Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Glorious Lake Tahoe: July 12 to July 17, 2014

Well, it was off to our yearly trip to Lake Tahoe where we stay in the beautiful vacation home of our friends Dave and Laura.  For more info on this accommodation that you too can rent, check out my post from last year's trip or this link

We had a little trouble scheduling this this year.  At the last minute I decided to put my kids in a theater camp which meant we had to change our reservation dates pretty late in the game.  Luckily, I was successful in making camp/rental/work all line up and we were able to go.

Our Lake Tahoe trips are often full of repeat adventures--the Red Hut, Sand Harbor Beach, jet skiing--so rather than bore you with what we did AGAIN, let me pass on some previously undocumented adventures.

Hiking to the Top of Mt Tallac

Every year we spend a day hiking.  We try to be out for about 6 hours, allowing some time on the other end to visit the beach and soothe tired muscles in the icy cold waters of the lake.

We have done most of the big ones in the South Tahoe area, so we had to pull out the California Hiking book and make a family decision on where to hike.  The family decided to summit Mount Tallac, ranked a 10 out of 10 for scenery and 5 out of 5 for difficulty.  I made a promise to the family that if we were able to complete this hike, we could all go out for ice cream afterward.

Craig and I have done this trail before, 15 years ago, maybe more.  At that time I swore I would never go it again. Nine and a half miles and 7000 feet of elevation (3500 up, 3500 down) later I remembered why.

There are two trailheads that access Mt Tallac, the first, the Mt.Tallac trailhead, which we used, is located 3.8 miles north of the Y.  The other is via the Glen Alpine Trail which starts at the far shore of Fallen Leaf Lake.  The Mt Tallac Trailhead route is shorter, but steeper.

The trail passes in and out of forest initially, with a gradual but steady climb. Very soon you are offered a lovely view overlooking Fallen Leaf Lake on your left with Lake Tahoe behind you.  You pass Floating Lake at about 1.2 miles and then Cathedral Lake at 2.5 miles.  At this
Cathedral Lake
point you are just about half way to your destination, but you aint seen nothin' yet!  From here the intensity of the climb increases mightily, and it's just minutes before you are far above Cathedral Lake.  Here also is the point at which the forest canopy ends, and you are exposed to the direct sunlight as you climb 1000 ft over a very short distance up the face of the mountain to the first summit into the flatter meadows overlooking Desolation Wilderness.  By this time, friends, you are dead, and the energy to press on starts to wane.  This is where the kids started to complain--but visions of rocky road and strawberry cheesecake were strong motivators. Another two miles of steady climbing and some boulder hopping and we were there, overlooking expansive views of Lake Tahoe's south shore and Fallen Leaf Lake from 9735 ft., while chugging Gatorade and eating trail mix and beef jerky.

The cliffs made me nervous and sick to my stomach and I insisted that the kids keep a large distance from the edge.

Was it worth it?  Well, I probably would have enjoyed it more had I a helicopter.  After 
Almost there! High above Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake
climbing 3500 feet over 4.5 miles, there was now a 4.5 mile 3500 foot descent to be reckoned with.  Many say that going up is harder than going down, but for me it is the opposite. Sure the cardio aspect is less, but the muscle work is harder, and for me, the toes and feet pain is the worst.  Much of the trail is covered in bedrock, which is unstable and very hard on your feet. There is no choice but to keep going, so you endure.  The last 1.2 miles past Floating Lake was the longest of my life.  Sheer agony.

I'm in really good shape, but my quads were wicked sore for two full days.

You should do it once, to say you did.  But do it when you're young.  We concluded that this hike really is a 6 out of 5 on a difficulty scale.  Make sure you have plenty of water.  Don't even think about trying this trail if you don't have hiking boots.  Got that?  Don't even think about it!
The long road home has a nice description of this hike.

Camp Richardson Ice Cream Parlor

Well it was time to fulfill my promise.  A right turn out of Mt. Tallac Trailhead road, followed by a short trek down the road and you arrive at Camp Richardson and more importantly the Camp Richardson Ice Cream Parlor on the right side of the road. 

Free parking is somewhat of a challenge so it is safe to drop your party off and let them wait in the line likely out the front door while trying to park.  The kids working are efficient and friendly, so the wait is not painstaking, and BOY do those kids know how to cram ice
cream in a cone!!!!!!  If you have any consideration for calories at all, avoid anything larger than a kids scoop--which is PLENTY at $2.50.  With our 20000 steps and 7000 feet under our belts, we went for the single scoop for 4$ which was like two if not three large scoops if you were anywhere else.  There are about 20 flavors including some sugar free, with plenty of options for sundaes and toppings.
$20 well spent--probably put back everything I burned on that trail!

I had trouble getting exact hours but I know they are only open Memorial Day through Labor Day and probably open til 9 pm.

Pope Beach

Now if you need to get into some icy waters to cool your muscles following your long hike, or you just need a place to spend the day on a wide open beach, right down the street (Highway 89)  from Camp Richardson is Pope Beach.
The entrance fee is 8$, but this gets you into Baldwin Beach, Nevada Beach and Meeks Bay beach as well, should you decide to go there the same day.  The beach does fill on the weekends, but just because there is a sign out saying the beach is full, as when we went Sunday at 3:30, it doesn't mean it is, so it is worth waiting in the short line to check at the kiosk.

There is plenty of parking with easy access to the beach, shade, picnic tables, and plenty of bathrooms.  There is a "Tahoe Treats" lunch truck--but I only saw this on Sunday.

This beach is not as nice in my opinion as Sand Harbor State Beach.  The water is greener as opposed to blue and has more "stuff" in it, especially on a busy day.  But it costs less and is closer to the center of South Lake Tahoe activities.  The water is just as clear and refreshing.
We loved it so much we came back the next day!

My little crew enjoying lovely Pope Beach

South Tahoe SUP

I decided it was time to try out some kayaking. I had often seen people gliding along the
lake, enviously awaiting the day we could give it a try as a family. I decided that day had come and I was looking for rental possibilities.

South Tahoe Stand Up Paddle is conveniently located on Eldorado Beach in the South Lake Tahoe area.  The rental booth is easy to spot.  All registration is conveniently recorded on tablets.

They basically rent two things, stand up paddle boards and single and double kayaks, from 7am to 7pm, 7 days a week. A standard stand up paddle board is 20$/hr, $35 for two hours and $65 or the whole day.  A single kayak respectively is $25, $45, and $80, and a double kayak $30, $55, and $105.  A season pass is available for $275 for an adult, seems pretty good considering you can go for a few hours every day between May 15 and Sept 15, should you be so inclined!

We rented two double kayaks and a single kayak, trusting the fourteen year old to hold her own in the single.  We were in the water by 10 and kayaked until 12. Viewing scenery by kayak is quite peaceful, and the view from 3-4 hundred feet off the shore is one that beachgoers will not get to see typically.  We were able to paddle almost all the way to Pope Beach in one hour, so it might be possible to make it to Emerald Bay with a full day rental, though sitting in a kayak all day may be uncomfortable for many.  The water was quite shallow, 3-5 feet mostly so we were able to jump out and swim and then get back into the kayak without too much difficulty.

Kayaking itself, unless you hit quite a headwind, is not very difficult, and, at least in Tahoe, is a safe activity the whole family can enjoy.

What's New at Round Hill Pines Beach and Marina?

If you have been reading by blog for a while you might have seen my post last summer mentioning the shift of our loyalties from Zephyr Cove Marina to Round Hill Pines Marina when renting personal watercraft...

Ride it like you stole it!!!
A few policies changed at Round Hill Pines, so here is the deal...

1)  Now you need to present a coupon to get the Early Bird discount (before 10).  We didn't have it and they didn't give it to us.
2)  Every driver is required to present their driver's license to drive the jet ski.   I never carry mine, and though I am always concerned that I don't have it, they always let me drive.  Anyway, since Craig had his, they allowed me to drive.
3)  Only two to a jet ski.  They said that this is because people are constantly rolling the jet skis requiring them to rescue renters and their hired watercrafts. I guess more weight increases the risk.  They let us take three if two were kids, never mind that Natalya weighs as much as a small adult.  We promised them we were not daredevils and that they didn't have to worry about us flipping the jet ski.

But Craig flipped his.  He was carrying Nicky and Natalya, i.e. he was driving the jet ski with three people.  He was at almost a full stop and a wave just pushed them over, so it really was no fault of his own.  He got it flipped right back over, so they were not in need of rescue, but there were some tense moments as the crew examined the engine of the once capsized watercraft, assessing our liability.  Not to mention feeling incredibly sheepish after our earlier moments of bravado regarding our jet skiing prowess.

Are we done jet skiing?  Maybe.  The kids are only going to get bigger, very soon mandating that we rent a third PWC, and then who's going to drive it is another issue.  It's a hoot and a half, but it's really expensive.  In fact, we could rent 5 stand up paddle boards with South Tahoe SUP for two hours and it still would not cost as much as it costs to rent just TWO jet skis for half an hour at Round Hill.  Hmm.  Not much competition when we're talking bang for your buck.

What's New at Sand Harbor State Beach?

This might not be new at all.  Maybe we never noticed it before, but suddenly you are able to rent SUP's and kayaks right on the beach at Sand Harbor!

Sand Harbor Rentals rents basically the same things that South Tahoe SUP rents, for about $5 more per hour. Location, location, location, I guess.  The rental canopy is located by the boat ramp, at an area of Sand Harbor Beach I had never ventured upon before!  Here is a little cove, with a little beach, the only area in which you can have a hard bottomed craft in the swimming area.  Some have their boats moored right along the beach!

Anyway, we had never SUP'd (sorry, just got tired of writing it out every time!) at Lake Tahoe and we were eager to give Nicholas some practice time on a still lake before trying this in Hawaii in a few weeks, so we rented two SUP's for one hour, just to play around a little.

Paddleboarding is tricky, but once you get the hang of it, it's a blast.  The trick I found is to start paddling immediately upon standing up.  This stabilizes the board.  Trying to balance on a non-moving board is a great lesson in frustration!

Once again, everyone can do it!  You can even have a small child or a dog as a passenger!  On Lake Tahoe you can get great exercise while enjoying great scenery and great water!

Okay that does it for Lake Tahoe!  Now I'm off to Hawaii!  Trying desperately to get this posted.  Sorry about the lack of personal pictures, but my water camera was in disrepair and we did do a lot on the water!!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...