A summer waltz

By Hilary Hobbs

“I will be rocks , I will be water”

The crooning lyrics, sung by local bluegrass band Hick’ry Switch, rise up into the evening sky.

“Lift your head up to your wind.”

I do.

I sway in time to the guitar and voice as the create a new harmony, blending with the flow of the Truckee and the wisp of an evening breeze.

Sitting near the river’s edge, I watch the setting sunlight reflect off the Truckee’s surface, as the shallow water in turn dances and churns over smooth river rocks. The crowd listens reverently, quietly acknowledging that this moment, a gathering at twilight, at the River’s edge, is not to be disturbed.

Summer performances at Sierra Water Gardens on the north bank of the Truckee River are, to me, the quintessential celebration of this river.

There is something musical about the Truckee. At times, like during this spring’s torrent, the Truckee’s rhythm is an up-tempo fiddle tune. And at times, as it slows to a languid late summer flow, it is a waltz.

Staying afloat

By Gayle Brandeis

A few days after my dad’s death last year, my sister and I drove down the mountain from my home in Incline Village to spend the day in Reno before her red eye flight back home to Toronto. Our eyes were red already–the tears kept coming and going–but it was a supremely beautiful day and we were happy to be outside, walking along the Truckee River. We found ourselves at Whitewater Park, where a father and his two kids were practicing rolling their kayaks.

Gayle with her father. Photo courtesy Gayle Brandeis.

The sight stopped us in our tracks; we couldn’t pull ourselves away as each kayaker took turns maneuvering their craft down a tiny drop, water frothing around them, then flipping themselves upside down into the greenish current. We held our breaths until each colorful boat broke back through the surface, upright once again. The father called out encouragement to his kids and we laughed with them and then cried a little more, swept into the rapids of grief, the rush and swirl of it, our arms around each other like life-vests, keeping each other afloat.

The twelfth perfect day

It swirled to the left around this rock, and to the right around that one. The water making soft water donuts and crescent moons beyond the rocks.

I sat in a little donut of my own. Inflatable, classic blue and white, the same inner tube everyone else had. I pulled my cowboy hat over my face and let my head snuggle against my little headrest.

I could see a little fluffy cloud through the holes in my hat and tried to keep it in view as I slid softly round and round, barely making it downstream. It hung on a hook in the sky. The Stationary Shapeshifter. A flag, a sea turtle, a frog, a moose.

It was a low water year. The tubing was often more walking than floating, but it didn’t matter. We drank our PBR sometimes in companionable silence, sometimes with contagious laughter dancing through the trees.

A little smile as I took a picture of my feet framing the backdrop of a lush, tree-filled mountainside. And a video that couldn’t hope to do the river justice. The cooler floated over to me and I clipped it to my tube and pulled out another beer. My turn.

The twelfth perfect day in that still-early summer.

I think back to tubing the Truckee River. My haven, my little blue sliver of solace, my favorite part of summer.

Now my sweet, innocent river is full of rage. Rebellious and ornery after the long, long winter. Muddy and angry, frothing and hungry. Chewing up trees, leaping up to gnaw on bridges, tumbling boulders around and around – crushing them, making new sand. I want my happy, floaty, dreamy, beer-laden summer back.

But the world has other plans. For now.

So now I keep floating, swirling to the left through the Truckee’s eddies in my dreams.

Rafting with Rivers for Change


Last Friday we joined Rivers for Change on the Truckee River in rafts and kayaks and SUP boards. From Lockwood to USA Parkway, our One Truckee River AmeriCorps braved the Truckee River rapids alongside student ambassadors (age 8-13) and professional river recreators.

For lunch, the group stopped at the McCarran Ranch Preserve and we got to share what the One Truckee River Management Plan is all about, and ways people can help keep the river healthy in an urban environment. We had a blast!

While we partied with the crew just Friday, the students and some of the pros had been sailing the river since June 2, from the Upper Truckee River in South Lake Tahoe alllll the way to Wadsworth, and then biked from Nixon to Pyramid Lake along the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway. Everyone who participated was amazing! See the pictures below:

Nevada State Legislature: AB 379 (We need your help!)

In the One Truckee River Management Plan, one of our action items (4.1.e) states that OTR will “continue to work on advocacy for enabling Park District legislation that would provide a sustainable funding source for all parks, open space, fire-adapted communities and natural resources in the Truckee Meadows region.”

That legislation is happening right now, and the bill in question (AB379) is being forwarded to Governor Sandoval this week.

This statewide enabling legislation will provide another viable long-term strategy for our local communities to use in the management of our local park, recreation, open space and natural resources, trails and critical watersheds. Nevada’s cities’ and counties’ parks, recreation and open space departments experienced significant recessionary funding cuts, up to 50% in certain areas, over the past 5-10 years. The funding levels have not been restored and this has resulted in severe service reductions for our local communities, infrastructure deterioration and lack of safety maintenance funding of our local facilities.

As we prepare for continued growth in our communities, the time is now to make sure we have outstanding and well-maintained parks and recreation facilities, programs for engaging our youth, open spaces, trails and quality natural areas for our neighborhoods.

We are very close to securing the final approval for this most important legislation. We are now in need of your immediate and specific support to secure the Governor’s signature on the Bill. It passed the Senate by a vote of 13-7 on Thursday, May 25th, and received the required Assembly concurrence on Monday, May 29th. It will now be processed and forwarded to the Governor, expected this week.

Please show your support!
1. Send an email to Governor Sandoval or call his office expressing support and urging his approval of the Bill.
2. Send a letter to Governor Sandoval expressing support and urging him to sign the Bill.

Information regarding the bill can be found here: https://www.leg.state.nv.us/S…/79th2017/Reports/history.cfm…

First mile marker installed on Truckee River

Yesterday we had a little shindig at Fisherman’s Park on the Truckee River, installing the first mile marker on the Truckee River.

These mile markers came at the perfect time: What with the powerful flows of the river and the local fire departments warning folks to stay extra safe around the river this spring, the markers will now serve as emergency locations. A specific number is displayed on each marker, to be relayed to the 911 operator in an emergency situation.

Additionally, the recreating public can use the markers as location guidance. The markers will be installed every tenth of a mile, according to river miles, with “mile zero” being at Lake Tahoe in Tahoe City.


The creation and installation of the mile markers is a collaborative effort between One Truckee River and the Reno and Sparks fire departments, specifically the Water Entry Teams. We’d like to give huge shout-outs to Manny Souza with the Sparks Fire Department and Eric Lieberman with the Reno Fire Department for their help in this entire process.

We placed marker 574 (mile 57.4) first because it was the spot closed to the boundary line between Reno and Sparks. Council members Donald Abbott (Sparks), David Bobzien (Reno), Charlene Bybee (Sparks), Naomi Duerr (Reno), and Paul McKenzie (Reno) were present for the installation — thanks to Councilmember McKenzie for doing the actual installation!

Initially, the markers will be placed along the river path throughout Reno and Sparks, and will eventually run along the entire Truckee River.

Installation of these mile markers fulfills a first-year action item listed in the One Truckee River Management Plan.

Between May 1 and May 12, we will be installing the markers in Reno in time for the River Fest on May 13-14. Volunteers are needed! Please email a.hoeft@nevadalandtrust.org for more details.

Ode to the River

By Eric Hobson

Fishing, bait lure or fly
Cutthroat rainbow or Brown

Playing in the river
Kayaking tubing or swim

Walking on the bank
Tahoe Pyramid Trail or River Walk

Bridges crossings old and new
From Fanny to Pyramid Lake

Wildlife supported so diverse
Beaver Deer and more

Tributaries and diversions
Natural and man made

Dining along the flow
From fine to food trucks

Parks and recreation
Casinos to music venues and playgrounds

Crossed by highways and byways
City streets and pedestrian spans

Truly the aorta of a region
The Truckee runs through it

Featured photo by Cessie Pulleyn

Open Water

By Angela Spires

Since I didn’t believe in Fitbits, I walked at a brisk pace with my PokemonGo App tracking my ‘steps.’ My friend Tee, having just finished an hour of dancing, joined me. She shook her head at my game, that would interest her grandchildren, but we unwound differently. Warm night air blew past providing the perfect amount of breeze. Most nights held this ideal temperature by the Truckee River downtown. Tee’s feet ached and she wanted to dip them in the water. At Wingfield Park, we made our way down to the river. I didn’t especially like rivers or bodies of water in general. Actually, I hated being in open waters, mainly because of an irrational fear of things that lived there. Perhaps this came from watching horror movies at an early age. But what could possibly be lethal in a few inches of water? Hesitantly, I submerged my feet as well.

“This isn’t enough,” Tee said. “I’m going to sit on that rock.” She pointed at a rock covered in water and forming the curve of a slide. Slick and smooth, the water poured over it. Not caring about her skirt getting wet, she walked to the rock and sat, water surrounding her legs, feet submerged. “Come on,” she said. “You can do it.” I simultaneously admired the action and thought she was a little crazy.

Uncertainly, I made my way to her and sat. My heart raced. My capris quickly absorbed the cool water, the stone welcoming like a backless recliner. I slid a little further in and followed as Tee pointed out the yellow star that was actually Mars. The water brought a warmth and safety to me that I hadn’t expected and I let it wash over me, unknown, but safe, and we continued to talk.

Featured photo by Cessie Pulleyn

A Real River

By Tina Hogue

When I saw the Truckee for the first time I thought,

“So this is a real river.”

It looked relatively shallow from the passenger window, as I leaned back in my seat.

The rivers where I’m from are mostly stagnant ponds filled with mosquito larvae. Last year, the rains flooded the Guadalupe 20 feet in an hour. The worst in decades. Swept away a whole family. Never saw it coming.

A man at the foot of the trail stopped us.

“Path’s flooded, waist-deep,” he said.

He had on sturdy boots and carried a walking stick. I was wearing flip-flops with socks, blisters on my heels from my poor choice in shoes. My boyfriend had his sleeping bag rigged to his pack with cheap carabiners.

“We came this far,” was the consensus, and we kept on until we reached the river.

I clipped my flip-flops to my pack and held it up high. The river was stronger than it looked. The force of all the snowmelt sucked the wind from my lungs. Up to my waist half-way through, I doubted every rock. So smooth-looking from the bank, they felt rough as cut metal on my city feet. I cursed myself for taking off my shoes as the current pushed hard against my side, challenging my balance.

I worried my sleeping bag was wet. And my phone.

I remembered reading about the bodies found tangled in the oaks, covered in ants.

Silently, I pleaded with the Truckee gods.

We reached the bank, completely zapped. I yanked the towel I had protecting my Bluetooth, and dried off. Shivering there, completely humbled by the effort, I noticed how beautiful the river actually looked underneath the sun. I stood in my flip-flops, wiggled my numb little toes and felt gratitude for the warmth that came.

Featured photo by Cessie Pulleyn

A River’s Invitiation

By Eileen Bidwell

Reminiscent of my native Chicago, a river runs through the heart of our city, altering its geographic and cultural landscape. Our first encounter with the Truckee was 13 years ago. Strolling down Virginia Street during Hot August Nights, my husband and I noticed a sign directing us to a River Walk. Seeking respite from the crowds and automotive exhaust, we wandered across the Virginia bridge, and found a perfect spot to experience the river. That evening we watched the sun set beyond the mountains to the west. Vintage lamps illuminated the river’s ripples. They danced, animated, with a golden glow. At that moment I knew Reno would someday be our home.

We will never take the astonishing natural splendor of our region for granted. No day is complete without pausing to observe the Truckee’s many moods, from tranquil serenity to rapid rush—powerful and enchanting. Our favorite vantage points are looking west from the wooden bridge downtown, where the horizon is framed by sky and mountains, and from the Booth Street bridge, where we imagine how the river must have appeared before development and human intervention. Then, it meandered past pristine mountain vistas into a mysterious wilderness inhabited by native trees and creatures.

Just as we sought respite from the chaotic festival scene, the Truckee offers an intriguing contrast from the desert landscape, and, for us humans, a respite from the cares of daily life. Rivers are journeys that entice our imaginations to meander along with them. They change with the seasons, the weather, the time of day, and sometimes with the mood of the observer. They create a sense of adventure, a sojourn into an unknown region around each bend. In our urban context, the Truckee is a symbol of our connection to the natural world. And every evening after sunset, it meanders back into the realm of magic.

Featured photo by Cessie Pulleyn