Contributor to This Issue
My captivation with the Sierra Nevada began when I was 20 years old. I had grown up in Philadelphia, PA., but in September 1977 I hitchhiked to Yosemite National Park where on my first day I landed a job at the Ahwahnee Hotel.
This was long before the Internet so what little information that I knew about Yosemite was what I had gleaned from the text and photographs in a National Geographic Magazine.
California was in the throes of severe drought and the only waterfall still running when I arrived was Illilouehette, but my imagination could fill in the action on the others. The famous photographer Ansel Adams was still there and as a busboy I worked the Christmas season Bracebridge Dinners in the historic Ahwahnee Dining Room.
The winter of 1977-78 was a big snow year and it confirmed for me that since I was passionate about weather and mountains, the Sierra was where I needed to live.
In October 1978 I moved to Truckee where I lived with friends for four years, skiing and working nights in restaurants before switching to North Lake Tahoe in the spring of 1983. I began renting a small Carnelian Bay cabin that was built in 1927. It has been my home ever since.
After more than a decade managing restaurants I nearly opened one in downtown Truckee, but instead entered the University of Nevada, Reno, as a 33-year-old freshman.
I guess I became a professional writer when I took my first term paper that I wrote about snow surveying for an entry level history class, revised it for publication, and then sold it to Sierra Heritage Magazine for $225.
As an avid fan of weather, history, photography, geography and compelling stories, in the late 1990s I decided to expand my newspaper and magazine writing with a few books about subjects that I enjoy.
That first effort resulted in two popular books, Sierra Stories: True Tales of Tahoe, Vols. 1 and 2. I have continued to publish a new book every few years or so and now have six in the quiver.
Over the past 20 years, I have written for many publications, but primarily for The Tahoe Weekly Magazine and Sierra Sun newspaper.
In 2005 I started producing Tahoe Nuggets to share the beauty and power of the Tahoe Sierra with aficionados across the country and around the world. Many Nuggets illustrate the impact of big winter storms in the region or focus on entertaining historical vignettes.
As a professional speaker, it’s rewarding to create entertaining and informative presentations that encourage people to embrace history and the world around us in a more meaningful way.
I’m currently working on my next book, SNOWBOUND: Legendary Winters of the Tahoe Sierra, slated to be published in Feb. 2016. It is a landscape-formatted book, well-illustrated with dramatic photographs that capture the human drama of mankind struggling against overwhelming snowfall.
Mark McLaughlin, portrait: courtesy of Mark McLaughlin