowing how quickly the water level drops, the lake should reach its winter low (at the bottom of the dam) within the next week or so.

As we paddled out from the marina in a direction towards China Cove, we saw only 3 boats on the lake. Two of them were larger boats and one fishing boat. No water skiing or wake boarding this morning….just fishermen.

As we paddled a little further we went past two female swimmers who were setting quite a pace. They were in their wet (or dry) suits and you could tell they knew what they were doing. What motivates people to pursue such extreme athletic endeavors, I have never totally figured out. But I applaud their athleticism and their determination.

Once we got over near the south shore of the lake, the depth of the water became very shallow. From the mouth of the inlet leading to the dam, all the way to China Cove, the water was very shallow and crystal clear. You could see the bottom clearly and on occasion we bottomed out. When we reached China Cove the bottom disappeared abruptly as this is one of the deepest parts of Donner Lake. The lake depth is over 300 feet there.

On our return trip we went into the inlet and down the channel to the dam. About the time we could see the dam we were surrounded by scores of fish. Yet there were no fishermen found.

The current was so strong going towards the dam, the fish appeared to be staying in one place yet were swimming vigorously against the rapid flow. Kayaking against the current on the way out was slow going compared to the pace we were able to maintain on the glassy waters earlier.

The water level at the dam was down below the tops of the metal gates. There is probably 2 to 3 feet to go until the water finally levels off at the rim for the winter.

Unfortunately our trek ended about an hour after we began as I needed to go into work and also needed to get this column written. It was a wonderful morning and a memorable way to begin the beautiful fall season.

As many of you readers know, we are not fans of excess signage.

For the last few weeks it has been disturbing to see that it takes a message board (2 during the Labor Day weekend), 3 “on ramp closed”, and 5 or 6 other signs to warn drivers that the I-80 westbound ramp across the street from the Shell station is closed and that the alternate on ramp just past the Shell needs to be used. Since this condition is going to continue for probably another year or two, may we suggest the following…

One message sign: “Alternate I-80 westbound on ramp ahead.” Across from the Shell station: either another message sign, or a painted sign “Alternate westbound I-80 on ramp” with an arrow pointing to it. Saying the other on ramp is closed is really of no importance.

The general election is just over a month away. Besides the Presidential election, there are a multitude of state and local seats up for grabs and several measures including Measure U, Truckee’s school facilities bond issue.

We are not making a stand for any particular candidate or on any of the issues. But we strongly urge that you join us in committing to listening to, or reading about, the candidates and issues at hand….and vote!

There will be candidate nights and in the case of the school bond there will be meetings to discuss Measure U. There are new candidates challenging many incumbents. Make sure you understand the positions of both the incumbents and their challengers…and choose wisely.

In the case of Measure U and future bonds and overrides, we hope you will analyze “each” carefully and vote your conscience. To vote “no” on such measures “just because” you are flat tired of paying and paying and paying is not being responsible to yourself or your community. I make this statement only because I (Norm), myself, am getting tired of paying and paying and paying!

The Boreal lodge was the location of the first Rotary “Cadillac Ball.” Winners included Charlie White, Mary De Lisle, Pete Kolp, and Jim Porter.

According to Charlie the runner up prizes were fun type prizes including old skis and other skiing memorabilia. Jay Price mentioned that many of the women had to wear boots and heavy coats with their formal wear to go from the parking lot to the lodge.

Prior to incorporation and Truckee’s new street signs, the old Nevada County street signs were very hard to read at night. Why? Call us or email us at with your answer.

” Norm and Alan Nicholls of the Nicholls Real Estate Group are affiliated with Dickson Realty at 11500 Donner Pass Rd.

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