Dave and Cathy's Family Blog

July 31, 2015

July 2015 – Family Updates

Filed under: 2015 Lake Tahoe,Lilah and Luke,Mom and Dad — dave9169 @ 9:32 pm

July Highlights:

We Return to Lake Tahoe

This year marked our seventh trip to Lake Tahoe with Lilah and Luke. As is usually the case we were blessed with some great weather and decent water temperatures — even Cathy made it out deep into the lake which is very unusual for her. When we visit the lake we always try to make a point of taking part in new activities. This year we chose water skiing and mountain biking on the Flume Trail.

Water Skiing
I was excited about going water-skiing. Back in college, I took water skiing as an elective and had a good time doing it with a friend on Castaic Lake. I had not water skied since then (24+ years ago) but I was eager to get in the water and give it a shot again. The kids, on the other hand, looked a little nervous, while Cat was game to give it a go even though she typically avoids water-related activities.

Friends of friends recommended contacting the Birkholm Water Skiiing school on the south side of Lake Tahoe. This turned out to be a good tip. The instructor was friendly and the prices were a lot more reasonable than the place I called on our side of the lake ($160 per hour versus $240 per hour). When we arrived at the harbor, we were welcomed by perfect conditions — plenty of sunshine and nice glassy water conditions. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do out there, but I decided to go first so that the kids could either laugh at my ineptitude or see how it’s done. If you’ve never water skied, two skis is the way to go when first starting off. I hadn’t been on a pair in years but once the instructor gave the signal he was starting the pull, I put my feet close together, got into a slight tuck, and the next thing you know I was up on the skis and skimming across the surface of the lake. It felt good. The kids and Cat gave me a thumbs up and Lilah did her best to capture the action with my camera. At first, I stayed directly behind the boat but as I became more comfortable I started going over the wakes and coming back across — that’s where the fun is and when you’re really good you approach the wake with a lot of speed and fly off the top. I didn’t do that, but I did stay up for a very long time (15 – 20 minutes). So long that my arms and hands started to hurt. That’s when I realized the instructor and I hadn’t really gone over the protocol of what to do when you’re ready to stop. After a while, I couldn’t take it anymore so I just let go of the rope and slowly came to a stop in the water. Without knowing it, I did what you’re supposed to do when you’ve had enough — let go of the rope.

Up next was Cathy. This was her first time doing this so it was only natural that she would face plant it on her first few attempts. That provided the kids with a little comical relief and a chance to relax a bit more. However, in Cat’s falls, we could tell that she was very close to getting up. Both the instructor and I told her she was doing fine and would eventually be up on the skis. She wasn’t so sure and was starting to tire out. She said she contemplated just calling it a day but decided to try one more time. That last ditch effort and focus was all it took. All of a sudden Cathy was up and skiing! She too lasted a long time on her final try. She didn’t go over any wakes, but she did manage to change positions and just get a feel for the water. And when she was all done, she said she was glad that she had stuck with it and accomplished something new.

The kids didn’t quite fare so well on the skis. Lilah was the closest to actually water skiing, managing to stay up for a few seconds on one of her first runs. However, she seemed to overthink things from that point forward which meant a lot more falls and eventually succumbing to fatigue. Luke was close to rising up from the water but he couldn’t quite muster the strength to get up. It also didn’t help that his wetsuit was a little bit too big for him, making him colder than he should have been in the water.

In any case, the day for the kids wasn’t totally lost because each of them had a chance to tube ride behind the boat. Lilah and Luke had a blast doing this. The last time Luke was on a tube (several years ago) he wanted the driver of the boat to go as slow as possible. This time, it was the reverse as he enjoyed the speed and even asked for our driver to kick up the speed so that he could fly over the wakes and enjoy the G forces of the the turns and spins.

One last note is that I also accomplished something new during this experience — I got up on one ski (something I had never been able to do in college). I found it a lot harder to get up on one ski. I fell a lot before I managed to get up, but that helped even things out a bit. I mean, I couldn’t be the only one in the boat not to face plant it in the water ;-).

Flume Trail
For years, I have heard of the Flume Trail in Lake Tahoe. It is a mountain biking trail that climbs more than 1000 feet in the first four miles and provides you with a nice panoramic view of the lake once you get to the top. My plan was to get on the trail early so that I could be back while the day was still young to do stuff with the kids. Initially, I had thought about bringing the kids with me. I figured if they got tired of climbing they could always walk the last mile or so to the top of the trail because after that the trail is mostly flat to downhill. I thought better of it though and decided I should scout it out first. However, I did convince Cathy to come with me which was also a big deal. During one of our first trips to Lake Tahoe, Cathy and I rented mountain bikes and after the experience she said that she was not into the feel of a mountain bike path. She didn’t like the way mountain bike paths were full of gravel, rock and debris, making for a ride that was full of slips and skids that made her feel uncomfortable and not in control.

Well, flash forward a couple of decades later to this version of Cathy and it’s a different story. She’s now taught spin classes as well as core and strength classes for years, which means she has a well developed core, strong legs for biking and a much better sense of balance (things I convinced her would come in handy when mountain biking). She agreed and we both set out to tackle the famous Flume trail.

In the first three miles of the Flume trail there are some good climbs but there are also some flat and downhill sections that help add variety to the ride, not to mention a chance to catch your breath. The last mile is the tough one — that is basically all up hill and it is also the steepest section of the ride. Cat did great though, she only had to walk the bike up in the last 1/4 mile or so which a lot of other people had to do too. It’s understandable. At more than 8,000 feet of elevation, there is a lot less air available here and a whole lot more huffing and puffing (I barely made it up myself even with all my triathlon conditioning).

After the climb, we took our time on the downhill section. We also snapped a few pictures in front of one of the lakes in the area. This was the chill, take in the scenery portion of the ride. Eventually, we made it to the single track section, a part of the trail that the guy who rented us our bikes said never got narrower than three feet wide. That comforted us because we knew that for about 4 miles the single track section traverses the side of the mountain which is at about 8,700 foot elevation mark. But that feeling did not last long. We were probably no more than a half mile into the side of the mountain traverse when we saw that the single track got a lot narrower than that — more like 1.5 feet wide. That freaked us out. We realized that we would really have to take our time on this portion of the trail because if we didn’t a nice sheer drop to our death waited for us on our left shoulder. And if that didn’t unnerve you enough, there was the occasional slipping of your tire on the dirt path or wobble when you’d accidentally ride over the rocks in the road. I rode a big part of that section with my left foot off the pedal and touching the ground for leverage and control (making me flash back to what Cat said she hated about mountain bike paths).

Interestingly enough, Cat was the one that was better able to handle the situation mentally so I let her lead the way down the path. There were sections where we had to get off our bikes and walk as that was the only safe option. And a couple of times we scooted over to the right to let more experienced mountain bikers coming at us from the opposite direction ride by us. There was a group of 20-years-olds who had started the day with us, but long after we finished the ride, they still hadn’t made it back to the bike shop to return their bikes. We thought for sure that the 14-mile ride would only take about 2.5 hours to complete. But with the stops and the slow pace along the mountains edge, it took around 3.5 – 4 hours to finish.We assume the 20-year-olds finished the ride too, but I have a feeling they also had a hard time traversing that narrow four mile stretch. Cat and I were proud of our accomplishments and felt good that we were able to make it through the trail a lot faster than people who were 20 years younger than us. That being said, both of us agreed that we don’t ever need to ride that trail again. We also breathed a sigh of relief that we hadn’t taken the kids with us on this excursion.

That’s all for now. More next month.



  1. WOW!!! Amazing pictures, especially of the scary bike trail. You are all amazing athletes.

    Comment by carol d — August 10, 2015 @ 1:13 am

  2. thanks carol. we were very happy to finish that ride ;-).

    Comment by dave9169 — August 10, 2015 @ 1:59 am

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