Wild & Scenic Film Festival – South Lake Tahoe

One of the coolest things I get to do for work every year is putting on the Wild & Scenic Film Festival – South Lake Tahoe. WSFF combines award winning environmental and adventure films with the energy of local activism. Each year we choose powerful environmental and adventure films so that attendees are inspired to take further action regarding issues that impact our environment, ourselves and our world.

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The Film Festival is the biggest fundraiser for my program, the Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership. SNAP places twenty-eight AmeriCorps members at different conservation agencies and organizations throughout the Sierra Nevada to conduct watershed restoration and monitoring, watershed education, and volunteer recruitment and support. Members serve for 11 months with different conservation organizations and agencies across the Sierra to complete watershed restoration and monitoring, watershed education, and volunteer recruitment and support.

All girl restoration

Since 2007, SNAP Members have

  • Restored more than 13,000 impaired watershed acres
  • Educated more than 155,000 individuals on environmental issues in the Sierra
  • Monitored more than 1,000 sites
  • Recruited more than 29,000 volunteers
  • Contributed more than 425,000 service hours!

Obviously, I think SNAP is an awesome program! In addition to supporting SNAP, the Film Festival is a super fun event. We have a silent auction with prizes like whitewater rafting trips, wine tasting, hotel stays, etc., an activism area where guests can learn about local environmental issues, a backstage VIP area, beer and wine, and a filmmaker Q&A.

Most importantly, the films we show are amazing. Our goal for WSFF is “adventure with a message”. We show cool people doing awesome things in beautiful locations, but the underlying message is about the importance of protecting the places we play and beyond.

Martins-Boat

This year, our first feature film is Martin’s Boat by renowned filmmaker Pete McBride.

“Preeminent conservationist David Brower called him his conscience: in the 1950’s when the Bureau of Reclamation proposed two dams in the Grand Canyon—one at Marble Canyon and the other at Bridge Canyon—the late Martin Litton made sure the Sierra Club didn’t acquiesce. Martin believed the best way for people to understand how important it was to preserve the Grand Canyon was to have them experience this secret world from the river, but not in just any boat. Martin pioneered whitewater dories on the Colorado River in the 1960’s and started a proud tradition of naming the boats after wild places that had been lost or compromised by the hand of man. Now, some 50 years later, America’s open-air cathedral faces continued threats from development and mining and it’s up to all of us to ensure the crown jewel of our National Park system is protected now and for future generations. Martin’s Boat is a film that honors the legacy of Martin Litton and follows the newest boat in the Grand Canyon Dories fleet, the Marble Canyon, on its maiden voyage down the legendary Colorado River through the grandest canyon on Earth.”

Mile-for-Mile2

Our other feature film is Mile for Mile, made by Patagonia and filmmaker James Q. Martin.

“Ultrarunners Krissy Moehl, Jeff Browning and Luke Nelson ran 106 miles through the newly opened Patagonia Park in Chile, to celebrate and highlight Conservacion Patagonica’s efforts to rewild and protect this vast landscape. Patagonia Park, in the Aysén Region of Chile is now open to the public. The park sweeps from the northern ice cap, down to the Baker River and out to the arid borderlands of Argentina. The park’s glaciated peaks, grasslands, beech forests, lakes, rivers and wetlands still boast all of their original species—and the rivers still run free. Patagonia, Inc. has been involved in this project from day one—helping with the first land purchases, sending volunteers down to rip up hundreds of miles of fencing and restore open grasslands, and fighting mega-dam projects on the nearby Baker and Pascua Rivers.”

Noatak

In addition to these two amazing features, we’ll be showing 10 other short films ranging in length from 1 – 12 minutes focusing on climbing, paddling, skiing, hiking, and more, from Yosemite to the Grand Canyon to Antarctica.

We’ll be hosting the 11th Annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival – South Lake Tahoe this Thursday, March 31st in the MontBleu Resort Casino Spa Showroom. If you are in the area, I highly encourage you to attend this event! You can buy tickets ahead of time online here or in person at the Patagonia store in Heavenly Village. We’ll be selling tickets at the door, but there’s a discount if you buy ahead of time. Doors open at 6 pm; films start at 7 pm. Tickets are only $12 for Sierra Nevada Alliance Members.

Thanks for reading my schpiel about my favorite fundraiser for my favorite organization!

 

My Favorite Restaurants in South Lake Tahoe

I am lucky enough to live in a beautiful tourist destination that I hope everyone has a chance to visit some day. And when you do, I hope you have an amazing time exploring the outdoor highlights I’ve featured on this blog. After a long day hiking/biking/skiing etc., there’s nothing better than a delicious meal (and a beer) to finish out the day.

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When friends and family visit, these are the places I insist we go to. Hopefully this list will highlight some places you wouldn’t find via Yelp or by wandering the normal tourist locations.

Best Apres Ski/Ride:

The Himmel Haus: Located directly across from the parking lot of Heavenly’s California Base, this place can get pretty busy, but it’s worth the wait. This place is a mecca for German beer lovers, and they often have beers on tap that you can’t get anywhere else in the area. While you can order a smaller beer, I’d recommend ordering a liter to get the full German beer stein experience. My favorite thing to order is the Warsteiner Pilsner and the pretzel (mustard cheese is to die for), kase-spatzle (fancy macaroni and cheese) or anything that comes with a side of mashed potatoes. During the week, they have a whole host of activities – I’m often at trivia on Wednesdays, and the on the weekends they frequently have live bands and theme parties (like Wigs and Onsies or Bierfest).

 

My roommate Kelly enjoys the three liter boot we earned with a first place trivia finish.
My roommate Kelly enjoys the three liter boot we earned with a first place trivia finish.

To Watch the Game/For Pizza:

MacDuff’s Public HouseMacDuff’s has, hands down, the best pizza in Tahoe. They also have a large beer menu, several big screen tvs, delicious fish and chips, and the spiciest wing sauce I’ve ever tried. It’s located just off the main road on Fremont Avenue, and has outdoor seating in the summer. After dinner, head to the bowling alley across the street for some cheap indoor fun.

Best Strip Mall Experience:

Artemis Mediterranean GrillOne thing you should know about South Lake Tahoe is that we have a lot of strip malls. This might not be something you’d notice if you stuck to the tourist/casino side of town. If you venture to where the locals hang out, you’ll definitely notice this. While strip mall after strip mall is not exactly the most aesthetically appealing form of city planning, there are some real gems to be found if you do some exploring. One of these gems: Artemis Mediterranean Grill for some seriously delicious Greek food. When my office was located near by, at least once a week someone went to pick up lunch there, and everyone in the office requested the same thing: Artemis Fries. They are thick cut fries topped with their secret seasoning blend and dipped in their seasoning sauce. I usually order the Super Veggie Pita. (Note: they now have another fancy marina location that’s just as delicious), but you’ll miss out on some of the local charm by avoiding the strip mall).

Best Dive Bar:

Turn 3: Located in the same strip mall as Artemis, calling Turn 3 one of my favorite places to eat is a stretch. It is my favorite dive bar, and it does have free peanuts and popcorn, so I say it counts. Turn 3 has a great 2 for 1 happy hour,  good prices the rest of the time, free bingo (with prizes!) on Tuesdays, microbrews and cheap lagers, pool tables, and you can throw your peanut shells right on the floor. What more do you need?

 

Best Restaurants in South Lake Tahoe // tahoefabulous.com
Pool and peanuts at Turn 3.

Best Overall Menu/Brunch:

Getaway Cafe: This is a place where you could close your eyes, open the menu, point randomly and know that your meal is going to be delicious. Despite this, I almost always order the parmesan crusted grilled cheese sandwich. Come one, there’s two cheeses inside AND one on the outside? Can’t beat that. I even order it at breakfast! I have ordered a few other things, and I always make my dining companions share their food, and can vouch for the quality of nearly everything on the menu. Getaway Cafe is located about 6 miles outside of South Lake Tahoe in the adorable town of Meyers, a gateway to great back country adventure and on your way in or out via Sacramento.

Best Coffee:

Free Bird: As a Pacific Northwest native, I love good coffee, and Free Bird delivers. It’s a tiny, tiny space with standing room for maaaaybe three people (so all coffee is to go). The staff is friendly, the store supports tons of great local causes, and they totally embrace the hipster local organic free range fair trade bird aesthetic (you can buy “put a bird on it” stickers!). They also have amazing chai.

Five Best Places to Watch the Sunset in Lake Tahoe

Who doesn’t love a great sunset over the water? Luckily, there are quite a few places to catch the sunset in the Lake Tahoe area. Here are a few of my favorites.

  1. Lakeview Commons, South Lake Tahoe, California

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Cotton candy clouds at Live at Lakeview

Located at the corner of Highway 50 and Lakeview Avenue in South Lake Tahoe, this easy-to-access spot is usually bustling. During the summer, you can stake out a bbq, rent a paddle board or visit the high-class concession stand for gourmet hot dogs or local ice cream. You can also enjoy live music Thursday nights at Live at Lakeview. If crowds aren’t your thing, visit Lakeview Commons in the winter, when it is significantly less busy.

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  1. Tahoe Rim Trail from the Mount Rose Highway, Incline Village, Nevada

Looking toward the northwest shore of Lake Tahoe

A quick, 1.5 mile flat hike on the Tahoe Rim Trail from the Mount Rose Highway trailhead will bring you to a great spot to camp out and watch the sunset. There are plenty of flat rocks to post up on and get comfortable while you watch the sunset over the West Shore mountains of Lake Tahoe. I’d recommend bringing in a couple of beers and some snacks.

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  1. Trout Creek Meadow/Lily Beach, South Lake Tahoe, California

Smoke particles in the air make for astounding sunsets.

If you’re looking for an easy to access, but not crowded beach in South Lake Tahoe, I have to recommend Trout Creek Meadow/Lily Beach. You can access this area from the west end of San Francisco Avenue in the Al Tahoe neighborhood or from the bike path behind Meek’s Lumber. The meadow is a great place for bird and wildlife watching, so be on the lookout for coyotes and waterfowl of all kinds. Dogs must be on leash (and are banned during certain key bird breeding seasons) and no alcohol!

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  1. Hidden Beach, Incline Village, Nevada

Sunset over the East Shore boulders is a Tahoe must-see.

I’ve talked about my love for hidden beach in a previous post. Check it out here!

  1. The Top of Mount Tallac, South Lake Tahoe, California

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Cascade Lake and Lake Tahoe from a different angle.

For our more adventurous sunset seekers, you could take a late afternoon hike up Mount Tallac, watch the sunset over Lake Tahoe and Desolation Wilderness, and then hike down under a full moon. This is a strenuous 9.5 out and back hike, with over 3,500 feet of elevation gain that starts at 6,500 feet. The views are definitely worth it!! Be prepared for the hike, especially if you plan to come down at night. You’ll need headlamps (plus extra batteries) and confidence in your ability to follow the trail in the dark.

Want even more great places to watch the sunset in Lake Tahoe? Click here for more of my suggestions.

Flashback Friday: Beginning Climbing at LTCC

Back in March I took Beginning Climbing as a PE Class at Lake Tahoe Community College. The class consisted of two Wednesday lectures where we learned about climbing history, technique, safety, etc., and two Fridays & Saturdays out climbing in the field.

I’d done a little climbing (mostly indoor at the gym) in college, and was interested in trying it again, but nervous to get started. The Beginning Climbing class at LTCC was the perfect introduction!

The first two days, we climbed at 90 Foot Wall just outside of South Lake Tahoe. We practiced rappelling, learned to belay and put the climbing techniques we discussed in class into action.

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Nice view!

Beginning Climbing // tahoefabulous.com

Tiny green instructor at the top of 90 Foot Wall for scale.

For our second Friday of climbing, we headed to tackle some more difficult climbs at the Cosumnes River Gorge near Placerville. We did another, much more nerve wracking rappel with all our gear and then beat up our hands with our first crack climbs and squeezed into some interesting chimneys.

Beginning Climbing // tahoefabulous.com

Setting up the scary rappel while our awesome instructor Damien checks my set up.

Beginning Climbing // tahoefabulous.com

Cosumnes River Gorge. Can you spot the slackliner?

Beginning Climbing // tahoefabulous.com

Two of my classmates try to figure out a weird section.

For our last day of class, we headed back to the South Lake Tahoe area and went to Pie Shop. This day definitely had the hardest routes, including a multi pitch that our instructor set up. While he was doing that, we watched the instructional assistants do a trad climbing demonstration on a 5.10 crack that I eventually climbed when they had the top rope set up. That route was by far one of the hardest things I’ve ever done!

Beginning Climbing // tahoefabulous.com

A classmate on the difficult crack.

Beginning Climbing // tahoefabulous.com

A view of the multi-pitch climb.

Beginning Climbing // tahoefabulous.com

Great hand and foot holds on this section of the multi-pitch.

Beginning Climbing // tahoefabulous.com

LTCC Beginning Climbing class.

The other really cool thing about our last day of class was that we were way up high and had a great view of the “Golden Celebration” parade that went from Meyers to Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort to celebrate the three women from South Lake Tahoe who won medals at this year’s Olympics.