Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bike Paths and Lake Tahoe, October 13

We woke up at Spencer's house around 7 and made some breakfast: oatmeal for Tam and eggs, six of them, for me.  After packing up and saying our goodbyes to Spencer and his roommates, we headed out, somewhat unwillingly, into the frigid morning.  We struggled to warm up; fortunately some hills helped us out! After a little while we hopped on a bike path paralleling the road, and that took us to the west shore of Lake Tahoe.  
With big mountains lining the horizon and the lake itself sprawling blue in front of us, I could understand why this area is so popular for skiing and vacationing.  The scenic bike path paralleled the road and the lake shore for a number of miles, finally ending a few miles before Emerald Bay, a picturesque inlet with an island. We climbed a long, steep hill to get there, and the views of the lake and the bay were amazing.  We stopped for lunch in a scenic, touristy area, and were much entertained by the tourists among us. Only a few amid the throngs took the time to enjoy the view in real life rather than through the screen of a camera.  I am definitely guilty of this, too, but it's funny to see it in others.

After lunch and a short climb out of Emerald Bay, we descended some steep switchbacks and found another bike path.  The south shore of the lake has a lot of beaches, but we couldn't see the lake anymore from the road.  Trees lined our path now.  And stores, as we reached the more populated areas.  We ran into a health food store and picked up some bulk items: dehydrated bean soups, chocolate, and enough couscous to last us for a month or so. 
Away from Tahoe we now headed on highway 89.  Lo and behold, another bike path!  The traffic wasn't terrible, and the shoulder had been decent, but a nice path just for us is always appreciated!  This one ended soon, however.  A few more miles in, we began to climb the dreaded Luther Pass.  At 7,740 feet, it would be a 1,500-foot vertical climb from the lake.  Impending darkness was a good motivator, so we powered up it and reached the top in no time.  Aspens and other turning deciduous trees added some color to our scenery, and streaks of clouds lay stationary among the bluest of blue skies.  We were really in the Sierras now, the Range of Light!
Our descent from the pass was over quickly at almost 40 mph, and we stopped in a campground for the night.  It's our favorite kind of campground: the closed-for-the-season kind.  You can't get a car past the gate, but bikes are no problem!  No obnoxious camping neophytes to attract bears or disturb us, and no exorbitant fees to pay.

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