Full-steam ahead for skiers going to North Shore
She may not be fast, but she’s steady.
The Tahoe Queen launched from the Ski Run Marina in Lake Tahoe on Monday morning for its inaugural season skier shuttle to the North Shore. About 60 people eager to hit the slopes of Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley shuttled onto the boat.
Among them was Robin Smith of Clearwater, Fla., who was headed to Squaw via the water transit instead of driving.
“This is a good option — something different, an all-inclusive day,” said Smith, a skier of 15 years who is at Lake Tahoe on vacation. She had planned on the shuttle before her arrival in Tahoe, but the low-water mark left some doubt that boat travel to the Tahoe City dock was possible.
Recent storms have raised the lake level to 6,223.61 feet — almost half a foot from a Dec. 14 reading. In November, the lake was measured at its lowest point in eight years, falling close to its 6,223-foot natural rim by 2 centimeters.
Aramark Tahoe General Manager Chuck Shapiro said the company is “definitely relieved” the lake has returned to an adequate level that allows for the service.
It’s a new day for the paddle-wheeler, which no longer shares its shuttle schedule with the M.V. Meteor and continues to make its weekend runs to Emerald Bay.
New owner Aramark Corp. — which also operates the M.S. Dixie II paddle-wheeler — took over the Hornblower Cruises fleet, including the Tahoe Paradise in July. The high-speed Meteor was docked three months later when its shuttle service showed diminished ticket sales.
Aramark is selling the Meteor — named after an old logging steamer — for about $120,000.
The Queen’s weekday package includes the cross-lake boat ride, bus transportation to Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley, breakfast and dinner for $119. The boat leaves the Ski Run dock at 7:30 a.m. on Monday through Friday and returns from Tahoe City at 5:30 p.m.
“The Queen will have to hold her breath when she pulls in (to Tahoe City),” Communications Director Carol Chaplin said, knowing the lake level will make for challenging dockings. As the morning light doused the lake, she watched the vessel from the marina parking lot with a hint of nostalgia. “It’s cool to see that boat take off.”
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