Thursday, June 20, 2019

Lake Tahoe Basin (CA)

We arrived at an unnamed free U.S. Forest Service campground off of Luther Pass on 05 June 2019 after dark, but the drive to get there was very scenic. We left our previous location after squeaking out every last minute on their public Wi-Fi. Continuing north on Highway 395, we stayed in California by driving west on Highway 89 and finally to Highway 88 (versus continuing north and entering Nevada). The route was certainly quiet. I think we may have passed only a half-dozen other vehicles during the approximately 40-mile trek through the mountains. We drove through the Carson Iceberg Wilderness, and the West Fork Carson River wound its way beside and under the highway for several miles. At one point, coming slowly around a corner, there were five deer on the left shoulder probably no more than 40 feet away from us. Margaret stopped the Roadtrek, and three of the deer crossed in front of us and straight up the cliff to our right. The two remaining deer split up—one going down the cliff to our left and the other following the first three up on our right. They were remarkably agile and out of sight in a flash!

It was so dark when we arrived at the Forest Service campground that we ended up driving through the entire campground and turning around to try and spot a campsite because we could only see a short distance beyond both sides of the road! This campground is better suited to tent campers, but we managed to find a fairly level parking spot for the night (which turned out to be a campsite, we realized in the light of day). The one nice thing about arriving after dark was stepping outside first thing in the morning and seeing just how wondrously majestic it was in the light of day. Wow! It was definitely take-your-breath-away beautiful! The huge Jeffrey Pines were so healthy, lustrous, and aromatic! Oh, and there were springs and creeks seemingly everywhere! Margaret and I both wonder why such a magnificent campground hasn't been named. Get on it, powers-that-be; this heavenly spot deserves a special name!

The view from our campsite. Photo by Margaret.

The Roadtrek in our overnight campsite. Photo by Virginia.

Breakfast with the trees and rocks and the view! Photo by Virginia.

She caught me unawares while I was breakfasting. Photo by sneaky sister, Margaret!

A short movie of forest sites and sounds. Videos & photos by 
Margaret and Virginia. Movie by Virginia. 
[If you have trouble viewing this embedded movie, 
you may view it directly on YouTube here:]

We left our overnight campsite at 11:00 a.m. the next morning and drove northwest on Highway 89 to take in the splendor that is Lake Tahoe. Margaret had seen it many years ago, but I never imagined being able to see it for myself. Being the passenger has its advantages, such as looking out the windows so I could catch that first glimpse of this unique alpine! *chills* All of it is remarkable: its size, depth, clarity, stunning blue color, panoramic setting, and geological formation all contribute to making it a natural wonder not to be missed. And thanks to my sister and our decision to hit the road, I didn't miss it!

We attempted to visit the Taylor Creek Visitor Center, mainly to get one of the all-day parking passes but found it was only open on the weekends until the end of June when it would then be open every day. We walked around a little, mainly reading signs, but also taking in the scenery, before moving on. The next stop was Inspiration Point (above Emerald Bay), which was extremely crowded. Even though visitors are not supposed to park along Highway 89, the parking area and highway were crammed. We lucked out and got a parking spot without too long of a wait. I have to say that the name of this lookout is appropriate, for the view is inspiring—jaw-dropping, too!

Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe from Inspiration Point. Photo by Margaret.

Emerald Bay and Fannette Island from Inspiration Point. Photo by Virginia.

Just a few miles north, Margaret noticed that Sugar Pine Point State Park was open for tours (and parking passes, too!). I'm so glad we stopped and explored there. I hadn't done much reading about the area (kinda wanted to be surprised, I guess), but what a beautiful area!

Sugar Pine Point State Park sign. Photo by Margaret (with Va's iPhone!).

We parked in the shade and turned on the generator and A/C for Peaches. Margaret and I walked to the nature center and then over to the Hellman-Ehrman Mansion. (If I ever go back to this area, I want to take the tour of the mansion; but at $10 per adult, it was too expensive for me.) The house is situated very prettily on a hill overlooking the lake. The grounds were immaculately kept; the walking paths, seating areas, picnic tables, and pier all afforded the most amazing views of the lake and the Western Sierra Nevada Mountains. The weather was in the high 60s, the sky was an unreal shade of blue, and the lake? It is indescribably crystal clear. Margaret and I both walked down some stone steps into the water. The surface water temperature was probably in the mid-50s, so just a bit chilly but totally worth the slight chill to be in Lake Tahoe. Had we been aware of how quiet this area was to sit and reflect, we would have packed in our lunches and gawked while we ate. Instead, we sat on a bench under the Jeffrey Pines and gawked without eating. :>)

The Hellman-Ehrman Mansion (Pine Lodge). Photo by Margaret.

The Hellman-Ehrman Mansion (Pine Lodge). Photo by Margaret.

One of the boathouses and pier. Photo by Margaret.

The stunning view of Lake Tahoe from the mansion's lawn. Photo by Margaret.

Canada Geese on Lake Tahoe from the pier. Photo by Margaret.

Lake Tahoe with the Western Sierra Nevada Mountains. Photo by Virginia.

A panoramic view of Lake Tahoe, pier, and Western Sierra Nevada Mountains. Photo by Virginia.

A short movie by Virginia with photos from Margaret and Virginia,
and videos by Virginia.

We ended up eating lunch in the Roadtrek before continuing north to Tahoe City, where we shopped at Safeway. After stocking up on lots of fresh produce and other goodies, it was time to get on the road to our next campground. That turned out not to be as easy as it had been in the past. There were a number of challenges, and for me, quite a bit of anxiety. Stay tuned for the details on that and much more unbelievably beautiful scenery in our next post. Thanks for coming along with us!

NOTE: Clicking on the photos in the post will open them in a larger view (recommended!). If you want to see more photos of the beautiful places we've shared, we have them in this Flickr Collection: Over the Hill Sisters Photo Collection.


Cyn said...

Oh this campsite brings back wonderful memories of the first few years when Tom and I were together and we tent camped in the Spring Mountains outside Vegas. It was shady and so beautifully cool and relaxing, especially after the heat of the desert. This is lovely! I'd love to check out that mansion!

Margaret Hill said...

Have you been camping anytime after those first few years with Tom? It's probably more difficult now, especially if you don't have an RV. My tent camping days are over. My Roadtrek allows me to continue doing what I love.

You could still visit the Hellman-Ehrman Mansion sometime, though, with a cabin or motel reservation in Lake Tahoe. Then you could take photos of your tour and share them with us!

Cyn said...

Hi Margaret. No, not since the early 90s. My back and neck issues started really bothering me and even though we used an inflatable mattress, getting up and down became very uncomfortable. Maybe if I ever get my hip replaced we can think about doing it again. I really did enjoy it!