If dog heaven could be compared to anywhere on this earth, it’s probably Lake Tahoe. The lakes. The beaches. The streams. The trails. The snow. The love.
The communities of Lake Tahoe have a love and acceptance of dogs like no other, and they prove it next weekend at the Peaks and Paws Festival at Squaw Valley Aug. 24–25.
In its fourth year, the festival takes place at the Village at Squaw Valley with a Fetch Fest at Cushing Pond (a timed ball retrieval), dog-friendly guided hikes and the first competitive trail run from Alpine Meadows to Squaw Valley — which you can do with your dog as well.
The weekend will also include nonstop live music, beer and wine tasting, arts and crafts vendors, as well as boutique shopping in the village.
But the real highlight of the weekend is giving your four-legged friend the opportunity to hang with other dogs, explore the wild and simply be him or herself.
While the event is free, there are entry fees for the Fetch Fest ($5) and the Alpine 2 Squaw 10K run/walk ($40 per person, $45 per person with pet). A portion of the proceeds will go to the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe.
“The event is a blast,” said Stephanie Jensen-Nistler, executive director of HSTT “Thousands of people come out for the fun. And I’m not sure if there are more people or more dogs.”
Not only are dogs extremely common in the Tahoe-Truckee area, they’re celebrities of sorts. Renowned photographer Keoki Flagg has centered an entire series on the Squaw ski patrol dogs, while Alpine Meadows has featured their canine professionals on resort trading cards.
Whether a lifesaver or a lazy dog, strolling through town, man’s best friend generally gets more greetings than its owner. They get free drinks (albeit a communal bowl of tap water) and snacks at nearly every storefront. A Tahoe dog’s life is one of royalty.
“I think if you have a dog, there’s no better place to live than Tahoe,” Jensen-Nistler said.
“People just love their dogs here. There are so many outdoorsy things to do with them. I think the kind of people who are drawn to the area just love dogs.”
Saturday’s events include the Alpine 2 Squaw Challenge and guided hikes at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. (leaving from High Camp).
The hikes are free with a tram ticket or season pass. The Fetch Fest, which has dogs competing to see who can retrieve the most balls in a set period of time, takes place Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m.
On the music front is mandolin maestro David Grisman. Grisman leads his four-piece band through his own personal spin in the form of “dawg” music, a unique, highly intricate, harmonically advanced hybrid of so many different stylistic influences (swing, bluegrass, Latin, jazz, gypsy) that he had to invent a name for it.
He takes the stage at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Closing the festival Sunday afternoon is Tahoe’s favorite high-energy, Americana/roots-infused five-piece band, the Dead Winter Carpenters.
The lineup also includes a host of other great roots and bluegrass acts, including locals Paige Anderson & the Fearless Kin, The Brothers Comatose, Low Flying Birds, and The Silent Comedy.
A wine tasting takes place on First Street in The Village from 3-6 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday — featuring savory and unique wines from 15 different vineyards, including Charlyn Zin, White Hart and McIntyre Vineyards.
Music by Lonesome Locomotive, The Sierra Drifters, and Bison will accompany the wine tasting.
Wine tasting is $25 per day, and the price includes a festival wine glass with a $5 discount available with entry donation.
The refreshing flavors of Lagunitas beer will also be available for $4 from 2-8 p.m.
All proceeds from wine tasting and beer sales benefit the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe.
The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Village at Squaw Valley.
The 10K challenge begins at 8 a.m. with the last shuttle to Alpine Meadows leaving at 7:30 a.m.
For information, go to http://squaw.com.
Freelance writer Katrina Paz lives in Grass Valley.