In the summer, this place is packed. The Vikingsholm parking lot is overloaded with cars on top of the $10 usage fee that goes to the state parks. What about in the fall, on a Tuesday, at 5 PM? The parking lot is empty.
I don’t mind the $10. It’s actually complementary with the California State Park Poppy Pass. For 125 bucks you are allotted free admission to all state parks. This one included. I’d been contemplating walking down to the water at the Vikingsholm Castle or up to Eagle Falls. Both are good hikes to get the blood moving, especially at altitude.
I decided to go down to Vikingsholm as I wanted to see the water. I think in the whole hike I only saw two other people the hour I was there. That’s completely unheard of in the summer. The cool of the day was beginning to insert its fingers into the warmth provided by the sun. The trees were beginning the full blast of color brought about by shortening days in the upcoming winter.
I’m just continually reminded how beautiful this place is. It’s not without its problems or its sacrifices but in many ways, it feels more authentic. Lake Tahoe has four very unapologetic seasons. Fall is my favorite with its vibrant color and generally warm(ish) days. The tourists stay away as the kids are in school. Spring is likely my second favorite with high snowcapped mountains. The summers up here are wonderful. Long days that are warm provide ample opportunity for hiking, swimming, and fully being in the mountains. The problem is everybody else wants to be here too. To be honest, I’m really not sure about winter. I’ve never lived in a cold weather climate and seeing day after day after day of snow isn’t necessarily high on my priority list.
Growing up as a kid my parents listened to a lot of Jimmy Buffett as we go down to the beach in Northwest Florida. There is a song called When the Coast is Clear talking about Florida closing down for the season. I never got to see Florida in the fall until later in college and the song completely clicked. Many of the campgrounds, beaches, and other summertime recreational facilities are closed. Signs are covered with fabric noting “Closed for Season.” Mostly what’s left is hiking out in the woods.
I can remember moving out here being surprised that Rhodes actually closed for the winter. Coming from the South, that was such a foreign concept as snow barely lasts a couple of days. It did seem though, everywhere I looked there were gentle signs that winter truly was coming. It was this mix mash of good weather but seeing all the places you’d like to go closing down for the season. The water though is still intoxicatingly beautiful. It’s one of the things I truly love about this area.
At the bottom of the trail near the Vikingsholm I did see a tree with buck teeth. That’s not something you see every day! I laughed and started my way back up before the cool evening took control of the warm day I had left.
Dry skies generally make for uneventful sunsets – and today was no exception. While I always enjoy the ritual of seeing the sunrise and set, clouds always make it more fun. But alas, it’s time to keep moving as evening calls me home.