GWL – Over the Sierras & Back to Cali

Day 33 – Washoe Lake  to Tahoe to Sardine Lake

 Beautiful Lake Tahoe

Beautiful Lake Tahoe

We left the Washoe Lake campground early, heading back across the Sierras via Scenic US-50 routing us around beautiful Lake Tahoe. The views were stupendous on this bright, sunny, blue-skied day and we couldn’t resist stopping at Sand Harbor State Park for a quick look-see.

 Sand Point Nature Trail

Sand Point Nature Trail

We walked the short,  boardwalked Sand Point Nature Trail for great views of the lake and interesting interpretive signs. A few Lake Tahoe facts that we weren’t aware of …

  • It’s the 10th deepest lake in the world with a max depth of 1,645’

  • The average elevation of the lake is 6,225’ above sea level

  • The lake covers 191 sq miles

  • Lake Tahoe’s sandy beaches are naturally-occurring, the weathered remains of once-solid granite surrounding mountains.

 The clear blue water is appealing,  but not the water temp. Brrr!

The clear blue water is appealing,  but not the water temp. Brrr!

The water is clear and blue and beautiful, but way too cold for a comfortable dip although we certainly saw several sunbathers and swimmers. The average water temperature in Lake Tahoe in June is 55°F/13°C. Brrr!

It might have been a great place to stay for a few days, but it was already crowded by mid-morning and several busloads of school children arrived during our brief visit.

 Here's where the Ponderosa should be ...

Here's where the Ponderosa should be ...

 but the road was closed. No Ben Cartwright!

but the road was closed. No Ben Cartwright!

We continued on our way with a mandatory check at Incline Village, just in case Ben Cartwright was still at the Ponderosa. Nope … Ponderosa Ranch Road was closed and gated. I guess we won’t find Ben after all.

 Bright yellow mule's ears lined the scenic byway.

Bright yellow mule's ears lined the scenic byway.

Then we were back in California, heading along the Yuba-Donner Scenic Byway. Bright yellow mule’s ears lined the road as we made our way through Tahoe National Forest. We climbed to 6,000’ onto the Gold Lake Highway, a circuitous, particularly steep road with outstanding vista points. The coniferous forests here are thick and healthy-looking … red fir, limber pine, western white pine and hemlock.

 Blue enjoyed the view.

Blue enjoyed the view.

Our destination campground was Sardine Lake ... in which we were certain there were no sardines. The campground was lovely and nearly full, but we snagged one of the two FCFS (first come-first serve) sites with great views of the craggy peaks of the Sierra Buttes.

David chopped wood for the campfire with his new hatchet and at least three people stopped to tell him that he could just buy firewood at Bassett’s Station, about 4 miles down the hill for $8/bundle. One fellow proudly displayed the eight bundles he’d just bought to last him the weekend … 8 bundles/$64 for weekend fires? Yikes … definitely not a Scotsman!

 The Sand Pond Trail afforded us great vistas of the Sierra Buttes.

The Sand Pond Trail afforded us great vistas of the Sierra Buttes.

After briefly exploring the campground, we headed out to the mile-long, interpretive Sand Pond Trail. White-headed woodpeckers rat-a-tat-tatted. Chipmunks and ground squirrels scurried up trees. Jays squawked. Dragonflies darted this way and that.

 This tadpole was morphing into a froglet ... see his hind legs. 

This tadpole was morphing into a froglet ... see his hind legs. 

 Soon he'd join the adult frog community.

Soon he'd join the adult frog community.

At the pond’s edge we saw tadpoles and froglets sitting placidly and patiently in the mud, awaiting their magic transformation into adult frogs. Not far away, a large frog croaked, obviously bragging that he’d already made the transforming journey.

 Part of the trail was packed earth through thick forested areas around a glacial moraine and part was a weathered boardwalk that traversed the marshlands.

Part of the trail was packed earth through thick forested areas around a glacial moraine and part was a weathered boardwalk that traversed the marshlands.

 

We gathered kindling as we walked and each had a fine armful when we returned to camp. All the sites had new picnic tables and fire rings, a welcome amenity. We also had a fresh water tap on site and the vault toilet was just across the way … but not within smell range. The air is fresh and crisp and clean here, smelling of earth and pine. What a fine life this is.

Day 34 – Sometimes lazy is okay

 Pale swallowtail butterfly ... she was lazy, too!

Pale swallowtail butterfly ... she was lazy, too!

The day dawned cloudless and the sky was a clear blue, so bright, it nearly hurt your eyes. Sweet birdsong greeted us this morning. The tall, green pines were a brilliant contrast to the cerulean sky and it looked as if an accomplished artist had created a green palette never before used. Photos cannot do it justice.We sat in the morning quiet taking it all in, sipping our coffee as the sun warmed our backs. We were lazy. We took a short hike, wrote some, read some, chatted some and just passed the time of day in joyful serenity … watching the world go by, oblivious to world happenings or politics … just being.