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A Life Less Ordinary

Autumn Weekend at Lake Tahoe

One of the exciting things about our life as house and pet sitters, other than living in comfortable houses for free, being in the company of the most amazing dogs and experiencing different neighborhoods, is the opportunity we have to explore different areas of the United States. Wherever you live in this country, there are always a lot of places to go for a hike or impressive sites to discover within driving distance.

Lake Tahoe seen from the town of South Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe seen from the town of South Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe, located on the border of California and Nevada is the third deepest lake in North America. It has a remarkable water clarity and is surrounded by boulders, sand and snow-capped mountains. To say it is picturesque is stating the obvious. Only small parts of its shoreline are developed, which means lots of outdoor activities abound in the many state and federal parks that abut it. The Lake Tahoe area is located two hours east of Rocklin, CA, where Mark and I are currently house sitting for three months. Knowing winter is on its way, we took advantage of a sunny weekend to revisit Lake Tahoe with our current three-year-old dog Hercules. Mark and I last passed through over a decade ago. While the high temperature would be in the lower 60s – but was actually in the 50s (10°C – 15°C) – it already freezes at night, so camping was out of the question. We stayed in a cheap pet-friendly motel for one night instead and hoped for an early start.

Our Saturday began with a decent delay, however, when, after an hour on the road, Mark had a particular doubt in his head. “Did we close the garage door?” Not used to parking inside with our car and then pressing the button when leaving, we didn’t know whether this had become a habit yet or not. Just like on our boat, when we didn’t remember whether we shut all our windows before dinghying to shore, I couldn’t tell for sure. Habits are a funny thing. You actually don’t remember going through the oh so familiar motions. Just like on our boat, we turned back. Of course, the garage door was shut. Just like our hatches at anchor, 99% of the time!

It was a gorgeous day and – not knowing any better – I had selected one of the most popular dog-friendly hikes of the Lake Tahoe area as our objective for the afternoon. To say it was busy is an understatement. All the parking lots were swamped, tourists were parked along the road, human bodies were everywhere, the trail was packed. When we finally managed to grab a narrow parking spot, we prepared for the commotion. We had our lunch at a quieter viewpoint (ignoring the “Wedding in Progress” sign since there was no soul in view) and then started on the Eagle Falls Trail. While the scenery was spectacular, the business of the trail was not something we were used to anymore. Every few yards, we had to step aside to let oncoming foot traffic go by in a single file, or others moved out of the way for us and Herk. We steadily and slowly climbed past Eagle Falls and onward to Eagle Lake. Screaming children made this peaceful environment less enjoyable, but, it was very pretty. On the way down, we made a little detour and had a more relaxing experience.

Along the road to our accommodation, we stopped at Fallen Leaf Lake with the intention to hike partway around it. But, we were out of drinking water and the adjacent campground was closed for the season, so there was no chance to refill our water bottles. Since it was still early, we drove to South Lake Tahoe’s shore after checking in and filling our bottles. Initially only seeing “no dogs” signs, we did find a dog-friendly beach after a bit of exploring. Herk would have loved to be off-leash, but Mark and I did not want to take the chance of losing him here, so far from home… As a greyhound mix, he does have instincts that overrule commands sometimes.

Sunday was another sunny, relatively warm day, and we did much better picking a trail for our day hike. When we arrived at the new Van Sickle Bi-State Park on the border with Nevada, the parking lot was not flooded, a good sign. Mark, Herk and I followed the incline of the Connector Trail, all the way to the Lake Tahoe Rim Trail, 2.5 hours into the sierras. The path climbed steadily for about four miles and followed the edge of a mountain, through forests and along boulders. We stopped once for a great view and then walked on without stopping.

Mark had a headache as well (mine started the day before), which confirmed that it had to do with the altitude. We were above 7000 feet and – again – not used to that at all, living at sea level for eight years. The pain eased as we descended later on. We had our packed lunch overlooking ski lifts and ventured back down to our car afterwards. The return hike only took an hour and a half and we were rewarded with non-stop Lake Tahoe views. We felt satisfied with the exercise and decided to go home, where the temperature rose into the seventies (twenties Celsius). Herk slept the whole drive back!

21 Comments

  1. Beautiful scenery and ‘popular’ walks can get very crowded when you do not know the quieter times to go. Herk looks like a real sweetheart and an unusual mix. Enjoy your time in this wonderful looking place :o)

    • It should not have come as a surprise that other people wanted to take advantage of the nice weekend (maybe the last one of the season). We are just so not used to crowds anymore, and now we live in a busy area… Although, he doesn’t really look like a greyhound or whippet, I did have to think about you when I found out about his breed. 🙂

  2. Such a pretty place! I’ve only been once (for a wedding in South Tahoe at a casino that sits between both states), but loved the experience.

    • I did see “your” casino from the trail we did on Sunday, Ryan. It obstructed the beautiful view! 🙂 Though, I am sure going to a wedding at Lake Tahoe is pretty special and spectacular!

  3. Very informative. Thank you!

  4. Great pictures, Liesbet! That Hercules is one lucky dog. I imagine his people are happy in the knowledge he’s in such good hands.

    • I think they are happy with their choice of “hiring” us. From the moment they found us and read our profile and blog, they didn’t even consider others… 🙂 Sometimes, I think we are spoiling him too much with love, pets and attention, since we are home all day and the owners are usually not. We don’t want Herk to expect this much love all the time! 🙂

  5. Beautiful! You’ve made it look deserted too, even if it wasn’t.

    • I don’t like people in my photos. That being said, Mark suggested I take one photo with heaps of tourists in it to remember the crowds, but, of course, I didn’t publish that one!

  6. I hate that feeling of wondering if I’ve left a hatch open, the car unlocked, the iron on etc. I can’t relax until I check it out.

    Let’s see if this comment goes through…

    • Yay. It came through, Ellen! Why do we always feel like we forgot to do something, when usually we didn’t? The only way to find out is to go back and check. Argh!

  7. Oh that feeling of not remembering if doors are closed or locked is frustrating. Always best to check though so you can enjoy your time. Wonderful photos and glad you were able to find some space away from the crowds. also interesting ot read of the effects of altitude.

    • I think people that are responsible and uptight, like us, don’t rest until we know for sure that we left the place in perfect order, with the garage door – or hatches – closed! Being more relaxed with certain things might be healthier… But, our minds work in a certain way, and Mark and I know from experience that we – indeed – have to be sure about these things to enjoy our outing. Especially when it is somebody else’s house, boat or property!

  8. I love Lake Tahoe. It’s been years since I was last there. Bummer about the crowds on the trails. That was the thing I liked least about Rocky Mountain National Park.
    Altitude = up your intake of water and take a couple of aspirin a day for about 3 days to thin the blood and don’t over do the physical activity. I found myself this past summer struggling which surprised me. Guess I’m no longer as used to the higher elevations like I used to be.

    • That’s another good tip, Ingrid. We always take and drink a lot of water when we go hiking. In this case, honestly, we never thought about altitude! We were just going to Lake Tahoe for the weekend… Also, we often make these decisions of going certain places last minute. That being said, I am putting some aspirin into our day packs for a possible next time! It is interesting how we adjust to our environments after spending a lot of time there. I wonder whether we will suffer from heat and humidity next time we go to the tropics, since we have been out of that climate for over a year now. Not that we are getting used to the colder climate here. 🙂

  9. I’ve only been to Lake Tahoe a few times. My in-laws used to live in South Lake Tahoe and my brother-in-law still owns the family cabin. Hmmm… I guess I should get up there one of these days. I know well the feeling of leaving the garage door open. I have called a neighbor more than once to go check for me. I guess I should make a checklist of things to do before leaving the house 😄 .

    • Checklists are often handy, but sometimes, they put a lot of pressure on someone (like me making a list of all the things I want achieve every week!). 🙂 South Lake Tahoe has so much to offer and that new Bi-State Park is very close by and wonderful! You should get up there again. And, we found the best “vegetarian” restaurant in town as well. 🙂 PS: We now have the phone number of our neighbor in case doubts about the garage door appear again…

  10. What a beautiful area, love the lake and the surrounding mountains. It that a thin layer of snow on the mountain tops or is it just the light tricking me? It seems like you had a lovely time away from the crowds enjoying nature and silence.

    • That is indeed snow, Inger. By now, I am sure there is more of it. The elevation in Lake Tahoe is pretty high, so we had to get there for some hiking before it became too cold… We don’t like cold. 🙂 There are a lot of hikes, viewpoints and outdoor activities around Tahoe. You would love it! 🙂

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