While still in Yosemite, we see alarming reports online, telling us that snow tyres are required for driving around Lake Tahoe. We know that the Tioga Pass is closed: it is too early in the season to drive over it. Are we now obliged to buy snow chains for our planned visit of Lake Tahoe? Fortunately, an update of the conditions tells us that chains are no longer compulsory, so we set off for a splendid drive through the Californian countryside. The weather seems spring-like, but when we get closer to Lake Tahoe, we drive through a snow-storm over a mountain pass. By the time we arrive at South Lake Tahoe, it feels like spring again, and there is only melting stacks of snow left in the gardens. What follows are a few days in which we drive around the lake, clockwise, to facilitate getting off regularly for the many viewpoints. With every twist and turn in the road, the views change, giving always yet another excuse for a break.
After an early morning rise, I explore the southern east side of Lake Tahoe, driving up to the crossroads past Glenbrook, and return, making several stops at viewpoints. It is a bright day, and the sun makes the snow-capped mountains of the western side reflect in the quiet surface of the lake. I stop at Nevada beach, a wide stretch of sand with some big trees on it, and tiny waves lapping on the shore. This must be packed in summer; right now, the only other person is an older lady going for her morning run. After picking up my travel companion again, we continue towards the west. We hike up to a viewpoint above Emerald Bay, and soon find ourselves work our way through snow to some boulders from which we can see Fannette Island, the bay, and the southern part of Lake Tahoe below us. Skiers pass us, reminding us it is still more skiing season than hiking season.
Driving further north, we get always changing views of the lake, and now see the mountains on the east side reflected in the waters of Lake Tahoe. We make a small detour to Squaw Valley, the Olympic venue of the Winter Games of 1960, and are tempted to rent skis and hit the slopes, but decide to continue our exploration of the largest alpine lake of North America - and its fifth deepest. When we arrive at the northern shore, I skinny dip into the icy waters, and am happy with the sun warming me up afterwards. The next day, we cross in to Nevada and visit Incline Beach, before driving up the mountain highway for a viewpoint from which the enormous lake lies at our feet. We then continue driving south on the eastern side, stopping regularly to climb down to rocks and boulders, and small beaches, always with incredibly transparent, calm waters in which we can see every little pebble on the floor of the lake. It is inevitable we dip in; again, a very short dip! We hike around Spooner Lake, a trail still partially covered in snow. Before we complete our tour of Lake Tahoe, we watch the sun sink behind the mountains on the west side of the lake at a viewpoint. The sky turns from orange to grey and black while we drive the last stretch to South Lake Tahoe.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Lake Tahoe (U.S.A.). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Lake Tahoe.
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