For years I’ve been hearing about Lake Tahoe as an amazing destination for the adventurer.
It started when I was passionate about snowboarding, and all the films I’d watch would show my hero’s riding deep snow in the mountains that surround the lake. I come from a resort town, with a good portion of my youth being spent just outside of Vail, Colorado. So I know how these adventure destinations can be. Famous for their winters, but far more interesting in the summer. Visiting a resort town can present it’s difficulties however, with tourism driving the costs of visiting higher by the year.
The greatest adventures that we plan for are rarely costly, and always require a bit of flexibility on our part to make them happen. Finally after years of wanting to visit, I decided to simply get in my car and head north, finding where I’d camp once I arrived. I had two weeks open up, and a solid group of friends equally excited to explore Tahoe.
When the time is available, I believe we must take advantage of it, even when we aren’t sure how exactly it will all play out. The plan might have to change a little to account for reality, but time in nature, time outside of our comfort zone, and time in new and exciting places are what make us feel like we’re alive. The memories we create in those moments are the ones that stand out.
I had driven through the day to reach Tahoe, and finally was getting close around 1am, I was too tired to make it to the campsite I’d researched, but the route I was on didn’t have cell service for the last few hours so I was having trouble finding a place to stop. When I finally had a few bars I pulled over and started looking at a satellite view of the area in search of dirt roads heading off into the wilderness.
I intended to sleep in the truck and find a new spot closer to the lake in the morning, but somehow had ended up in a perfect campsite. I was a half hour from the lake itself, but I woke up in a field surrounded by enormous old growth trees. A stream gurgled through the campsite, and only a few minutes away was one of the best climbing areas in Northern California. It wasn’t as close to the lake as I would have liked, but I ended up deciding to stay put for the rest of the trip.
Had I rented a hotel I may have only stayed a few days, but it took more than a few days just to find the hidden gems that make a place like Tahoe really special. Sure, a hot shower would have been nice, but the feeling of jumping into a wild, cold stream in the morning was far more exciting, and far more memorable. I even went by my reserved campsite to check it out and was really glad I hadn’t made it there on the first night. It was faux camping, with the sites smashed together.
Being willing to alter my plan had led to the perfect experience. I was in a wild campsite where my friends could filter in and out over the next week. I had easy access to everything I wanted to do, and yet the site was remote enough to feel like I wasn’t part of the masses. That weekend when the lake was overflowing with people, we stayed higher up in the mountains away from the crowds. During the week, we went down to the lake and paddle boarded along the boulder strewn lake shore.
I’ve found that one of the greatest limiting factors to adventure is the level of comfort that you’re willing to put up with. If you can stay clean, comfortable, organized, if you sleep well, and eat well, there’s no motivation to get home for a shower and a hot meal.
In the end, even after all my friends had left and I was camping alone, I didn’t want to leave. I extended my stay in Tahoe another 3 days just to enjoy some time in nature alone.
Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):
Returing to the Fjords of Southeast Alaska
Road Trip California: Take a Coastal Drive Up Highway 1
Stepping Away from the Camera for the Northern Lights