This was the last full moon hike of the season that was offered by the tour company and we feel really privileged and fortunate to have gotten this experience. Our last half of the walk was in pure full moonlight and the clouds pushed away and the stars shone brightly as well. We really enjoyed this experience and can't wait for another chance to snowshoe. Just to keep things in perspective and show that not everything always goes our way, while we were having this great snowshoe experience, the Nashville Predators were going down to the Anaheim Ducks in the Game 2 of the first round of the NHL Playoffs by a score of 5-3 and so did the money we had put on them at one of the state-line casinos that afternoon. Oh well, you can't have everything.
We got back to our room and were pretty tuckered out from the snowshoe trek. We warmed up the last two slices of Zpizza and called it a night. What a great first day in Tahoe! Saturday, April 16, 2011We slept in a bit this morning and let the temps warm up outside as the sun finally crept up over Monument Peak looming some 3,000 feet above our hotel and into the valley that holds Lake Tahoe. We headed southwest this time around the lake with two waterfalls as our targets to visit. Our first stop along the winding Hwy. 89 that twists and turns high above the lake (with a noticeable lack of guardrails in many places!) was Emerald Bay. This large crescent-shaped inlet with it's own little island (Fannette Island) nestled in the middle of the bay is so exquisite that it doesn't even look real. Despite it being mid-April and the temps moving easily into the 60's by 10 AM, the amount of snow still clinging to the steep ridges dropping to the lake was tremendous. At times were were driving through snowbanks at least twice as tall as the car. As we turned into the entrance for Emerald Bay State Park, we got our first bit of bad news. "ROAD AND PARK CLOSED." Bummer. We were a couple weeks too early for access to the park and the trail to Eagle Falls. We headed down the road a bit for our second option, Glen Alpine Falls, at the far end of Fallen Leaf Lake. The road to get to it is very small and we figured it would be closed as well, but we kept going and were greeted with a completely cleared road. We took our time not only because the road was narrow and curvy, but because the views were amazing. Fallen Leaf Lake is pristine and the cabins and bungalows surrounding it are very nice without being over the top. This would be a great place to come back and rent a place for a week or so in the summer. When we got to the south end of the lake and the main road ended, we knew we were close, but there were no indications where exactly the falls were. There was supposed to be easy access from a small forest road and while we saw the sign for the road, we did not see the road itself. That's because it was under about 6 feet of snow! A friendly local gentleman told us that it was only a 10 minute walk up the "road" to the falls from where we were parked. Maybe we should have rented snow shoes for the day? He assured us it was packed down pretty well and should be too hard to get there. The snow was packed down fairly well and after a bit of slipping and sliding, we made it to the overlook of Glen Alpine Falls which was roaring with snow melt run-off. What a beautiful place and so worth the effort! We were able to experience this beautiful place with no one else around or a beautiful sunny morning. We again felt very privileged and fortunate in terms of timing.
We headed back to South Lake Tahoe and parked at our hotel. We were starving for lunch by now and decided to walk a mile back the way we had just come to The Brewery at Lake Tahoe for lunch. We intended to have a big lunch and we were definitely sampling some brews, so the walk was planned and necessary. The food was tremendous (best chili dog ever according to Ashlee) and the beer was top-notch. We each had a sampler paddle of their 9 available beers with their American Pale Ale and their Brown Ale being our favorites. The walk back was slow, but, again, necessary in terms of calories consumed and the effects of 45 ounces of beer on each of us. We contemplated renting snow shoes and perhaps going back to the entrance of Emerald Bay State Park and trying to get to Eagle Falls on foot, but the afternoon was bleeding away and we weren't sure we could get it done before darkness set in. We opted instead to walk across the street (after a bit of rest in the room) and take a ride on the Heavenly Gondola which whisks you up to the top of Monument Peak to a tremendous overlook and then on to snow-sport central at the heart of Heavenly Ski Resort, the largest in the area. The cost for the gondola is as steep as the grade it takes you up and the fact we had done something similar in Switzerland a few years back perhaps made us a bit skeptical of it, but overall it was a nice experience. We got a private gondola going up and the first-stop overlook is tremendous. The second stop, the entrance to the ski, snowboard and tubing trails was as busy as Times Square with people going in all directions to the numerous different trails offered. We stopped in a very cool outdoor bar for another beer ($8 a bottle! High altitude, high prices??) and enjoyed people watching for a while before taking the ride back down with a few other folks. We took another short drive as the sun was starting to set over to the Cave Rock Boat Ramp where we could get down close to the waters of Lake Tahoe. We couldn't resist taking our shoes and socks off and dipping our feet in the cold, cold water. After about 20 seconds your feet would start to turn blue, so, yeah, it was really cold. We got back to the room and rested up a bit and decided to stick with the theme of the day in terms of eating (and drinking) and walked north a quarter-mile or so to Stateline Restaurant and Brewery for dinner. This brewery is a little fancier than the one we went to earlier in the day, but the food was very good. We slowed down on the beer consumption with just a half-pint ordered for each of us. Another great day in Lake Tahoe. We hated the thought of having to leave this beautiful place tomorrow.