Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I Am Sad

Tahoe FireOne of my very favorite places in all of the country has been steadily destroyed by smoke and flames since Sunday when a forest fire (thought to be sparked accidentally by human activity) broke out in the Angora Lake region of South Lake Tahoe, California.

Over 3,100 acres - about 4.7 square miles - as well as 220 homes and other structures have fallen victim to the fast-moving flames which, according to the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Control Unit, are currently 44% contained. Over 1,809 personnel have been battling a fire that they hope to have fully contained by July 3rd though they still face the possibility of high winds in the region over the next three days which could cause the flames to jump the fire lines again.

Tahoe Fire
“This is the biggest disaster that has happened to this community in, probably, forever,” said Lt. Kevin House of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department in a televised interview.
I'm going to have to agree with Lt. House as it has always been my belief that Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful areas in the country and there is no doubt that a fire of this magnitude will leave scars on the area for a very long time to come.

Some of my best memories of my years in California are from various trips to Lake Tahoe with not only friends I had made in California but with my Mom & Dad when they came out to visit when I lived in Stockton. No trip to California was ever quite complete without a trip to Lake Tahoe, though I'm sad to say that my last trip out didn't provide the opportunity for a drive through the mountains to visit a place I have come to love.

The shores of Lake Tahoe were the home of the Washo Indians for thousands of years before John C. Frémont, an American explorer dubbed "The Great Pathfinder", and his guide Kit Carson first spied the lake on an expedition in the Sierra Nevadas on February 14th, 1844 from an area now known as Carson's Pass on Route 88. The first non-indigenous man to view Lake Tahoe from what is now Highway 50, my preferred route of travel, was John Calhoun Johnson, another Sierra explorer.

There is just no way to describe the beauty that lies before you as you round the last turn on State Highway 50 from Sacramento and look out towards the lake - which is still 10 miles in the distance. Lake Tahoe is the second deepest lake in the United States with its depth plunging to 1,645 feet. It's 22 miles long, 12 miles wide, and has 71 miles of shoreline, two-thirds of which lies in California. Is it any wonder that Mark Twain, when visiting the lake in 1861 for several weeks declared: "The eye never tired of gazing, night or day, calm or storm."?

I came this close to taking a job as a dispatcher at the City of South Lake Tahoe Police Department in the late 80's before I remembered that I didn't really like the cold weather in Connecticut so how much more would I not like it in a place that has an average winter snowpack of 225 inches, or nearly 20 feet! In retrospect, though, I always wonder if that was the wrong decision and how different my life might be now had I taken that job. I guess I will never know.

Though it has been way too many years since I've had the pleasure of coming around the bend on Highway 50 and having my breath taken away, yet again, by the natural beauty that stretched out before me it truly pains me to watch the news reports of what is happening to that beautiful land. Rather than the fiery images above this is how I will always choose to remember Lake Tahoe:

Lake Tahoe
I hope they are able to get that fire under control soon without too much further loss of land and property. Best wishes to all the brave firefighters and to those who call Tahoe home.

13 comments:

  1. That's a well researched post, Linda, didnt know half of that history. It looks like the forests are in danger evermoreso every year.

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  2. Thank god we have people who are wiling to fight these fires at least... just imagine how bad it could be...

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  3. Thanks for all the info Linda, I certainly didn't know any of it. It's tragic when this happens. I know from relatives in Australia that bush fires are devastating, but strangely it always seems to grow back just as lush as before. The main thing is that none of the firefighters are hurt during the operation. I'll keep my fingers crossed that they get it under control soon.

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  4. Wow, that IS sad!

    Thoughts and prayers to the folks out there trying to protect that beautiful place!!!

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  5. We had a home there in the 90's. I grew up there. I miss it so much. On the top of the summit on hwy 50, there is Echo lake spent many a summer there. We always started our back packing trips there. Isn't that the scariest road when you come around the corner and it's a shear cliff on one side. Creepy..... Yikes. I will miss this place. I remember a few years ago the big fires that swept thru Kyburz just about 30 back down highway 50. Remember hearing about those. All those cute little weekend cabins went up in smoke. So sad. God's country for sure it is.

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  6. So very sad.

    Praying that those brave men will have the fire put out soon.

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  7. We were lucky enough to visit there once, that area is just wonderful. It amazes me that we have not learned that fuel on the ground will burn, mostly sooner than later.

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  8. Sounds like such a beautiful place, Linda. Here's to hoping those brave folks in fire suits will be able to bring this "monster" under control, and thereby preserve some of the natural beauty.

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  9. I love Lake Tahoe and have visited several times...both in the summer and winter. I heard this morning that they're making some progress in fighting the fire and I'm hoping we'll see an end to the devastation soon. Thank goodness we have such a well trained group of fire fighters who risk their lives to battle this deadly menace.

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  10. You are so right about coming around the bend on Highway 50 and having your breath taken away. All the years I have traveled there it still takes my breath away. There have been so many fires along Highway 50, but not in Tahoe. I hope they get it under control soon. It was at 44% containment last evening. Excellent post Linda. :)

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  11. Very good and informative post -just exactly what one would expect from you from all angles -personal and professional.
    Now -I tried to comment yesterday about the meme, but couldn't get blogger to cooperate with me. Are you trying to get my pea brain to explode with a meme like that? LOL
    I have copied it and saved it to a text file where I will work on it and hopefully might be able to conjure up some semi-intelligent answers! A million dollars though -hmmm -a toss up which to do first -buy a Winnebago (top of line too, of course) and set off on a complete tour of North America or pay of my bills and those my kids have too. If I want the RV, I better buy it and get moving on the "tour" first, don't 'cha think?

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  12. It is tragic now, not only Tahoe but most of California which hasn't had enough rain in two years.

    We have to have faith that somehow Lake Tahoe will renew itself eventually.

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  13. That is terribly sad but with each forest fire there is rebirth too. Let's hope it can come back even stronger.

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