Will ‘The Thrill’ Clark forever a Giant with number being retired

Will ‘The Thrill’ Clark forever a Giant with number being retired

No. 22 joins some elite company of retired Giants numbers. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

No. 22 became No. 11 on July 30.

The San Francisco Giants retired Will Clark’s number last month in a ceremony that was one of those once in a lifetime experiences.

Considering the former first baseman’s number was only the 11th to be retired by the San Francisco Giants this clearly is not something that happens often. (Two other numbers have been retired from the New York Giants.)

The ceremony involved men he played with like Robby Thompson, Dave Dravecky, Barry Bonds, Jeffrey Leonard and Kevin Mitchell; former managers Roger Craig and Dusty Baker; as well as Giants legends Willie Mayes, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, and Gaylord Perry.

More than one person who spoke Saturday summed up Clark as “intense.”

Will Clark on July 30 addresses the fans at Oracle Park in San Francisco. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

His former teammate, housemate and now broadcaster Mike Krukow said of Clark, “He made it cool to be a Giants fan again.”

Clark was one of my favorite players. He was fun to watch. He cared. He gave it his all. He was dynamic. This was when I was just becoming a true Giants fan. This was before I was part of a season ticket group. Before the fancy new ballpark.

Clark played for the Giants for eight years starting in 1986. This meant he was at Candlestick Park his entire playing time with the Giants. During his speech he gave a nod to that windy stadium, exaggerating just a bit about how it could be difficult to find the ball among all the swirling hot dog wrappers.

His nick name was Will “The Thrill” Clark for his athleticism on offense and defense.

Clark started his career by hitting a home run off future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. An even more memorable swing of the bat was the grand slam he hit in the 1989 National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs. This was the only grand slam Greg Maddux gave up in his career.

Clark finished that five-game series with eight RBIs, six extra base hits and an ERA of .650 (13-for-20).

Will Clark’s likeness in the outfield at the San Francisco ballpark. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Prior to the Giants retiring Barry Bonds’ No. 25 in 2018 the team had a policy of retiring numbers of players who had been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Those who know baseball will understand why the Giants changed their policy.

Beyond Bonds, though, think of all the players whose numbers might be retired going forward. Not that everyone’s should be, but it’s intriguing to contemplate who might be next—well, other than Buster Posey, who I believe will be in Cooperstown one day, so that’s an automatic retirement.

As Clark said of the retiring of his number, “This is my hall of fame.”

It’s hard for me to imagine a greater honor in sports than to have one’s number retired. The fact Clark only spent eight of his 15 years in the Big Leagues in San Francisco also proves his impact on the team and fans.

Clark wrapped up his 15-minute speech by saying, “I am Will ‘The Thrill’ Clark. I am a part of San Francisco. And I am forever a Giant.”

Caldor Fire tour shows the loss and regrowth

Caldor Fire tour shows the loss and regrowth


To the left of the cabin near Echo Lake is where another one stood before the Caldor Fire. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

The hum of a chain saw was background noise as a group of hikers stood surrounded by trees in the Eldorado National Forest that were blackened by last summer’s Caldor Fire.

Across the way is Angora Ridge which burned in the 2007 Angora Fire. The hillside is green, giving hope that one day the ground where we were standing would be full of life again as well. But the reality is that ridge and the freshly charred land won’t see substantive trees again for a very long time.

Don Bailey with the Tahoe Rim Trail Association noted how there are still no large trees where the 1992 Cleveland Fire in El Dorado County burned 24,580 acres.

Maria Mircheva with the Sugar Pine Foundation talks about the resiliency of forests. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Even so, a bit of hope could be measured by the 1- to 2-inch pines poking their green needles out of the soil.

This nearly 4-mile round-trip excursion on July 19 was put on by the TRTA. About 30 people walked into the forest from the Echo Lake sno-park toward the lake. Volunteers with TRTA and Maria Mircheva with the Sugar Pine Foundation told the group what they were seeing, and what they could expect in the future.

Bailey pointed to a stump that used to be a 1,000-pound tree. “It was so darn hot it vaporized.” What was left, he said, could be put in a shopping bag.

Starting out from the parking it was a mix of healthy and burned forest. In places the ground was soft like walking in sand. But this wasn’t sand. It was a deep layer of ash.

Several pine trees are naturally sprouting in the burn area. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Forest litter can turn into oil if it has not been a severe burn.

Grasses and flowers are the first to sprout after a fire. The flora—lupine, blue-eyed Mary, currant, goose berry, Alpine daisy and others show how resilient Mother Nature is.

The TRTA will need to replace trail signs that burned in the fire. Trail work started months ago and is continuing.

About a quarter mile of new trail was already planned for this area. It will go from the parking lot to about where Johnson Pass Road and Highway 50 meet. This is to provide access to the Rim Trail with a nearby parking area.

The Sugar Pine Foundation has already planted trees in the Caldor Burn area and plans to do more when the U.S. Forest Service gives the greenlight. For now, the nonprofit is collecting seeds.

Flowers are some of the first flora to show life after a wildfire. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

We were walking at an elevation of about 7,400 feet, with Western white pine, lodgepole pine and red fir visible.

As we approached the cabins in the Echo Lake area owners who were along on the hike told stories of “heroic efforts” by other cabin owners, some with firefighting experience. One owner said how firefighters didn’t realize all these cabins existed. They didn’t have a map of the area with them. This woman said more than 30 cabins burned, mostly close to Highway 50 and none right on the lake.

While the forest will take time to cover, the animals that live in it are also adjusting. This same cabin owner said how more bears are in the area and fewer birds.

           

Tahoe’s lupine continue to dazzle because of lack of water

Tahoe’s lupine continue to dazzle because of lack of water

Lupine decorate the edge of the Upper Truckee River. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

One advantage of a drought is the proliferation of flowers that don’t like a lot of moisture. Such is the case with lupine.

The iconic purple flower that grows throughout the Lake Tahoe Basin (as well as many other places in the world) had quite the bloom this summer. While late June is usually the peak for this flora, they were still a delight even in the latter part of July.

A lone sprout in the “famous” Fallen Leaf Lake lupine field on July 19. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Tahoe has its own variety of lupine—Lupinus Argenteus. It’s hard to miss them. They can grow to nearly 5 feet tall. Lupinus plants are part of the pea family. There are about 200 species of this genus.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, “There are over 200 wild species of lupine, and most are North American natives. These usually have blue, white, or yellow flowers.”

Lupine grow along the shore of Lake Tahoe. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

More facts from the Farmer’s Almanac:

  • Lupines are nitrogen-fixing and can improve your soil.
  • Many species of lupine are poisonous to livestock.
  • Lupines are deer-resistant.
  • The lupine flowers are not edible, but the seeds are. The nut-like seeds were once a favorite food for traveling troops in ancient Europe.
  • Lupine seeds can be ground into flour. In Europe this flour is used in baking.

My favorite lupine patch near Fallen Leaf Lake was long past its prime when I was out there last week. But, still, there were so many lupine other places in the basin that I got my fill of this delightful purple specimen that to me says “summer in Tahoe.”

Lawns a legacy of wasteful water use

Lawns a legacy of wasteful water use

How anyone can justify having a lawn is beyond me. It’s a pleasure that is hurting the masses. Why? Because water is a precious resource.

Anyone living in California, the desert or another similar climate knows those grassy areas are a waste of water.

Lawns are helping to deplete water resources in California. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

“Lawns are estimated to use about 40 percent to 60 percent of landscape irrigation in California. Overall, landscape irrigation is estimated to account for about 50 percent of annual residential water consumption statewide,” according to the U.C. Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

When I lived in South Lake Tahoe I participated in the local water district’s turf buyback program. Out went the grass and in went plants native to the area that were fed water via a drip line.

No grass in my yard in Chico. Plants are all watered via a drip line.

I understand the attraction to grass. It’s pretty. It’s soft. It’s fun to play on.

It’s also selfish and wasteful to keep watering it. There are plenty of alternative landscaping solutions that looks great, use less water, and are more practical.

Let’s start with California (and other states) banning grass from all new residential and commercial construction. Then we can work on getting rid of existing front yards and back yards, and commercial strips.

Even better would be to do the right thing before government issues a mandate.

American Canyon in Napa County is being proactive by delivering recycled water to residents and using that same reusable water on vegetation throughout the city. Residents can fill up containers with non-potable water to use for landscaping or flushing toilets. The program has existed since the early 2000s.

The city’s philosophy is “the right water for the right use.”

In 2020, the city delivered 2,900 acre-feet of potable water and 800 acre-feet of recycled water to residential and commercial customers. (An acre-foot equals 325,851 gallons.) New multi-family residences come with two water lines. The purple pipes are non-potable water that goes into toilets.

In Todos Santos, Mexico, many homes have gray water pipes going from the inside to the outside for irrigation.

Solutions exist if we are willing to change our ways.

Lassen Peak provides blast of volcanic beauty

Lassen Peak provides blast of volcanic beauty

Mount Shasta is the highest peak visible from the top of Lassen Peak. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

It was a year ago July 13 that Lassen Volcanic National Park was forever changed. All because a 70-foot Douglas fir tree toppled onto a PG&E distribution line in the Feather River Canyon.

Of the 963,309 acres that were consumed in the 2021 Dixie Fire (which as of today is the second largest wildfire in California’s history), 73,240 acres were in this Northern California park. That equates to 69 percent of the park being ravaged.

Lassen Peak from the start of the trail. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Despite that horrendous reality, so much beauty still abounds in Lassen.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect, though, on this first Thursday in July. After all, the hike leader did her best to dissuade people from joining her. Her description: “It’s my LEAST favorite hike … hot, dry, dusty, barren, crowded … everything I avoid.” Her reason to go was to acclimate to higher elevations for an upcoming excursion in Europe. My reason for going was I had never been to the top of Lassen Peak.

It was so worth it.

Beauty is everywhere on this hike. The rocky trail necessitates a lot of looking down, but taking the time to pause brought more enjoyment to the hike. Not stopping would make it a grind. The trail is barren. But the views above shoelace level are breathtaking.

The final climb to say one has truly made it to the top of Lassen Peak. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Brokeoff Mountain is a constant visual. The sapphire blue of Lake Helen, while minuscule in comparison to Lake Tahoe, stands out in this stark, volcanic landscape. The lake is named after Helen Tanner Brodt, who in 1864 became the first white woman to hike to the top of Lassen.

Our group of seven from the Chico Oroville Outdoor Adventures clocked 4.79 miles. The low point was 8,451 feet, with the highest being 10,272 feet. Lassen Peak is actually 10,457 feet tall. Those last 185 feet require scrambling up the rocky cone. My height issues said no way.

After all, the views were not likely to get any better from where we and most others turned around.

At this elevation we could look across to snowcapped Mount Shasta that scratches the sky at 14,179 feet.

Helen Lake in the center is surrounded by volcanic splendor. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Looking in the other direction are more volcanoes—like Cinder Cone, Hat Mountain, Mount Harkness, Reading Peak, Bumpass Mountain, Mount Conard, and Diamond Peak. Even farther out is Lake Almanor.

One of the fascinating things about Lassen Park is that it contains all four types of volcanoes that exist in the world—shield, composite, cinder cone, and plug dome.

Lassen most recently erupted in 1914. This was 27,000 years after the previous eruption.

One sign pointed out, “While the area sleeps now, steam vents, boiling springs, and bubbling mudpots remain active—direct evidence that the volcanic center still smolders. No one can say when or where the next eruption will occur. We can only say that it will.”

Physical, emotional benefits of walking in the sand

Physical, emotional benefits of walking in the sand

Pepper leaves pawprints in the sand at Todos Santos. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Walking is usually listed as one of the best forms of exercise. Add sand to the equation and it’s even better for you.

I had forgotten what a good workout it is until I spent  two weeks in Todos Santos in June, with beach walks a nearly everyday occurrence. Thank goodness Rubi and Pepper need afternoon walks, otherwise it would have been easy to say it was too hot to move—at least that was the case the second week.

Muscles have to work harder when walking in sand compared to a hard surface like a concrete sidewalk or asphalt street. Quads, calves and glutes are getting a good workout. The soft sand is also good for achy joints. Sand can also help reduce injury because the pounding is not so intense.

Exertion is also dependent on whether you are walking closer to the water where sand is firmer or higher up where it’s deeper and softer. I like to do a bit of both.

Footprints in the sand along the Pacific Ocean in Todos Santos, Mexico. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Mentally, being on the beach has to be so much better than a street. No cars to worry about. It’s definitely a more serene setting when enveloped by nature and not concrete. And next to the ocean, as was the case when I was in Mexico, meant being able to inhale the sea air and to listen to the waves crashing.

Most of the time I had flip flops on; sometimes I was barefoot. No shoes meant more senses to be aware of. And sand is a great natural exfoliator.

Plus, there were the conversations with my good friend, Jill, as we solved our problems and those of the world’s on our walks. That’s what I will miss most about no longer walking on the beach.

Tahoe-Truckee promoting free transit, more trails

Tahoe-Truckee promoting free transit, more trails

An aerial view of the Upper Truckee Marsh on the South Shore shows the new alignment of the trail which should be finalized this year. (Image: California Tahoe Conservancy)

While Americans have a love affair with their vehicles, the powers that be in the greater Lake Tahoe area doing all they can to make car keys less of a necessity for locals and guests.

An increase in free transit throughout the region is being designed to be efficient and timely. And for those who prefer human power to get around, the bike/pedestrian trail system is expanding beyond the immediate needs of cleaning up the ravaged terrain created by the 2021 Caldor Fire.

“I think we all understand that transit has to be free and frequent. If you don’t have one of those things, you are not likely to be in consideration,” Carol Chaplin, executive director of the Tahoe Douglas Visitors Authority, said. “Transit success is dependent on dependability. Part of the formula for success is free, frequent and year-round, and then expand service to connect to other services.”

Free is the key

Chaplin’s agency is behind the South Tahoe Events Center, which is slated to open the first quarter of 2023. The operating permit mandates the Stateline facility provide microtransit on both sides of the state line. It will likely go from Round Hill on the Nevada side to Al Tahoe in California. The permit from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency says the bus service can be seasonal for the first five years, but must be year-round after that.

TDVA isn’t waiting for the center to open to launch the bus service. The fleet could be on the roads starting in late June. To begin with hours are expected to be weekdays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and weekends until 10 p.m. Expect seasonal changes. Four buses, two of which will be wheelchair accessible, will run at all times. Each bus seats nine to 14 passengers.

It’s not really about getting event attendees to the venue because many of them are expected to stay within walking distance. Instead, these smaller buses are designed to transport locals (and tourists) in a more reliable, efficient manner. Fewer vehicles on the road means less traffic, a reduction in emissions, and less fine sediment clouding the waters of Lake Tahoe.

“I know there are lot of us if we parked our cars at our offices and could take microtransit over to Ski Run for a meeting and get back to the office, we would,” Chaplin said.

While negotiations with Downtowner were ongoing as of press time, Chaplin expects the contract to cost $940,000 a year. This is without marketing dollars. A variety of funding sources are in place and still in the works.

Downtowner is the same company the North Shore uses for its service called TART Connect.

This service, which links with the larger TART bus system, started in June 2021. It, too, is free to ride. The 12 vehicles had 40,000 passengers in the first two months of service, with locals a large contingency.

As with all the bus companies in the Tahoe-Truckee area, the best way to know how to get from Point A to Point B is to go online or download the appropriate app, then use the “trip planner” to start your ride.

The North Shore also changes its hours of operation seasonally, with the spring schedule ending June 29, and summer going from June 30-Sept. 5.

“We are encouraging TART Connect as a way to connect to recreation—bring your bike and stuff for the beach,” said Sara Monson, executive director of the Truckee-North Tahoe Transportation Management Association.

North Shore transit officials are operating with the pandemic in the rearview mirror, which means free shuttles for Truckee Thursdays, as well as Fourth of July events returning.

TART runs from Incline Village on the east side to Tahoma on the west, and then connects to Truckee, as well as to Northstar and Palisades resorts. TART Connect is designed for shorter trips, and then connects to the main bus line.

Truckee will be adding a microtransit pilot program similar to TART Connect starting in late June and running until early September, as well as an on-demand point-to-point service within select areas of town.

The microtransit will allow for connections to the TART system so people can reach areas within the Tahoe basin.

The South Shore microtransit, which still needs a name, will connect to the larger bus service run by the Tahoe Transportation District.

TTD is focusing on finalizing the transit hub at Lake Tahoe Community College, where electric buses will be charged. This fast-charging infrastructure will service the electric buses that are on order. TTD buses remain free as well.

With federal transportation dollars, TTD is looking to expand parking areas mainly in the Spooner Lake area along Highway 28. This would be in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service. It would also involve relocating the boat inspection station.

What still needs to be worked out is how to link the North and South shore bus systems so riders can easily get around the lake.

Improving and increasing trails

The Caldor Fire that ripped through El Dorado County last summer derailed some of the Forest Service’s trail building plans because resources are being reallocated to the South Shore to clean up the scorched earth and make the trails safe. Some work was done last fall before winter set in, but more needs to be done.

“We have some funding for stabilization work on the trials; things like installing drainage features and rebuilding any section of trail that seems at risk of failure,” said Jacob Quinn, engineering technician with the USFS.

Trail failure includes infrastructure like bridges that were damaged, erosion issues, as well as precarious trees.

Caldor issues will be addressed with the help of Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association and TRPA. About 22 miles of trails sustained some level of damage. The human-caused blaze burned 9,885 acres in the Lake Tahoe Basin, while the entire fire consumed more than 220,000 acres.

All the emergency work is expected to be completed this year, with long-term restoration an ongoing endeavor that will require obtaining the dollars to do the work.

A priority for the USFS is working at Echo Summit where the Tahoe Rim Trail and Pacific Crest Trail overlap, then going to the heavily used Corral Trail, Armstrong Connector Trail and Saxon Creek Trail (aka Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride). Replacing the burned out bridge on Corral Trail will be one of the first projects.

“We have a pretty modern trail system in the basin. There is a lot of design and layout work in those trials to make them sustainable,” Quinn said. “And generally they are well maintained. That all contributes to why the trails are still there in really good shape.”

Completion of the basinwide trails environmental assessment is expected this summer. The document includes 25 miles of new trails, much of which is on the West Shore to fill in gaps in the network. More public comment will be solicited before it’s wrapped up.

The Perimeter Trail near Heavenly Mountain Resort will be a multi-year project. The phase that goes from the midstation of the gondola, northeast around East Peak Lake and connects to the Tahoe Rim Trail is expected to be completed this year. It’s about three miles.

Still needing approval, which could come this summer, is a trail from that same midstation, going south to High Meadows.

It’s called the Perimeter Trail because for eight or nine miles it will loop around Monument Peak. There will also be a new trail connection to Heavenly’s base lodge and Powerline.

The Caldor Fire means the maintenance and reconstruction of the Bayview Trail near Eagle Falls will be scaled back or delayed until next year. The Incline Lake property will include restoration of the creek and meadow this year.

Still on the South Shore, the California Tahoe Conservancy should wrap up all the trail work at Cove East, where the path was relocated as part of the Upper Truckee Marsh restoration project. Pads will also be installed at the end to create lookout areas for people. The work is expected to take place in September, with trail access off-limits for a short time.

The ribbon-cutting for the Dennis T. Machida Memorial Greenway is slated for June 16. The leader of the CTC died unexpectedly at age 58 in 2005. The greenway is a paved path through parts of South Lake Tahoe.

TTD as the lead on multiuse trail that connects the Nevada side will be working on planning the next eight miles of asphalt that goes from Sand Harbor to the junction of highways 50 and 28.

Here are some of the projects Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association plans to undertake this building season:

  • Kaspian Rim—A variation on the Stanford Rock Trail that will connect down toward the Kaspian Campground/Blackwood Canyon sno-park and make for a shorter loop option for those not wanting to go all the way to the top of Stanford Rock. In the future this will help connect single track south toward Homewood and beyond.
  • Lower Stinger Reroute—A Nevada OHV grant will help reroute the lower 1.5 miles of the Stinger Trail so it no longer finishes in a neighborhood. Instead it will end at a better developed trailhead off Sewer Plant Road. It will have an additional 300 vertical feet that incorporate lake views and features.
  • Lower Tyrolian Reroute—Continuing a reroute of the bottom half mile of Tyrolian that crosses back to the east side of Incline Creek and incorporates some more technical features instead of the flatter pedal among the homes.
  • Meeks Ridge Trail—Starting a new trail that will connect from Meeks Bay up to the Lost Lake Trail that will follow the ridge line to the north of Meeks Meadow. The old logging road on this route will be replaced with about four miles of single track and will make for a 10- to 12-mile loop when completed next year.
  • Road 73 Bypass—Construction will begin on a single-track option on the North Shore by Tahoe City to avoid Road 73 (Fiberboard Freeway) for those going from Beartrap Connector (No. 17E14) up to Whoop Dee Doo or the Tahoe Rim Trail.
  • Tunnel Creek Single Track—Breaking ground on a trail connecting the Incline Flume at Tunnel Creek Road down to the bottom of Tunnel Creek Road. This project is a partnership between Nevada State Parks, Great Basin Institute, Tahoe Fund and a Nevada Recreational Trails Program.

Source: TAMBA

Note: A version of this story first ran in Tahoe In Depth.

Observatory’s star party highlights features in the night sky

Observatory’s star party highlights features in the night sky

Looking up at the night sky it’s easy to wonder: What am I not seeing?

Plenty would be the short answer. A star party at the Robert Ferguson Observatory (RFO) proved that to be true.

Star parties educate novices on what’s in the night sky. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

RFO is home to the largest (40 inches in diameter) public telescope in California. In May we were looking at Arcturus, a giant red star 37 light-years away.

While RFO does research, the primary purpose is public outreach, according to a docent. A group of hyper-enthusiastic amateur astronomers regularly bring their personal telescopes to the parking lot at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park in Sonoma County, where RGO is located, to let the public see what they look at on a regular basis.

While the scenery, so to speak, is always changing since the Earth is constantly rotating, the experts knew to keep adjusting the focus to make sure those of us with less than rudimentary knowledge of astronomy were looking at the “right” object in the sky.

One telescope was focused on the Cigar Galaxy, which is about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major.

So much is out there—it’s all so fascinating and a bit mind-boggling.

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