Column: You don’t know what you’ve got …
I’m not a very strong swimmer. Anyone who’s seen my modified doggy-paddle-breast-stroke technique can attest to that.
Last weekend I went for a little swim on the East Shore, just north of Sand Harbor.
The wind was whipping around with a power I’ve seldom seen in my year here, causing the lake to roll toward shore in 5- to 8-foot swells. I soon discovered my modified doggy-paddle-breast-stroke wasn’t the ideal method for swimming in such seas. For every stroke I made, a pint or so of crisp cold Lake Tahoe forced its way down my throat. I was 40 yards from the rocky shore and two toes in my right foot were cramping – I started pondering the likelihood of survival.
My companions for the excursion were already back near shore, struggling to find a way onto the boulders that line the water’s edge. They’re both strong swimmers.
But as I fought the mighty lake, I found myself thinking “Damn, I’m pretty lucky to live here.”
With monumental effort, I succeeded in reaching the shore. Another monumental effort had me safely on the rocks, the heat of the late-afternoon sun drying my frigid flesh.
Pacifico in hand, I tried to figure out why the thought had crept into my head when it did. It was definitely an odd thought to have, considering the predicament I was in at the time.
The only thing I could come up with as an explanation was that I’ve taken living in the area for granted. Sure I snowboarded 50-60 days last season, and sure I’ve enjoyed the bustling nightlife the town has to offer.
But honestly, I’ve got more regrets than I’d like to admit.
One of them is that I haven’t hiked at all, limiting my participation in the outdoor lifestyle to a handful of swimming excursions and a few rounds of golf. Some might say I shouldn’t count those trips to Bijou Municipal Golf Course. But if I don’t count golfing as an outdoor activity, then I really haven’t done anything. And I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, where thousands of wilderness trails are but minutes away.
My excuse? I’m just about as city as they come. Never been much into hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, rafting or any other outdoor sport that doesn’t involve a ball. I’ve got a feeling it won’t be long before the city calls me back, and I will no longer even have the opportunity to summit Tallac, float down the Truckee or ride waist-deep powder through the trees at Sierra. I think that’s the reason I had the thought when I did. I know my time in Tahoe is running short. What better place to consider it than while swimming in the world renowned lake itself?
A few Pacificos later, I was fully clothed and a little buzzed. A couple hours had passed, and I was still sitting on the same rock, watching the sun sink behind the peaks west of the lake. I’ve been here just short of a year, and it was the first sunset I’ve witnessed in the Sierra.
Streaks of orange and red erupted from behind the mountains of the West Shore and got caught in a thin net of clouds.
The thought came again. I’m pretty lucky to live here. It’s just too bad it took me this long to realize it.
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