Outdoor fun panned for weekend
June 3, 2011
After the Tour of California’s snow-cursed start and Memorial Day Weekend’s cloudy, cold anti-climax, another pair of events will try to ring in the hot season this weekend: Wild Tahoe Weekend and the annual Highway 50 Association Wagon Train.
Hosted by the U.S. Forest Service and several partners at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center, Wild Tahoe Weekend will offer residents and visitors and chance to get to know the region’s wildlife in a variety of ways.
Saturday will center around the Lake Tahoe Bird Day, now in its second year. There will be bird walks where participants can scope bald eagles, willow flycatchers and goshawks. A falconer will display live birds of prey.
Several local scientists will speak about migratory birds and what’s being done to protect them.
Kids will be able to learn how to hoot like an owl, make bird feeding sticks from peanut butter and birdseed, and create their own nests. Food, games and crafts will also be provided.
“We’re really trying to expand upon local bird knowledge here in the basin,” said Lindsay Gusses, a USFS conservation educator and event organizer.
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The first Festival of Native Species will be held on Sunday. Participants will plant Tahoe yellow cress, an endangered plant species, walk through the aspens with a knowledgeable guide and learn about the Tahoe Basin’s unique flora and fauna. Local bluegrass band Bison will entertain the crowd and the Lake Tahoe Environmental Magnet School will parade through the event. Several elementary classes will release the Lahontan trout they’ve been raising.
“I think it’ll be a lot of fun, especially if the weather is good,” Gusses said. “I’m always surprised, though. Even if the weather is bad, people still want to come out and enjoy nature.”
Now in its 62nd year, the Wagon Train will once again roll from Zephyr Cove to Placerville in a hooting, hollering rout of costumed cowboys, not-so dainty damsels and cavorting youngsters. The train will leave Stateline on Sunday and arrive in Placerville six days later.
“It’s a tribute to our pioneers,” said Davey Wiser, who’s made the trek for 34 consecutive years. “Without them, we might still be stuck in Iowa or somewhere.”
The caravan has changed over the years, Wiser said. The “hellacious” dances and parties the group used to throw have been toned down. But in many ways it remains the same, he added. The wagon master is still the boss. The dress is still to period. And the merits are still there.
“The wagon train perpetuates some good old fashion values,” Wiser said. “It’s amazing. When somebody needs a hand, everybody pitches in.”
On their first day, the group will travel from Stateline to Amacker Ranch in Meyers, where they’ll circle the wagons for a barbecue. From there, they’ll make their way over Echo Summit and down to the Strawberry Lodge. With NOAA forecasting a chance of storms for their first two days, the old-time travelers will have to be prepared for precipitation. The last time it snowed on the wagons was in 1992, Wiser said.
“We stopped at Harvey’s,” he said. “They told us later that we drank eight gallons of hot chocolate. Of course, I snuck a shot of Jack Daniels.”
Any one can register for a seat in one of the 16 wagons. Registration can be paid each day or for the entire trip. The wagons will head down Highway 50 from Stateline and take Lake Tahoe Boulevard to Amacker Ranch on Sunday. See Hwy50wagontrain.com for more details.