Friday, July 3, 2009

Emerald Bay on Independence Day Weekend 2009

It is called the Jewel of Lake Tahoe.

Looking down from the curved mountain road, our eyes caught the deep blue-green waters shimmering in the sunlight hundreds of feet below.

Along with thousands of other San Franciscans we were using this year's long weekend of Independence Day for the opportunity to travel away from the city - see previous blogs.

Winding our way on Friday morning around the picturesque edges of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains, we took in glimpses of the lake between the firs and wood cabins.

But of all the beautiful places around the lake with its some 70 miles of shoreline, it seems nature has held sway. Originally named Eagle Bay after the bald eagles, the sheer magnificent beauty and deep colours caused it to be renamed Emerald Bay, and so to become the Jewel of Lake Tahoe.

The bay is accessed via the Emerald Bay State Park, a camping and trail area on the mountains. There we set out on the Rubicon Trail to begin a fairly gentle descent on the narrow path, all the while able to watch the sparkling waters below.

It was an idyllic morning, temperatures climbing comfortably into the seventies with just a touch of a lakeside breeze.

One of the lake's paddle steamers sailed past and plenty of small craft were bobbing around.

The Rubicon Trail is 1.7 miles and leads down to the shore to Vikingsholm, a unique historic mansion built partly in the style of Scandinavian churches and castles and famed for being one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the western hemisphere.

At the head of the bay near Vikingsholm is Fannette Island, no more than a large deserted granite rock, that once hosted a 'Tea House' for the family of Vikingsholm.

What is so attractive about the trail is that it runs across the mountainside so that it is easily manageable for reasonably fit adults and older children. Time is approximately 30 to 40 mins each way, and can be done in less.

***As we returned to the top and headed back to San Francisco, the realities of the Independence Day weekend were no doubt dawning for the thousands of city dwellers who were only beginning their travels.

Driving away from Lake Tahoe and towards Sacramento, the queues of traffic that we passed heading for the lake were immense. Cars were almost stationary for long, long stretches. Then as we neared Sacramento, police cars and fire trucks had stopped all traffic and were dealing with the remnants of a van that had burned out on the edge of the road.

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