I didn’t expect to spend last week in the Sierra Nevada, hiking through forests spattered with snow and wandering the beaches of Lake Tahoe in 20-degree sunshine... but that’s what happened.
Mo’s friend Gary has a condo up here and a three hour drive brought us into a land of snowcapped mountains and dense forests and this shimmering lake, 22 miles long and 12 miles wide, filled with enough water to spill over the whole of California to a one-foot depth. It's a "young" lake, glacially carved about ten million years ago, but long known to the Washoe Indians who came here to fish, hunt, and spiritually commune with these crystal-clear waters. Then in 1844 it was 'discovered' by a senator named John C Frémont and within a decade became a tourist mecca, serviced by railroad and steamboat even before the roads were cut through, and by the 1960s the forests were riddled with condos and burger bars.
But the beauty of the lake is transcendent, and with a shoreline of 72 miles even that urban assault hasn't ruined it all: we walked for miles along fabulous trails through scented forests of incense cedar and Jefferson pines with cones as big as sheep skulls, seeing jays and woodpeckers, golden-mantled ground squirrels and masses of other wildlife - not actually any bears, though this is bear country. The Steller jays are ubiquitous, and came each morning to the condo balcony demanding breakfast. The beaches are lovely too ~ we found Tahoe City by far the nicest resort: if you ever go there, head for Dockside 700 for a great meal as you watch at dusk while the lake melts from indigo to silver and the white-crusted mountains flush under the setting sun.