A typical drive out to nature goes like this. You’ll start off on the car-packed freeway from your city or town. After a while, the freeway narrows down into a couple of lanes. And gradually, quietly, the road makes the transition into just a single lane. At the same time, the path to your destination loses its straightness and the road will appear to develop a mind of its own, winding through forests of solemn trees with majestic mountains rising out of the backdrop.
Soon, you’ll find yourself there. Our group of friends certainly did this past weekend in one of loveliest of places – Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe. For those familiar with the area, images of snow and skis immediately cross the mind. But summertime in Tahoe is entirely different while still maintaining the beauty of the great outdoors. Most obviously the snow is gone. In its place appear green from the trees, freed from the powder, as well as wildlife, shrubbery, and a glowing sun. Did I mention how beautiful Tahoe is during the summer?
Our plan for the day was simple – hike the trail, enjoy the amazing scenery, and have a great time in good company. After parking on the side of the road, we hit Rubicon Trail without much delay. The hike itself was a pleasant 4.5 mile adventure passing through peaceful forests, opening up to amazing views of the lake, and finally ending along the shoreline of Emerald Bay. We made sure to take plenty of breaks for photos and even took a quick detour to see the Rubicon Point Lighthouse, which turned out to be a tiny wooden lighthouse built in 1919.
After a quick sandwich lunch we were nearing our endpoint when we found ourselves practically next to the water. Seeing other people enjoying the lake on such a hot day, we knew we had to make a stop to enjoy it as well. With a quick and slightly-treacherous climb down some rocks, we were soon swimming in the ice-cold lake water. The area became our semi-private cove and we enjoyed it for all it was worth.
Feeling refreshed from our swim, we continued our trek and finally reached our end point, the southernmost point of Emerald Bay. We passed by a beach area filled with people sunbathing in the sand and jumping into water, took a quick ice cream break at the gift shop, and purchased tickets for a guided tour of the 38-room mansion Vikingsholm at the waterfront.
Vikingsholm was built in the 1920s by a wealthy widow who was fascinated by Scandinavian design. As we walked through the entrance of the giant house this fascination became immediately apparent. From carved dragon heads down to the last details of the locks, everything in the house evoked images of Norse royalty. The tour took us from the main portion of the mansion to the servant’s quarters and even included the original Dodge automobile on the property. It was captivating and I could appreciate the amount of effort and passion that went into building and maintaining this property.
We ended our day at one of the highest points of Emerald Bay, a steep two-mile climb to the parking lot. The grueling walk was worth it – the view was absolutely spellbinding. We could see everything that made Lake Tahoe such a beautiful place. The water was a shimmering, crystal-clear blue. Green coniferous trees stretched out as far as the eye could see. White motorboats looked like tiny creatures lazily floating on the water. And Fannette Island, the only island in Lake Tahoe, rested in the center of this stunning scene.
It was a truly amazing ending to a fun and adventure-filled day. We caught our rides and drove back to our rented house near Heavenly, enjoying the rest of the evening before heading back to the freeways leading to our cities and towns. And we knew that this past weekend was a special treat and the perfect break from the hecticness of our day-to-day lives.