Rubicon Point (Lake Tahoe, California) 17-Aug-2020

Wayne and Diane have been our best friends for decades (yes, we’re that old). Recently, we’ve tried to do an annual trip with them – like last year’s epic raft trip on the Green and Colorado Rivers. We had similar plans for this year which, for reasons now obvious to most people, couldn’t be realized. So, as they say, when life hands you lemons, mix another martini (or something like that). So, after some back and forth, we decided to rent a cabin at Lake Tahoe, California for a few days. This spot was chosen because we could each drive there directly, interacting only with gas pumps along the way. We’d remain self-contained in the cabin, venturing out only for some hikes. This way we’d accept the low risk of maybe giving each other the Big V but, if so, wouldn’t contribute to spreading it. And so it was. Considering the number of maskless and socially interacting people we saw crowding around the lake, our isolation seemed more about protecting ourselves from them rather than them from us. 🙄 Nonetheless, until the arrival of massive clouds of smoke from wildfires elsewhere in California, we did get to do three decent hikes.

Our first hike was from Emerald Bay toward Rubicon Point on the Vikingsholm and Rubicon Trails. We decided to start with these easy trails because they offer great views of the bay and the lake and would give us a chance to acclimate to Tahoe’s 6,000 foot (1,830 m) elevation. Wayne’s back was giving him issues 😥 so it was just The LovedOne, Diane, and I that ventured out on this and our other day hikes. These trails are hugely popular but we figured that the Big V would have done something to thin the crowds. We were so totally wrong about that.

We started early in the morning from the Vikingsholm Overlook parking lot (which was half full then) and had the trails pretty much to ourselves until we got within about a mile of Rubicon Point. Then lots of folks appeared. Fortunately, almost everyone we encountered was doing their best to mask and/or be socially distant. And there was a steady breeze off the lake. These people were coming from the campgrounds and parking lots near Rubicon Point (all of which, we would later learn, were full) and there seemed to be no end to them. So, short of the point, we had a snack and headed back.

Descending the Vikingsholm Trail
A giant California root borer beetle on the restroom wall
A giant old-growth Ponderosa along the Rubicon Trail
Emerald Bay, with Maggies Peaks in the distance
On the Rubicon Trail
The amazingly clear waters of Emerald Bay
On the Rubicon Trail above Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe from the Rubicon Trail, with only a light smoke haze
The green and turquoise waters of Lake Tahoe
Back along the Rubicon Trail
Lake Tahoe

We got back (after 7.5 miles round-trip) to the Vikingsholm parking lot to find it full, with a line of waiting cars stretching out along Highway 89. We had just reached our car when a woman rushed up to claim our not-yet-vacated spot and then phoned her partner to jump the line and come on in. Wow! If the Big V had quelled anyone’s interest in visiting Lake Tahoe, it was not at all evident by the circus we encountered at this one parking lot. After maneuvering our way out of the lot to the highway, we went directly back to the cabin and spent the rest of the day on its porch isolating and engaging in beer therapy. 🙂

Our shortened hike on the Rubicon Trail
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2 comments

  1. The beetle is most likely a California root borer beetle, Prionus californicus. Also known as giant root borer beetle. They can range in size from 24mm to 57mm and are found in all western states– though this was the first time I had seen one. 🙂

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