Friday, September 9, 2016

OVER THE BOW: LAKE TAHOE

 
I have kayaked bigger lakes by far. Under Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior, Lake of the Wood on the border of U.S. and Canada and into sea caves along Lake Michigan in Door County Wisconsin.  All of those lakes are massive in size.  At their edge you look out into a sea swell as far as you can see. The horizon falls off into waves. However, at the Lake Tahoe you look across to see the gleaming Sierra Nevada Mountains raising from its blue depths and feel the majesty of the place. American writer, Mark Twain described the thoughts we all must experience when seeing the lake for the first time or one hundredth.

  "...at last the Lake burst upon us—a noble sheet of blue water lifted six thousand three hundred feet above the level of the sea, and walled in by a rim of snow-clad mountain peaks that towered aloft full three thousand feet higher still! ... As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords."

You will need waterproof pocket Thesaurus to come up with all the different types of color blue you will see when paddling around the lake. Its cobalt color was long credited to the unusual clarity of the water, however surprising new research suggests that the real explanation lies with algae that lives in the lake.

“The result was totally unexpected, since we all expected that clarity and blueness of the lake is correlated,” Dr. Shohei Watanabe, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Davis, told The Huffington Post, “Clarity is mainly controlled by fine inorganic sediments but blueness is mainly controlled by algal populations.”
Using help from NASA, Wantanabe, measured the lake’s blueness and then combined this “blueness index” with measurements of a Secchi disk, a white disk commonly used to measure its transparency of water that remains visible when it's lowered into it. His results showed that the bluer the lake, the lower the clarity of its water and the lake is actually bluest when algae concentration is low, suggesting a possible need to change in conservation efforts, which traditionally have focused on controlling sediment to keep the lake water clear.


The blueness of the lake is extraordinary along the massive granite walls of D.L. Bliss State Park's Rubicon Point. There it is hard for me to take my eyes off the water as it changes in hues blues as I paddle along with my son Taylor. Under the point it is the most stunning shade of indigo I think I have ever seen. North of fabled Emerald Bay, this area is a  popular spot for boaters as well as swimmers, who brave the cool waters. Kayaks and speed boats rock along in the waves along the shoreline. For me, finally paddling towards the horizon of mountains  proves to be an exhilarating experience.

"This place is spectacular because it is one of the highest, deepest, oldest and purest lakes in the world." said President Barack Obama told a crowd of about 9,000 at the 20th annual Lake Tahoe Summit last week, "It’s no wonder that for thousands of years, this place has been a spiritual one. For the Washoe people, it is the center of their world. And just as this space is sacred to Native Americans, it should be sacred to all Americans."

He challenged all of us, to keep the lake's spirit alive through conservation and combating climate change to protect its pristine views, keep its air pure and most certainly its waters clear and blue.

Over the Bow is a feature from Outside Adventure to the Max, telling the story behind the image. If you have a great picture with a great story, submit it to us at nickayak@gmail.com