Thursday, October 15, 2020

Truckee/ Tahoe Trip

With all of the wildfires raging on the West Coast, the hubby and I have had a handful of our camping trips cancelled (not to mention the ones that were cancelled before that due to COVID). On our last trip to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks, we decided to try and plan a few upcoming trips, hoping the first responders would be able to get the fires under control by the time we left. The first trip we put on the books (obviously in pencil, since we weren't sure it'd actually happen till about a day before we left) was to the Truckee/ Lake Tahoe area (straddling the California/ Nevada border). 

The hubby and I had only been to Lake Tahoe once before. We went for a family wedding a couple of summers ago, which meant we didn't have a ton of time to explore the area because we were spending the majority of our time with friends and family. With the hubby working remote through at least the end of the year, I was able to request off Friday and Monday, making the 8.5 hour drive each way a little more "worth it" since we'd be able to stay for the long weekend. We packed up the AdventureMobile and left Thursday night after I got off work for the evening. 

Originally we were planning to make it to Sacramento and stay with friends (well, technically we would have been staying in their driveway, still being respectful of the social distance orders in effect, but at least we would be in their vicinity ;)). Well, seeing as we didn't leave Carlsbad until around 7:15pm, by the time 12:30am hit we were pretty tired. Thankfully we were able to find a primitive campground in Gustine to crash at for the evening. It was empty as far as we could tell, but paid our $20 fee and snagged a spot (there didn't appear to be official spots, but there were picnic tables and fire pits every once in a while, so we parked where we thought was a spot) near the water. It was pretty windy, but other than that it seemed fine. We pulled in, popped the top and hit the sack. The wind on the O'Neill Forebay was the perfect soundtrack to fall asleep to. By 7am we were both refreshed and ready to continue on towards our final destination.

Although the hubby has the flexibility to be able to work remote currently, that doesn't mean he is just maxin' and relaxin'. With that said, Friday was still a work day for him, so I did the driving, letting him work from the passenger seat. We were staying in Truckee at a campground, but on the way we wanted to stop at some spots near Donner Lake. The plan was to stop at a few of the pull-offs to check out the views on the drive in, then we'd go to Donner Lake for the afternoon. 

The hubby was able to set up a little mobile work station on the coast of the lake (not a rough life, that's for sure) and I decided to get in a few miles. A friend told me the loop around the lake was about 7 miles, so I figured I'd do a lap, check in with the hubby to see how much more work he had to do before deciding whether to head out for longer or not. 

After my first loop I checked in with him and he still had a bit more to do (apparently I run too fast, haha). I figured that instead of an entire loop around the lake, I'd run down to the Donner Memorial State Park to check out the monument and little museum. It wasn't a very big park, but still interesting to check out and read about the history. I was able to get in 11 miles, take in the sights and enjoy the beauty that was all around me (all while the hubby got his work done for the day). 

Once the hubby was done for the day we decided to head over to get in a quick hike. We tackled the Tahoe Rim Trail to Picnic Rock Viewpoint (the complete Tahoe Rim Trail is 170 miles total around the lake, so obviously we weren't going to be able to make a dent in that, especially with a wiener dog in tow, but we could still check out a small portion of it). It was about a 5K, round trip, with some gorgeous views. The smoke was still noticeable, but wasn't too terrible (seemed more like a light haze than smoke, per say). Because we started the hike later in the afternoon, there weren't many people on the trail - maybe 6 or 7 total that we came across. It was a great way to end the day.

Eventually we made it back to the car (although Walt the Wiener Dog loves coming on adventures with us, he isn't the quickest... so the 3 mile hike took us upwards of an hour and a half ;)) and aimed the AdventureMobile in the direction of Truckee and our campground. I'll be honest (hopefully you know you can expect that from me 100% of the time!), the campgrounds were nothing special... most of them are right along the main road, which makes for a less than natural feel when you hear cars driving by 24/7, but it sufficed for what we needed. Oh yeah, and before I forget, you didn't think I'd let the fire bans restrict my s'more enjoyment, did you?! You better believe we used the stove to make a s'more or two ;)

The game plan for Saturday was originally going to be adventure around Tahoe City (on the west side of the lake) and then Incline Village (on the east side of the lake) on Sunday, but the weather looked like it would be better on Sunday so we swapped our "itinerary" so our beach day would have warmer temps and more sun. #FlexibilityIsKeyInAdventuring

When we woke up on Saturday morning we ate some breakfast, walked the pup and then decided to run the Five Lakes Trail near Olympic Village. The trail wasn't super well marked so we took a few detours along the way (just part of the adventure, right?!) but we enjoyed every step. We started early enough so we didn't see very many people until we were on our way back to the truck. The weather was near perfect (in the high 40s/ low 50s), even if it was overcast and cloudy. With our "bonus distance" we were able to add another five and a half miles or so to our weekend mileage. 

{FYI - In case you were curious, the way we trail "run" is by hiking the uphills and running the flats and downhills, while stopping along the route for as many pictures as we'd like. It is important when it comes to trail running (at least for a runner who is normally laser focused on pace, like me) to toss the numbers out the window and just enjoy the journey!}

After getting in our trail run, it was time for a hike with the pup (with the perfect weather, Walt was able to chillax in the AdventureMobile while we were getting our run on). We were able to explore Shirley Trail a bit. There was supposed to be a waterfall, but the riverbed was dry and there wasn't much flowing water. Even still, it was fun to check out the area. 

Seeing as we were in the area where the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run takes place I wanted to check it out. Obviously, as the name mentions, the course is 100 miles (with 18,000 feet of elevation gain!), so I wasn't expecting that we'd run the route, but we were able to see the starting "rock". I doubt I'll ever run the race, but I can dream (and only imagine the buzz of all the amazing trail running energy in Olympic Village around the event).

We also walked around Tahoe City. It's a cute little town. It reminded me of Julian, near us. While there we stopped in a few shops to snag some stickers (I will have to snap a picture of our fridge in the AdventureMobile because we are covering it with stickers from places we've visited) and I even met a IG follower - Brittany! The signs around town were pretty awesome too (even if the doggy one has a grammatical error... I might've been tempted to add an apostrophe...). 

And I can't forget about the PENNY BEARS! Okay, so I know not everyone is interested in roadside attractions like the "World's Largest Frying Pan", but the hubby and I think they're fun so always try to stop. We saw that in Heritage Plaza there were "penny bears". We didn't know what to expect (other than bears made out of pennies, ha), but we were very impressed with what we saw! I guess I figured the pennies would be laying flat, but they were actually on their side and you couldn't tell the HUGE statues were covered by pennies till you got close. Pretty cool if we do say so ourselves ;)

On the way back to the campground we made a pit-stop at Truckee Brewing Co. I don't like beer, but the hubby does, so we popped in so he could get a flight of beers and try the local brews. In case you are a beer aficionado or care, he got the Brut IPA, Truckee IPA, Oatmeal Stout and Double IPA. He liked the Double and Brut most, but said they all were tasty. 

After a day full of adventure we made our way back to the campgrounds to hang out and play some games (we didn't keep score, but we agreed I won ;)). Let's just say the pup was pooped and I was plenty fine enjoying his snuggles!

Since the weather was supposed to be better on Sunday (although, truth be told, it was pretty perfect on Saturday, so we definitely lucked out), we made it our "beach" day. We started the morning by driving over to check out Bonsai Rock in Incline Village. Obviously we took the "less traveled" path (aka we got a little lost and had to do a bit of bushwhacking), but the views were pretty fantastic. We could absolutely see why so many people L-O-V-E Lake Tahoe!

After getting in a little meandering through the rocks and seaside, we decided we'd do a little trail run. We had looked up Flume Trail but apparently when the hubby put it in his phone he selected Incline Flume Trail, which apparently is different - hehe. Not only that, but when we got to the "wrong" trailhead, we went the wrong way on it and ran out of trail within about a mile and found ourselves on a different trail. Oh golly gee... It's all about the adventure, right?! 

We still were able to get in a little over 4 miles and enjoyed every step! I'm so lucky that A. the hubby is good at directions (because even if we were on a different trail than originally anticipated he was able to keep us from getting lost... I, on the other hand, would have a hard time finding my way out of a paper bag...) and B. he's always down for an adventure! 

After eating a quick lunch at the trailhead (like normal, we kept it super simple with tortilla, nut butter and banana wraps and a side of trail mix/ nuts/ chips/ etc... and some hard booch from Local Roots Kombucha ;)), we drove over to the East Shore Trail to get in our doggy walk. We got in about 2.5 miles round trip, with a quick detour at Hidden Beach {but, in case you were wondering, it is not so hidden since it's obviously on all of the maps and tourist information ;)}. 

Somehow the pup "talked" the hubby into letting him hitch a ride for part of the hilly walk back. Thankfully he had already hit his mile (we are currently doing a walk streak for him {and over 750 days!}, where we walk at least one continuous mile at a time every day, so we wouldn't let him "cheat" ;)) when the hubby scooped him up for a bit. #SpoiledPup #DogDad

When we got back to the truck we decided an afternoon at the beach was calling our names, so we put Chimney Beach in the GPS and away we went. (I know, I know, most people recommend Sand Harbor Beach, but they don't allow dogs, plus it costs $10 to get in since it's a state beach, so we opted for the doggy-friendly {and free} alternative and it was great!) We did a bit of hiking down to a little secluded cove and hung out for about an hour or two.

It was a perfectly relaxing way to spend the afternoon. Did you know that Lake Tahoe is actually the second deepest lake in the United States (and tenth in the world)?! With that said, the water is pretty chilly (especially below the surface), so I only got in up to my knees. The hubby did a couple quick dips to cool off and said he's felt colder ;) 

Sunday evening brought a quiet night back at the campsite (since fires are not allowed currently, once the sun goes down we pretty much hang out inside the AdventureMobile {it was in the 30s at night} and end up going to bed shortly after the sun sets). We got most of our stuff packed up after dinner so we'd be ready to leave the next morning and hit the hay. 

Similar to Friday, Monday was a work day for the hubby, so I did the driving on the way home. We left the campground around 7am and stopped in Truckee one last time so I could snap a final picture. The town was still asleep and was pretty chilly (28*), but the scene was so serene. I know this was the first time we've been to the Truckee/ North Lake Tahoe area, but I have a feeling it won't be the last! We barely scratched the surface of the trails to run/ hike and things to see/ do!

Have you ever been to Truckee/ Lake Tahoe?

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