The Climb to Eagle Lake

APC_1953Getting to Tahoe has been a journey. At first, I thought I wanted to live alone and rent an Airbnb. However, I’m so glad I rented a room from friends I know up here. I didn’t know if I was going to have much time both during the day and collectively throughout my entire stay up here to meet people. It turns out my prediction on time management was right, but not for the reasons I thought. In general, evenings and weekends are free much like back at home. The problem is the people easiest to hang out with are 40 minutes away in Carson City or 90 minutes away in Reno. It doesn’t make much sense to stay out on a Tuesday night in Reno if you’re spending three hours commuting.

Todd and I crossed paths online and have had dinner a few times on the weekend. We decided to do something different and took a hike out in the mountains. I suggested do the hike up to see Eagle Falls. Normally in the summer on the weekends the parking lot is so packed it’s barely worth going to Emerald Bay much less actually getting a spot to go hiking. That’s what’s great about Sundays in the late afternoon in the fall. We easily got a spot on the street!

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The hike to Vikingsholm starts on Highway 89 and descends what I would guess to be about 1000 feet down to the shore of Emerald Bay. The Eagle Lake hike climbs from Highway 89 well into the Sierras. The first major stop is Eagle Falls – an easy stroll from the parking lot. The water in the river was just over a trickle which is not surprising being late October. In just a month or two, this whole area will be covered in snow. In another few months, the snow will melt in the river will be roaring with water again. It’s amazing the difference the fall trickle and the spring flush.

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It felt good to hike. I love walking around in the mountains feeling my heartbeat and soaking in the fresh air. Now in my fourth week in the Sierras, I’m finally adjusting to living at altitude. The fresh air has been good for the soul. The fires back home have made me realize my own vulnerability. It’s the first time a natural disaster has actually affected me in any focused way. I’ve been very fortunate in that regard. Seeing and breathing the smoke in and knowing that there are people’s lives and livelihood wrapped up in that smoke has been hard. The area that burned is not unlike the area I live in.  Its really hitting home.

We continued hiking deeper into the mountains up to the permit required sign. At this point both of our hearts are fully beating from the altitude in the climb. What really surprised me was Todd’s dog was keeping up with us. He’s got a small Jack Russell (I think?) that’s got an amazing amount of energy – especially for being 8. At about the 30-minute mark, the forest opens up to a beautiful view of Emerald Bay. The view is similar to being down in the parking lot, but it’s like looking through a wide-angle lens.  Emerald Bay shrinks to a small pond amongst the large mountainscape. The warm sun was wonderful. It’s probably the first time I’ve been truly warm since I got here.

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Todd and I decided we’d keep heading into the mountains. I wasn’t sure what was ahead, but I figured, it had to be good. I mean, it’s the mountains, right? We continued to climb and then it hit me, Eagle Lake! I came here some time ago on the motorcycle exploring in the fall. History definitely repeats itself :).

High alpine lakes just do it for me.  I love swimming in the cool, clear waters and looking up seeing the pine trees, the mountains around, and the blue sky above.  It was much too cold for swimming this trip, but I’m looking forward to next summer already.  Woot woot!

APC_1960-Pano.jpgI remember in Austrailia this inverse bell curve reflecting how much I was a tourist vs more of a local. When I got to Tahoe all I wanted to do was explore. After the first 10 days, I began to mellow out. It was feeling like a place I lived vs a place I’m visiting. Now it’s three days before I head down the mountain for a while. I’m feeling that pressure to explore. I want to soak each minute up and have that rich mountaintop experience. I know I’ll be back. I’m not sure how or when, but I’ll be back sometime.

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