tldr; many activities with many friends.
Next up on our list of places to visit was South Lake Tahoe! Despite smelling like sulfury mud thanks to out visit to the hot springs, we were welcomed with open arms by Frankie, Dan, and Frankie’s dog Juniper.
We had met up with Frankie and Dan in Moab back in March as they took a spring break trip in Dan’s van. This time, they were a few weeks in to a summer-long van trip, traveling all over the midwest and the west. It was fun to get to hear about their adventures and their fast-paced travels (moving to a new location every few days) compared to our slow and steady pace, just traveling on weekends and evenings.
Dan shares a house with some friends in Tahoe so we spent our days working and hanging out there, enjoying the washing machine and dishwasher. We even had enough space to spread out and do a puzzle, something I’d been missing in the van. A couple of days after we arrived, Frankie and Dan headed off to Yosemite for a couple nights while we stayed back in the house with Juniper.
While they were gone, Juniper spent her days keeping a close eye on the doors and windows to make sure Frankie and Dan wouldn’t sneak back without her knowing. Us humans worked during the day, took Juniper to a dog park, and explored one of Tahoe’s many bouldering spots, just a few minutes from the house.
Once Frankie and Dan got back, we explored Tahoe more. We went to the lake to bike and let Juniper swim, explored more bouldering areas, and even tried out a bike course with ramps and jumps! We took turns making meals, Frankie and Dan definitely won the meal award with their homemade fried chicken, waffles, and “goop” (kind of a thicker gravy?)
On Friday, my friend Courtney arrived along with a few of Dan’s friends. We all went grocery shopping and packed up to prepare for our weekend backpacking plans together in Desolation Wilderness.
The drive in to the trailhead in Desolation Wilderness was beautiful, a winding road with views of Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay. The trail itself was also beautiful and not nearly as intimidating as the name makes it sound. We hiked up into the mountains, with wide views of lakes and the valley below. While we hiked, Juniper ran up to whoever was at the front of our group and then to the back to the end of the line, making sure everyone was accounted for. We got to our campsite in the afternoon and relaxed for a while as some of Dan’s friends fished. I jumped into the lake and splashed around before laying out on a warm rock to doze and dry off.
We all watched the sunset and the sky turn pink and then orange. Courtney, Choi, and I had all decided to hammock camp rather than pack in a tent. We loved sleeping under the stars, our hammocks slung between tall pine trees at the top of a rocky outcropping.
The next morning, I woke up early and walked around the lake to sit on a big boulder and watch the sun rise. I kept my eyes peeled on the woods in hopes that I might see a friendly bear (from afar). No luck on my bear spotting so I just sat and enjoyed the still morning as the sun peaked over the mountain behind me.
We spent all day on Sunday hiking, taking rests to soak up the amazing views along the way. We stopped at the most magical spot for lunch, a lake with tons of tiny rocky islands scattered through it. I jumped in as soon as we got there and swam out to one of these rocky islands. The water was cold but refreshing and clear. The sun was bright but not too hot. I’d love to go back and spend days just hanging out on that lake.
Once we got back from the wilderness, we all ate burgers and greatly enjoyed our showers and ice cream. After a couple more days of exploring together, Frankie, Dan, and Juniper headed out to their next destination while Choi, Courtney, and I all stayed at the house to finish up our work week. Choi and I found a bike path that leads straight to the lake and we all checked out more climbing spots, slowly getting some of our climbing strength back after a too-long break of very little climbing in Southern California.
I absolutely loved our time in Lake Tahoe. It’s the perfect city for people who love the outdoors with hiking, mountain biking, trail running, climbing, swimming, boating, skiing in the winter, and so much more all within just a few minutes of the town.
Lake Tahoe, we love your amazing running, hiking, and biking trails, your easily accessible climbing, and your massive, refreshing lakes. We’ll definitely be back. Along We Go!