Just Chute Me – Hiking at Fallen Leaf Lake

by The Aviator

10 15, 2013 | Posted in Recreation | 0 comments

The Chute is a noun specific to Stanford Sierra Conference Center. When staffers come into the staff lounge with Camelbaks and haggard expressions, declaring: “I just did the Chute,” the response is one of respect and approval. Beginning in spring, a perennial waterfall slides down the Chute between Cathedral and Mount Tallac. When the waterfall dries, it leaves a steep rocky path. Hiking the Chute reminds you that even water—fluid and malleable—has the power to erode and transform landscapes.

View of the Chute from Fallen Leaf Lake

View of the Chute from Fallen Leaf Lake

Hiking the Chute is slightly dangerous. The scree can shift under your weight and there is a fair amount of free climbing. Through one section you have to pull yourself up using crevices your hands can feel, but your eyes can’t see. As you lift yourself higher with your arms, your feet push off against solid, smooth stone.
Gracie, Fountain Manager, Climbing the Chute

Gracie, Fountain Manager, Climbing the Chute

Fortunately, my first time up the Chute I went with fall conference staffer Rebecca Duffy (she named this blog post). Rebecca is working her fifth season at Stanford Sierra and has spent many hour traversing the Fallen Leaf Lake area trails. Rebecca loves trail running and describes it as power walking the most direct route up a mountain, then running down it. Rebecca introduced her friend, Kali Kirkendall, to trail running in Montana, then Kali wrote a fun blog post about Rebecca's trail running prowess and fancy free ways in Trail Runner Magazine . When the view is just right and she has free time, Rebecca climbs to her perch halfway up the Chute and writes overlooking Fallen Leaf Lake.
Rebecca's view from her perch

Rebecca's view from her perch

Hiking the Chute feels like climbing into an Escher painting—the angles are so steep and odd.
Two of Rebecca's young trainees climbing the Chute

Two of Rebecca's young trainees climbing the Chute

At the top of the Chute the world falls open below you. Ahead is Fallen Leaf Lake, Lake Tahoe  and the peaks of the Sierra Nevada. To your back are Cathedral peak and Mount Tallac. The beauty of Fallen Leaf Lake alters with the time of day, so every photo is different, yet still breathtaking. Mornings over the lake are gradients of light blues, purples and faint pinks—soft and subdued. On a sunny day, the mountains across from Lake Tahoe are ochre and sap green while the lake is a vibrant and full blue. You can see the wind flicker in wisps of white across the lake—water giving the air shape. I used an app, Strava Run, to track the elevation I gained while climbing the Chute. There is no specific path to the top, so every climb is new with only one constant goal—move up.  My route had a 2,107 foot elevation gain in under a mile.
Harrison Kass climbing the Chute

Harrison Kass climbing the Chute

Michael Kleinman, Jake Wixon-Ganack, Emily Lohmeyer and Harrison Kass joined me for my second Chute ascent. Morgan Marshall, head of housekeeping (HOHO), holds the record for the fastest climb up the Chute with a time of thirty-two minutes. Michael almost beat him that day with a thirty-five minute ascent. Jake and Emily, both athletic and avid hikers moved quickly and were close behind. The Chute feels like a rite of passage here at Stanford Sierra Conference Center. For those who make the climb it becomes an addiction because of its views, intensity and strategy.

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Me climbing the Chute

Me climbing the Chute

It only took one climb for me to experience the magic of the Chute. Already I am planning a day when I can beat my own personal time: 1 hour and 23 minutes. With less than a month left of the fall conference season, my days at Fallen Leaf lake are numbered. But you can bet on the next bright day, when I have a few hours to spare, I will head out on the trail towards Cathedral Peak and start to climb.

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A Fall Season of Firsts

by The Aviator

09 27, 2013 | Posted in Employment, Recreation | 0 comments

The view from the boat dock at 6:30am.

The view from the boat dock at 6:30am.

  I have never considered myself a morning person, and yet one of the great mysteries of Fallen Leaf Lake is its ability to transform you. I now wake with the first light through the window - no alarm necessary.   The morning of September 12th was still and cool—the light over the Sierra Nevada a deep indigo pink. At 6:30 I was out on the water for my first boat dock shift, bundled up and ready to watch the sun rise. The first group to arrive at Stanford Sierra Camp for our fall season was sponsored by Patagonia. I found the group to be altogether an adventurous bunch; so I was not surprised to see a few of them heading to the lake with the first light. The water was so still it was a perfect map of the sky and the mountains.
Majestic Mt Tallac reflected in Fallen Leaf Lake

Majestic Mt Tallac reflected in Fallen Leaf Lake

Kayaking through water that glassy is dizzying—it is difficult to distinguish up from down when your paddle skims the ridge of Cathedral Peak as it parts through the water. Although I envied their early morning journeys, I was perfectly content to sit on the dock and observe.
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Water Like Glass

I heard one of the guests say that it was her first time in a kayak. In the little time I’ve spent here, I’ve decided that this haven on Fallen Leaf Lake is a place for firsts. Among my fellow fall staff members I have seen New Englanders who never hiked before head out in the early morning hours to new destinations, often several miles away.   I never mountain biked before, and after my early morning boat dock shift a coworker lent me his bike. Together, we rode to Lily Lake, not far from camp, but with the altitude your lungs and esophagus burn as you exert yourself in the thin air. As I pedaled up the hill, the air still cool and tender, I felt the temperature of my chest rise as I struggled to find enough oxygen. Jake, a competitive mountain biker, was patient with me, and only poked a little fun.
Jake can ride his bike on trails some of us would have trouble hiking!

Jake can ride his bike on trails some of us would have trouble hiking!

  Not only is this a place for firsts, it is also a place where people welcome opportunities to teach. Already, Jonathan, who works on camp maintenance, is helping me build a desk for my cabin. The staff here have an infinite amount of patience and a genuine, palpable desire to help us improve and grow.  
Jonathan

Jonathan : )

  Here at Fallen Leaf, I don't go a day without learning something new or seeking out more information. Morgan, head of housekeeping, is an expert when it comes to astronomy. He took a group of us for an astro-cruise on one of the clearest nights I have ever seen.  
Morgan with Shirley and Carrie

Morgan with Shirley and Carrie

As we floated out on the pontoon boat, I swear I could see the curve of the earth. I felt the fishbowl effect of the world. The Big Dipper was lying on its back on Cathedral Mountain. Morgan took out his laser pointer and showed us everything from Polaris to the Summer Triangle, with a regular parade of shooting stars as the backdrop. Morgan's passion for astronomy is not only tangible—he shares his excitement with every new staffer who wants to learn more about astronomy.  
Sunset - before we head out on our stargazing cruise

Sunset - before we head out on our stargazing cruise

I am excited for this season of firsts—for sunrises over the lake, the nightly mountain chill that rides into camp as the sun sets, and morning hikes when the air is still so cold and fresh it burns a little as you breathe.  

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Mid-morning Snack

by stanfordsierra

08 21, 2013 | Posted in Dining, Meeting | 0 comments

I was wondering what to write about this week, when one of my favorite topics came to mind - food! I'm one of those people who needs (don't know if it's a psychological or a physiological need) to eat every couple of hours. My coworkers love to give me a hard time as they see me traipse from my office across the lodge to the kitchen to get my mid-morning snack. Sometimes, if there is a group onsite, I "check on" the coffee break to make sure everything is going smoothly.

Hmmm...someone might need to check on this coffee break might need a check in

Hmmm...someone might need to check on this coffee break

Weather permitting, coffee breaks are held outside. During a meeting or after sitting in front of a computer for a couple of hours, who doesn't need some fresh air? And you can't beat our view!
Our view of Fallen Leaf Lake

Our view of Fallen Leaf Lake

Of course when I "check on" on the coffee break a quality check of the baked goods is usually necessary.
Freshly baked goods at coffee break

Freshly baked goods at a coffee break

For those who prefer a healthier option, we always have a fruit basket out at coffee breaks.
Fresh fruit bowl

Fresh fruit bowl

If there isn't a coffee break happening when my hunger strikes, I go straight to the source and visit Steve in the bakery. It's always a pleasure to see Steve and find out how his two girls are doing, and of course, get some yummy baked goods!
Steve loves to share his delicious baked treats

Steve loves to share his delicious baked treats

And, you can't have baked goods without a cup of coffee (at least I can't). We serve locally roasted and delicious Alpen Sierra coffee. So schedule your next meeting at our Lake Tahoe conference center and join me for a mid-morning coffee break on Fallen Leaf Lake!  

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Juniper A is the Party Cabin!

by stanfordsierra

08 07, 2013 | Posted in Event planning, Lodging | 0 comments

If groups are planning after hours socializing, we suggest  Juniper A for the designated party cabin. Juniper A is our largest cabin with four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a large living room.

The Juniper A living room

The Juniper A living room

If you maximize all beds, 11 can sleep comfortably in the cabin. Two of the Juniper A bedrooms each have a queen bed, two bedrooms have two twin beds and there are three twin beds in the living room.
One of two bedrooms with a queen bed

One of two bedrooms with a queen bed

One of two bedrooms with two twin beds

One of two bedrooms with two twin beds

Juniper A is one of the furthest cabins from the main lodge, but meandering at a comfortable pace, it's about a two-minute walk (I've timed it!). The cabin is up the hill, so has a nice view of Fallen Leaf Lake over the trees .
Juniper cabins with Fallen Leaf Lake in the background

Juniper cabins with Fallen Leaf Lake in the background

Our onsite store, the Fountain, sells an excellent assortment of domestic and imported beers, wines from Stanford-affiliated wineries and sodas that we can stock in your party cabin.
J. Rowe and Gracie, our dynamic Fountain duo are read to stock your party cabin!

J. Rowe and Gracie, our dynamic Fountain duo are read to stock your party cabin!

Juniper A is in a building (cluster) along with Juniper B, C and D. The other three Juniper cabins each have two bedrooms and a living room, so each cabin can sleep five comfortably.
The Juniper C living room/ third bedroom

The Juniper C living room/ third bedroom

The Juniper building can hold 26 of your high-energy guests! Adjacent cabins are in the Hills and Lakes groupings. If you have 100 or more in your group,  you can house your party guests on the entrance side of the lodge, then guests who prefer an earlier bedtime can stay in the Point cabins on the far side of the lodge. Take a look at our property layout for locations of all cabins. And check our availability calendar to schedule your next event at our comfortable center on beautiful Fallen Leaf Lake!

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Now Hiring for the Fall 2013 Conference Season

by stanfordsierra

07 17, 2013 | Posted in Employment | 0 comments

Applications are available online for our fall 2013 conference season. The season is two months beginning in early September and ending in early November.

Fall at Fallen Leaf Lake

Fall at Fallen Leaf Lake

During our fall conference season we provide lodging, meals, meeting space and recreation for visiting groups. We hire "All-purpose staff" to work the different aspects of each group's visit. As an all-purpose staff member, a workday might start with a  breakfast shift in the dining room, then cleaning guest rooms and cabins during housekeeping and then working a boat dock shift in the afternoon.
Working a boat dock shift

Working a boat dock shift

All-purpose staff live onsite in shared cabins.
A couple of the staff cabins

A couple of the staff cabins

The staff work hard as a team when on shift and have fun together during free time. Staff members can take out kayaks and stand up paddle boards from the boat dock and hike the trails from right out the door of their cabin.  
A couple of our spring 2013 staff returning from a hike

A couple of our spring 2013 staff returning from a hike

We hire about 40 all-purpose staff for the conference season and usually have a mix of return and new employees. Visit our website to learn more about what we do at our Lake Tahoe conference center. And, if you are hard-working and love the outdoors, fill out an application!

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Who Knew Trail Maintenance Could be Fun?

by stanfordsierra

07 08, 2013 | Posted in Event planning, Meeting, Recreation | 0 comments

Last summer, based on a guest's suggestion, we partnered with the US Forest Service and started a trail maintenance program.  Bruce Campodonico, our head of maintenance and an avid hiker, coordinated the details with the USFS, attended a two-day trail building class sponsored by the Tahoe Rim Trail Association , then we were ready to get to work!

Bruce Campdonico, our camera-shy head of trail maintenance

Bruce Campdonico, our camera-shy head of trail maintenance

  Each week about five guests volunteered to join our staff members for a three-hour work shift on the popular and nearby Cathedral Trail.
The Cathedral Trailhead

The Cathedral trail head

Volunteers are required to wear long sleeves, pants and a hard hat to stay safe on the trail. The focus of the work last year and so far this year is clearing the brush along the trail.
Cutting away the encroaching shrubs

Cutting away the encroaching shrubs

With weekly shifts in the summer, the hike to the work spot is longer each time. I joined a work crew last week.
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Beautiful view of Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe from the Cathedral trail

There were nine of us on my work crew, once we reached a spot on the trail where it was tough to get through the encroaching shrubs, we got our last-minute instructions from Bruce and got to work! We spread out so everyone had space to work safely. You have to trim back the bushes on the uphill side of the trail, then throw your cuttings in hard-to-see areas so hikers don't see a trail of dead branches as they are hiking through the area. Bruce said through mid summer work will focus on trimming back the shrubs to clear the narrow spots in the trail. Then the crews will get into rock and tread work. The tread is where the existing trail is. Over the years, some sections of trail have been pushed downhill, so the goal is to cut back the encroaching bushes, then the Forest Service will come in and regrade the trail to prevent erosion. I had just met my fellow crew members and the hike and the work offered a nice opportunity to chat and get to know each other better.
Working together on the trail

Working together on the trail

The trail crew

The trail crew

For your next offsite, if are looking for a team-building activity that gets you outside in a beautiful setting, provides a service to the community and builds camaraderie, visit our Lake Tahoe conference center and join us for trail maintenance!

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Kayaking Fallen Leaf Lake

by stanfordsierra

07 01, 2013 | Posted in Recreation | 0 comments

During your stay at our California conference center, plan to take out a kayak from our boat dock to enjoy the beauty of Fallen Leaf Lake. Check the weather forecast before your departure to pack accordingly. For your kayak excursion we recommend comfortable clothing that gives you freedom of movement for your arms and water-resistant bottoms as you may get wet. Depending on temps, you can kayak barefoot or with water shoes or a pair of sneakers you don't mind getting wet.

kayak

A hat, water-resistant outer layers and athletic shoes make a good paddling outfit!

Bring sunscreen if clear weather is in the forecast, at altitude and with the reflection off the water, the sun is more intense. At the boat dock, our staff will set you up with a life jacket, paddle and boat, and if you need them, a few paddling tips.
Boat dock staff ensure guests have a safe and fun experience on the water

A boat dock staff member giving some kayaking tips

Often, the best time to kayak is early morning when the lake is calm. Each group sets the schedule for boat dock hours, so if you're attending an event, be sure to reach out to your coordinator and ask for morning boat dock hours. Temperatures are cooler in the morning, so plan to dress warmer.
Calm morning on Fallen Leaf Lake

Calm morning on Fallen Leaf Lake

Most groups schedule free time in the afternoon, which can be an excellent paddling time with sunshine and warmer temps.
An afternoon paddle on Fallen Leaf Lake

An afternoon paddle on Fallen Leaf Lake

For some kayaking tips and an overview of paddling on Fallen Leaf Lake, watch our video. Kayaking Fallen Leaf Lake If you have never kayaked before, plan to try it on your visit to our California conference center. Kayaking is an easy sport to pick up and the kayaks are very stable. See you on the water!

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Money Saving Tips for Your Next Corporate Retreat

by stanfordsierra

06 24, 2013 | Posted in Event planning, Meeting, Special Events | 0 comments

If you are planning a corporate retreat for fall and would like to keep costs down, we have a few suggestions: Where and when: For resort destinations including Lake Tahoe, pricing is better during our shoulder seasons, spring and fall, and midweek, particularly early in the week. At Stanford Sierra Conference Center our weekends and Wednesday to Thursday nights tend to book first, leaving Sunday through Tuesday nights available, so we're more likely to negotiate rates for these days. You can check our availability online. Activities: Skip the facilitated group activities and get meeting participants outside to relax and clear their minds. Guided hikes are part of our complete conference package and allow attendees to exercise and spend quality time together.

Hiking along Fallen Leaf Lake

Hiking along Fallen Leaf Lake

Non motorized boats are also included in our package. Guests can check out stand up paddle boards, kayaks, peddle boats and sailboats from our boat dock.
Sailing and paddling from the Stanford Sierra boat dock

Sailing and paddling from the Stanford Sierra boat dock

Food & Beverage: Also save money by using pitchers of water versus bottled water at coffee breaks. Located at 6,250', we recommend guests drink plenty of water to acclimate. Coffee breaks are included in our package and are normally held outside on the deck overlooking Fallen Leaf Lake.
Coffee break on the deck

Coffee break on the deck

You can also promote attendee hydration and your event by purchasing reusable water bottles as an event gift. We partner with Camelbak, so can provide logo-ed bottles with lead time.  
A reusable Camelbak water bottle is a good option for an attendee gift

A reusable Camelbak water bottle is a good option for an attendee gift

Entertainment: We have a couple signature events,  a sing-a-long on the beach with s'mores or  disco bingo! If you include disco bingo on your schedule, be sure to let attendees know to pack their grooviest outfit.
Stanford Sierra staff leading disco bingo

Stanford Sierra staff leading disco bingo

Call me at 530-542-5600 or email nancylh@stanford.edu for a full description of disco bingo and a custom quote for your next corporate retreat!  

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Comments and Pics from the Alumni Creative Camp

by stanfordsierra

05 06, 2013 | Posted in Special Events | 0 comments

Our third Alumni Creative Camp wrapped up last Sunday. Over the three days of the program, presenters and attendees relaxed, learned, laughed and created together. I participated in many of the weekend activities and towards the end of the program I sat down with a few guests to get their impressions. A wide mix of alumni and alumni affiliates attended this year's creative camp. Teresa Torres, '99 and Adam Wooley, '01 received the Camp emails for the past three years and finally found the time to attend this year. Teresa visits Tahoe often, but this was her first time at Fallen Leaf Lake and she was nicely surprised by Camp's intimate setting and she really enjoyed walking around the area. Teresa and Adam are both photographers and got the most out of sitting down for a one-on-one meeting with Joel Simon after dinner one evening.

Teresa and Adam enjoying the sun on the dining room deck

Kendra Arimoto, '05 and Alexis Boozer, '04 received the program email and both were intrigued. As an artist working in the tech industry Kendra was interested in the d.school component while the young alum pricing caught Alexis' eye and she realized she was in that group, was working and could afford the program. During the weekend, Kendra noticed how good she felt spending time outdoors in the beautiful, natural setting at Fallen Leaf Lake and realized she needs to take the time to exercise and get outside on a regular basis. With the open atmosphere among attendees, Alexis made some great connections and listening to others helped her come to terms with her struggle between her artistic side trying to make it as an actor in Hollywood and the Stanford side of her brain telling her to head in another direction.

Alexis and Kendra with their Stanford Camp tote bags

Sisters, Wendy Richards, '78, MBA '82, and Leslie Meagley, brought their mother Britta Franz, '50 to the Creative Camp as a surprise 85th birthday present. Living in different states, the three have a hard time getting together. Wendy and Leslie knew their mother was intrigued with the d.school after Britta toured the school in January, so when Wendy received the Creative Camp program she knew it was the perfect mix of what her mother would enjoy.

Wendy, Britta and Leslie

Stanford's Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (better known as the d.school) played a big part in the weekend events. Saturday evening the group took on a fun team-building activity, the marshmallow challenge. You should try the marshmallow challenge with your group and keep in mind kindergarten students outperform business school graduates on this activity!

Working on the marshmallow challenge

Photographer Joel Simon, BA '74, BS '75, MS '77 taught a couple of photo workshops. I sat in on the first and came away with a few valuable snippets including one I captured in this photo.

See the "S" curve in the path?

The fourth annual Alumni Creative Camp is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, April 24 - Sunday, April 27, 2014. Stay tuned for details!

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Packing Suggestions for your Next Coroporate Retreat

by stanfordsierra

04 16, 2013 | Posted in Event planning, Lodging | 0 comments

Our first groups of the spring conference season arrive Friday, so we are sharing our packing tips to help you prepare to attend a Lake Tahoe retreat this spring. Before packing for any trip, check the weather in the destination city. I like the National Weather service forecast. This weekend we'll have daytime temps in the low 60s and nighttime lows in the 30s - A pretty big range which is typical in the mountains. Wearing layers is a convenient way to stay comfortable as temperatures rise through the day then drop again in the evening. For the dress code, you probably have a good idea of your company/ organization's dress code, and you can check the event agenda for specifics. Most groups that meet here at Stanford Sierra Conference Center dress casual for their meals and meeting, I think I've seen attendees from just about every group wearing jeans. Yeah for casual meetings!

Groups meeting here choose a casual dress code

If you can access your event's agenda in advance, check for free time. We encourage all groups to schedule free time to get outside in our beautiful setting on Fallen Leaf Lake. The best activities here are boating and hiking.

Plan to get out on the water during your visit

Our boat dock is open when there aren't scheduled meetings. Both groups visiting this weekend have free time on Saturday afternoon. Just head down to the boat dock and a friendly staff member will get you a life jacket then set you up in the watercraft of your choice. We have kayaks, peddle boats, stand up paddle boards and sailboats. There can be a cool breeze on the water, so a light, water-resistant out layer would work well for this weekend's weather.

There are excellent hiking options from Stanford Sierra

Plan to get out for at least a short walk during your visit. The Lower Falls are just a few minutes from Stanford Sierra on paved roads.

The Lower Falls

If you would like a longer hike, you might want to bring waterproof footwear. Some higher trails, including around Lily Lake on your way to the Upper Falls, have standing water from melting snow. The mid Tallac Trail and could be a good option for this weekend. Check in at the office for a hiking map and directions. To complete your packing bring any prescription medicine and toiletries you'll need during your stay. We stock our lodge rooms and cabins with soap, shampoo, conditioner and lotion. Our onsite store, the Fountain, sells a variety of items in case you forget something. For a full packing list, take a look at the packing guide on our website. Enjoy your trip!

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