To Lake Tahoe and a Better Beyond
I left Jackson on a perfect Californian day, sunny and hot with not a cloud up above. Assured that the real reason causing the motorcycle issues was finally resolved, and also extremely eager to be back on the road, I was naturally in high spirits with each additional mile behind me. The plan was to ride up to Lake Tahoe and than decide whether to continue on or stay put for the day. So up the Carson Pass via highway 88 I went, climbing higher in altitude and further away from the urban chaos that had held me captive for almost a week.
It was great to be back into the mountains, and both Pegasus and I enjoyed the cooler air up there. The roar of the engine running strong again and the sight of the small lakes and valleys was exactly what I was needing.
I was surprised to find a bustling town when I reached South Lake Tahoe. I am not sure why this came as a surprise to me being that the place is absolutely stunning, but it had a different feeling about it - there was not as much privacy as I had expected. The southern lakefront is mainly hidden by woods through which bike paths wind packed with runners and young families on bicycles. I immediately realized that the commercial Lake Tahoe would not offer the chance to set up a tent right on the shore as I had envisioned so I decided to make use of the daylight and continue on.
After grabbing lunch at a local Subway I continued up the west side following 89 around the stunning Emerald Bay which was being fed by a waterfall created by the melting snow from the surrounding peaks. In the bay numerous white boats glittered lazily in the sun. I continued north via the beautiful West Lake Road which rises high above the water and offers incredible views of the lake and surrounding peaks. Just before I reached Tahoe City, I decided that I absolutely had to take a dip, even if for a minute. I simply could not allow myself to leave without truly experiencing the clear lake. Sleepiness and fatigue gave me a second reason to pull over and take a break. I found a small beach on Hurricane Bay right next to the road and I eagerly stripped down to my favorite red swimming shorts bough for $2 in Brazil, ran over the rounded pebbles and dove into the crystal clear water as if something was chasing me. Much to my surprise, it was ridiculously cold - maybe not ridiculously cold but seriously colder than what I had expected.
I swam back and forth a few times until sufficiently jolly and than decided to move on, the cold water successfully having cured my sleepiness at least for a few hours. Above me the skies were clear, but a major storm was brewing across the big lake in neighboring Utah, and I had no wish to wait for it to catch up. So I said goodbye to Lake Tahoe and continued on 89 northwest bound for as long as the daylight would allow.
Hours of riding later through the endless windings of the lonely Californian highway and I had finally arrived to Almanor Lake, with high hopes of finding a quiet little corner of the lake to call my own for the night. The lake is beautiful, with a few campgrounds along the road and some residential houses in between, but largely quiet and unpopulated, exactly what I was looking for. I still had a decent amount of daylight left so I took my time looking for the perfect spot to pitch a tent, just like I had envisioned in my mind. I actually found a new campground at the northern tip of Almanor Drive that was in its early stages of construction with nothing but outhouses and paved slots for RV's, and much to my surprise a few spouts with running water. So I sat down on one of the new benches, prepared a meal in my little mess kit, washed the dishes after that, took a "shower" and continued for the search of "the perfect" camping spot.
With dusk now approaching I decided to go a little off trail following a bike path that slithered right next to the lake, a stone throws away from the water. Thanks to Pegasus that can do it all, I finally found a quiet clearing in the evergreen forest, very near a newly constructed dock and boat launch, and also a very nice restroom with running water which is always something to look for when choosing a camp spot. I pitched my tent between three tall trees and some bushes, on the soft bed of brown pine needles, only feet away from the shore. I than walked over to the peer, sat down with my feet in the water, laid back on my forearms and enjoyed the moment as the tired sun slowly fell behind the peaks in the distance. With a full belly, and a great days riding behind me I tucked into my sleeping bag completely content, letting the serene whispers of the calm tide put me to sleep.
I woke up early along with the sun, fully rested and blessed with another beautiful morning. I took my time not really in any particular rush to leave, and even debating spending another day there, just fishing away and enjoying the wonderful lake. Nonetheless, I decided it would be best to push on due to the fact that California had selfishly taken up many more days than I had originally planed to devote to her.
All packed up, I rode directly on the beach about a minute away where I prepared breakfast on a bench whose two legs were already a few inches in the water. I prepared a bowl of oatmeal, something that I had started to eat regularly thanks to my couch-surfing friend Chris from Atlanta who was the first to introduce me to it, and than I took about an hour to stretch, have a decent workout of push-ups, sit-ups, dips and pull-ups from a tree branch, all followed by an amazing swim in the lake - The water temperature was just perfect; absolutely perfect, and I couldn't have imagined a better start to the day.
And so, on westward towards the Atlantic I set off.