Shades of Blue: Hiking in Lake Tahoe

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Even a short time in a beautiful place like Lake Tahoe can refresh the spirit–and we packed a lot into our two days there!

We arrived in Tahoe City on a Sunday and took a walk to Commons Beach, where live bands were playing at an outdoor music festival. We dipped our feet in the cool water of Lake Tahoe and listened to great blues music while watching adults, children, and dogs enjoy the beautiful weather. It was party atmosphere, with people picnicking and sampling food and drinks from the many vendors set up at the park–a perfect way to shake off the city cobwebs and relax into the Tahoe vibe.

Our base for our adventures was Basecamp Hotel, a fun place that combines the best of glamping with a convenient in-town location, making it super easy to walk to restaurants, the lake, and hiking trailheads. We especially loved the two outdoor fire pits–the perfect place to roast marshmallows for s’mores or sipping a glass of wine. The hotel even provides cute Coleman coolers to chill your champagne, which we did. Props to my honey for bringing the champagne!

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It was hard to leave Basecamp, but the trails were calling to us, so we put on our sneakers (ok, I put on my sneakers, my husband wore his hiking boots) and headed to the South Rim trailhead, just down the road from our hotel. After a short incline, we reached the rim, which leveled off nicely into a lovely forest trail with, natch, amazing views. The trees kept us cool, even on a hot day, and we we brought plenty of water and snacks to keep us fueled. My husband made fun of the Roltini I brought, but hey, there’s nothing wrong with a mozzarella stick wrapped with prosciutto when you’re hungry!

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But the star of the hike was the sky–the clouds were moving constantly, like a painting creating itself against the blue canvas of the sky. Like this:

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And this:

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We watched until the clouds dissolved and kept hiking to a dramatic outcropping of rocks where we rested and tried not to get vertigo. After our hike, we treated ourselves to a great burger and beer at the Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company. Relaxing on their patio was the perfect ending to our 8 mile trek.

The next day we made fresh waffles for breakfast at Basecamp, then hit the road, for a hike recommended by Lauren, our very friendly and knowledgeable insider at the hotel. The Shirley Lake hike starts at the base of Squaw Valley Mountain, so you get to see what is covered up by all the winter snow, and it’s gorgeous! Not for the faint of heart, the trail is pretty steep, but you are rewarded by the views of waterfalls all along Squaw Creek, affording many places to stop and refresh yourself.

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About a mile or so up the trail, the trees give way to rock, making it tricky to stay on the trail. As one fellow hiker put it, “There’s no wrong way up,” which made us feel better, but the painted trail marks were very comforting to follow. There was very little shade at this elevation, so we stopped for frequent rest and water breaks.

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After more rock scrambling, we made it to Shirley Lake, a lovely alpine, snowmelt filled oasis. Lots of people were taking the plunge, as well as a few intrepid dogs. 🙂

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Hiking up had taken us twice as long as we had thought it would, so we were not looking forward to having to hike back down the steep slope. Luckily, we didn’t have to! During the summer, Squaw Valley opens their peak to visitors, who take a tram up to the top of the ski slope to their pool and restaurant resort. It took us another half hour to hike from Shirley Lake to the tram and pool; we must have looked like straggly hoofers to the families frolicking in the pristine mountainside water. Next time I am definitely bringing my bathing suit.

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The tram saved our weary legs–and gave us a spectacular view going back down the mountain. It was worth every step and I can’t wait to do it again!

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I hope you enjoyed this post–let me know where are your favorite places to hike?

Little Dog In The Rainy Forest: Magic In the City

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The drought has been long and taken its toll on our backyard, which has gone completely brown. We were longing for some respite from the recent heatwave, so we headed over to Mount Davidson Park, an oasis nestled in the middle of the Miraloma neighborhood not far from its more famous neighbor, Twin Peaks.

Here the streets are windy and narrow. We parked on Myra Way and walked to the trailhead behind the bus stop near Dalewood Ave. The mountain seemed to generate its own weather, making it feel like we were in the Santa Cruz Mountains, instead of the middle of San Francisco. Fog kissed our cheeks.

We started off walking a bit of an incline through pines and eucalyptus, then wound our way around the east side of the hill, which came out of the trees and into a rockier terrain. Soon enough we were back in the forest where the fog was so thick the condensation off the leaves was like rain dripping. A very welcome sound in the middle of the drought. The eucalyptus were lush, and there were even ferns, blackberry bushes, wild strawberry plants, and moss all along the trail.

Climbing a woodsy set of steps, we came to Mt. Davidson’s iconic cross, the place where Clint Eastwood, as Dirty Harry, tracks down his nemesis, Scorpio. Then on to the overlook, which, on a clear day offers spectacular views of the City. People were taking pictures of the Cross and one intrepid couple was doing a fashion photoshoot with a dramatically austere tree at the cliff’s edge.

After letting Lola sniff to her heart’s content, we traversed the trails on the southern side of the mountain back to our car, all of us thoroughly refreshed for our short journey back to the sunny City. But it’s nice to know where we can always find “rain”!

For more information and directions to Mount Davidson Park, click on the links in the post.

Enjoy!

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The sun shining through overcast skies made the grassy land look like a sepia photograph.

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The hub, Lola and I soaked up the mist against our skin.

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The Cross has been called a controversial symbol as well as an historic landmark.

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Which way to go? Up the steps!

Little Dog Under a Big Sky: Walking With the Wind

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Lola wanted to check out the massive Seal Point Dog Park in San Mateo, so the hub and I headed down the Bay side of the Bay Area–and found a fantastic hike to go with it. This made us all very happy.

The walk from Seal Point Park to Coyote Park Recreation Area is easy and curves around an estuary, making for some cool changes of scenery. As we walked, we could watch planes flying in the blue skies and above and beyond that, the clouds were absolutely gorgeous.

It’s a view that we never see from our car on the 101 freeway, nor the other ways we usually travel around the Bay–either on the bridges (more cars) or BART, which goes under the Bay, or as far at the SFO airport, but not really beside the Bay.

Even more strange and delightful is the Wind Art Walk, which includes several whimsical sculptures that channel the energy of the wind. We could feel the wind of course–and now we could see it and hear it too.

We watched the planes landing at SFO, kitesurfers on the Bay, and Lola even got to go the the biggest dog park I’ve ever seen, the Seal Point Dog Park. Very dusty (almost like being Matt Damon in “The Martian”), but she liked it a lot.

Click on the links in the article for more information and directions to Seal Point Park!

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A tree of whirling birds.

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You can stand between the two discs and hear yourself in stereo sound!

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The spiky sculpture is a wind organ for playing music.

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Lola heads for the City.

The Magic of Half Moon Bay

Took the boo and the hub hiking last week–I always feel refreshed after a good forest bath. We found this trail that goes by the old Burleigh Ranch. You can see the barn (which looks like people have been camping in it) and a couple of outbuildings overgrown with old branches and vines. We found thistles in bloom and even better, in decay, becoming stars.

Even the name, Half Moon Bay, is magical. Lola enjoyed it too; found plenty of stinky things to sniff and a little shade to sit in on a hot day.

The end of a perfect outing? Going to Barbara’s Fishtrap and eating crab sandwiches on the beach as the sun set. Lola even got a few of my french fries. . .

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A cool glade appeared before us just when we needed it. More magic!

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Think it’s haunted?

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Thistles in bloom.

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Thistle stars.

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Barn rising into trees.