We’d both been talking about going hiking for a while. I decided today was as good as any, and when I came in after my morning routine (3 mile bike ride with Timber plus a 30 minute workout), I told Jonathan I was going hiking today. He thought it sounded like a good idea too and decided to come along. I’m always thrilled when he’s ready to come along on my adventures!
The Painted Desert Trail looked like an interesting hike that wasn’t too far away. This allowed time to enjoy our usual morning, and then pack a lunch before heading out. We drove through a cloud of pouring rain on the drive up, but it hadn’t rained at our destination. We ate lunch on some rocks by the trailhead before starting our hike.
It’s always fascinating to me how quickly the landscape changes when you drive through Arizona. This hike is only about 45 minutes from where we are living in the bare desert.
This was Timber’s first time out on a real hike! We recently started letting him roam off leash when we take him out in the desert. So far he is behaving very well, and obviously has no desire to run away. So that’s progress for sure and makes exercising him much more enjoyable. Here’s a little video from the first time I let him off leash on our morning bike ride.
The dramatic clouds in the sky made for some very enjoyable scenery. Timber enjoyed his time off leash, but I think his paws got pretty sore from scrambling over so many jagged rocks. I’ll have to get him some hiking boots and his own day pack for future hikes!
Jonathan and I enjoyed being out in nature. There was a lot of color on display, even without the help of plants or flowers. We saw a few neat rock formations and found pieces of jasper and quartz rock.
I’ve been waiting over 10 years to get a dog. I always thought I would wait until we could buy land out in the country before I got a dog. But as time went on, and the years kept going by, I wanted my dog more and more! Dogs have always been country living animals in my mind, so it was hard for me to wrap my mind around the concept of owning a dog in the city. As I thought it through very carefully, I concluded that I still wanted a dog and knew I had time to give the dog a happy life in town. And so the shopping began.
I was sure I wanted to raise my new dog as a very young puppy. I was hunting for a puppy less than 12 weeks old. But I was very, and I mean VERY, particular! It had to be cute, I thought I wanted a male, and I thought I wanted a mix rather than purebred. The more I shopped, the reality of raising a little itty bitty puppy set in. NIGHTMARE. Way too much time commitment. Crying all night. I don’t have to explain! Everyone knows the challenges of raising a puppy right from the start. I started to consider skipping several months of that headache by buying a teenage puppy instead. Young enough to train, but old enough to be mature sooner rather than later. Of course this comes with new challenges…possibilities of bad habits from the previous owner, etc. But after weighing out my options, I decided this was best for my situation.
We had talked many times about getting a German Shepherd Dog. I also considered a Red Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog) or a mix of the two breeds. The German Shepherd is everything I want in a dog: loyal, very smart, easy to train, protective, and a great hiking buddy. I read and read article after article about the breed, the challenges that come with these dogs, and things to know before bringing one home. I was still convinced the German Shepherd was what I wanted in a dog.
I finally found a 10 month old German Shepherd that was looking for a new home. Jonathan and I went to meet the dog that evening. I asked my friends who owned dogs what kinds of questions I should ask and what I should be looking for. This black and red male German Shepherd was gorgeous, very calm, and you could see the intelligence in his face. After asking all the questions I could think of, looking over his pedigree, and falling in love with his fuzzy teddy bear ears, I told the owner I needed to think about it over night and I would let him know my answer in the morning.
Long story short, I decided to bring my German Shepherd home the next morning. After a few very stressful days, and sleepless nights, we got through the transition of bringing a new pet home and I began a serious training routine for my new pal.
I don’t like to name my animals too fast. I like to get to know their personality before I pick out a name. I felt a little rushed naming my dog because training is very difficult without a name. After about a week with my German Shepherd, I decided to name him Timber. He’s been living with us for nearly two months now. We celebrated his birthday by making the decision that his trail period is over and it’s time to officially welcome him into our lifestyle! He’s already come a long ways with his training, changed a lot of things about our lifestyle, and shown us there will be many more challenges to stretch and shape each of us in the days ahead. We are welcoming all of it and will do our best to give Timber a very happy life filled with good dog manners and lots of adventures!
The weather is finally changing and I was able to pull out my jeans and sweatshirt this morning. Fall has arrived in southern Arizona. Soon, we will be able to enjoy sitting outside again! A couple Saturdays ago I braved the stores and did some long overdue clothes shopping. I found these two pillows, just the right size for our outdoor chairs, on clearance at Kohl’s. Add member discounts etc. on top of that and I got these for $6 each!
The garden is growing faster than I’ve ever seen. Gardening looks different when the temperatures are near 100 degrees from the start. I am being challenged with new bugs and plant diseases. Pretty sure I’m fighting white flies, caterpillars, and maybe leaf miners. Never have I seen a peppermint plant get eaten to shreds! I think it’s the caterpillars and I’m glad they’re eating the peppermint over my veggie plants.
I’ve been baking most of our bread products again. English muffins, sourdough bread, and of course the usual muffins or deserts. We had our first pumpkin pie of the season last week, and of course I didn’t get any pictures. I used the remaining pumpkin to bake chocolate chip pumpkin muffins. I always cut sugar back when I bake, and usually the oil too. I use applesauce to replace some of the oil. These turned out great, I should write down what edits I made before I forget!
I grew up with lots of camping and outdoor experiences and I loved it all! But I could never understand why anyone enjoyed car camping!! We did extended backpacking trips, overnight fishing trips, hunting, bike trips, and more. But the few times we did go car camping, I found it totally boring and frustratingly MESSY! When you’re used to backpacking, you take as little as possible with you because you have to carry it all on your back. But car camping!! Well, let’s load up the games, the fluffy pillows, the grill, and hey, we might as well take the kitchen sink!! Because we can! If it fits in the car, it can go. 🤦♀️ Okay, maybe everyone doesn’t car camp like that, but that was my vision of car camping. I thought it was stupid.
Okay, fast forward about 15 years, put me in the middle of a dessert for 7 months with no trees or grass, and then give me a weather forecast of 120 degrees. Let’s go camping in the mountains!!! Suddenly just sitting in the silence of the woods (no AC unit humming constantly), having nothing to do but enjoy nature around you sounded like the best thing in the world. Funny how different circumstances in life change your perspective on something you used to think was silly.
When we made the decision to head to the mountains to camp for the weekend, we knew the cat was going with us. She was just as tired of the heat as we were and it just wouldn’t feel right to leave her behind. Besides that, we worried about the chance of the AC failing while we were gone. If she was home alone with no AC, that could be a big problem.
Okay, so kitty Macchiato is going with us. Great! We already knew she handles traveling with the camper just fine. We open the door at an overnight site and she starts circling the camper and expanding her circles as she investigates the area. If anything spooks her, she runs back to the camper because she knows that’s home. But how would she do without the camper? Would she treat the car in the same way or would she feel lost without her house?
I took her leash and harness with us just in case, but I already knew she hated the cat carrier and the leash and just demanded that we trust her. I knew she was very loyal and wants to stay with us so I just turned my worry mind off knowing that I want my cat to live the independent and free life of an outdoor cat. When we got to our secluded camp site, we simply let the cat out just as we would if we were traveling in the camper. She did great! She began her circling and treated the car as her safety net just as we had hoped. What a smart cat!
We had planned to camp in the Tonto National Forest just outside of Payson, AZ. When we got there, every road was blocked with yellow caution tape, stop signs, and warning signs stating that the entire forest was closed due to a recent forest fire. I’ve never seen anything like in all my years going to the woods. We were very disappointed and thinking we might have to just turn around and drive home! I’m not sure why the closure announcements weren’t on the forest service websites we were browsing as we planned our trip. Anyway, after looking at the map, we noticed the Coconino National Forest wasn’t too much farther up the road so we headed there to see if we could camp there. Yes! The forest was open and simply had no “campfire” signs which is typical for the summer anywhere.
We found ourselves a really nice spot, tucked off the main roads and away from other people. We didn’t want a fellow campers dog to chase our cat. And I tend to like to get as far away from people as possible when I go camping. 😂
Kitty played and played, hunting chipmunks 🐿, getting scolded by crows, and climbing trees 🌲. She has missed spending time outside with us. We’re usually outside working on projects and gardening at home but it has just been too hot for any of that. So she was really happy to have her people hanging out with her outside again. Jonathan and I were just enjoying the quiet and the fresh air! I don’t think anyone should live where trees don’t live.
I suppose it was a lot of trouble to pack up all our gear for one night in the woods, but it was totally worth it to me. I had to chuckle as I took pictures of pine cones and trees, things I used to take for granted. It’s interesting to note what you take pictures of when you haven’t seen them in forever.
I wasn’t sure how Macchiato would do at night. She’s used to sleeping with us, but I wondered if the night life of the woods would have her too excited to sleep. We were a little worried about her trying to scratch her way through the netting of the tent. But, she went right to sleep as usual. I did have to put her in the car for the early morning hours. I usually let her outside at about 3 or 4 in the morning, and she wanted to stick to that routine in the woods. I didn’t want her running around free in the woods while it was dark, so I put her in the car so I could finish sleeping.
After enjoying our morning at the camp site, we decided to go on a nice long car ride, exploring the Arizona and New Mexico border. There is a lot of beautiful and untouched country over there! The route we chose was very scenic and the temps were pretty close to 75 degrees all day, but it ended up taking much longer than we anticipated! It was a 12 hour drive by the time we got home. Kitty was, once again, quite the trooper, napping the whole way like a road tripping pro. 😹
A friend from the local orchestra 🎻 here in Yuma, Arizona invited me to spend the afternoon with her. She asked what I’d been wanting to do in the area, suggesting we do it together. I was all down for this except…🤔 I couldn’t think of anything to do in Yuma! It’s something I’ve struggled with down here. I’m used to day hiking or some other outdoor adventure as a way to spend time with friends and there just isn’t much of that here! There are some amazing hikes in North Eastern Arizona, but nothing close to Yuma.
I listed off a few general ideas we could do together; grab coffee, take on a baking challenge, or go for a bike ride. We set a date and time and decided to play it by ear. Friday morning as I was drinking my coffee ☕️, I remembered what I’d been wanting to do in Yuma! Last year, one of our RV renters would pick citrus for a local orchard at daylight. Each morning I’d hear a friendly knock on the door and then be greeted with a huge smile and a bag of fresh citrus…oranges 🍊, lemons 🍋, grapefruit, and tangelos. He kept me well supplied and I returned the favor by baking him a lemon pie 🥧 or two. Well, this year I am on my own for supplying my citrus. So I texted my friend to see if she wanted to pick some fresh citrus with me and we agreed to go together to find a u-pick orchard.
For being prime citrus country, I was surprised how hard it was to find an orchard that welcomed u-pickers! I had done some looking around on Google before we headed out and followed the route to a local farm, only to find that it looked like a private residence with no indication that it was open to the public. On the way, we had passed one sign for U-Pick Grapefruit so we decided to check that out. It was oranges 🍊 I really wanted, but Jonathan loves the grapefruit and really I just wanted to harvest some fresh fruit.
This time we found welcome signs and arrows directing us to the parking area next to an orchard with the biggest grapefruit trees I’ve ever seen. An older man greeted us, handed us an apple 🍎 picker (okay, maybe it’s a fruit picker, but in the PNW we call them apple pickers.) , and told us where to find the best Ruby Red Grapefruits.
We filled a 5 gallon bucket with some beautiful grapefruits for $4 and then I also grabbed some pre picked Tangelos because they are my favorite! It was a simple outing, though hard to find a place to pick, and a great way to spend an afternoon with a friend. I just love harvesting my own food, meeting those who grow it, and knowing where it came from.
It’d been on our list of places to visit for several years. We drove close to the Grand Canyon a few times, but never felt like we had time to actually go in and visit. Finally, when we headed to Utah to workamp, we gave ourselves a few extra days to stop and visit the Grand Canyon.
We always think we’re going to stop at RV parks for the night, but then we look at the price and decide boondocking is totally doable for another night. LOL! We didn’t head out of Yuma until about 5:30pm. After having spent most of the day loading everything up to move, we found ourselves exhausted by about 8:00pm before we even made it to Phoenix. So we found a recreational area to pull off the road and parked next to a sign that said “No camping without special use permit”. No big deal, right? We’re just parking our house here. We’re not camping. I don’t know, I hate breaking rules and I hate it even more when I can’t decide if we’re doing things according to the rules or not. But we were extremely tired and there was no where else to get off the highway so we went with it.
The next day I enjoyed a long awaited trip to Trader Joe’s and a delightful snickerdoodle latte from Dutch Brothers!! And then as we drove off towards the mountains sipping good coffee I thought, “I’m not sure my day could get any better!” Once we got outside of the Phoenix area, the scenery just kept getting better and better.
I had been planning to share tidbits from the trip on my IG stories, but just outside of Flagstaff, AZ I lost data service on my phone due to roaming. So I’m sharing it now, with you. Jonathan had looked up an RV Park he was considering staying at in Cameron, AZ. There was also a trading post there he wanted to check out. I was SO impressed with this souvenir shop! They had some great items in there. Jonathan spoiled me with a matching bear necklace and bracelet set as well as a necklace pendent that read “Brave”.
We decided not to stay at the RV Park and drove on to a boondocking site I found on the Campendium app which was within 5 miles of the park entrance. We used our money to pay the $35 entry fee to the national park instead. I think we ended up with a much more enjoyable night on the road as our site was private and tucked off the highway. Kitty Macchiato was able to run around and explore freely, we built a nice camp fire, and we were able to unhitch and leave the cargo trailer behind for our day trip to tour the Grand Canyon the next day.
I’m not sure what I expected from the Grand Canyon, but I have to agree with Jonathan…it would be better to take a day hike or some other form of adventure down into the canyon. Just driving around and looking at it from the view points is impressive, and I’m really glad we did it, but I still don’t feel like I’ve really experienced the Grand Canyon. But for the short amount of time that we had, we both enjoyed the views. We entered the park through the east entrance, which is the least popular from what I understand. My favorite view point we stoped at was Grandview Point. There’s a hiking trail there which I wish we had time to explore, but another time. The views from here were the best in both directions!
We spent about 5 hours exploring the park and then headed back to our boondocking site to pick up our cargo trailer. Yes, we were nervous about people possibly bothering our trailer while we were away. But it was perfectly untouched when we got back and it was really nice to be able to leave it behind. There were several parking areas that were not big enough for our full load. This has also been one of the reasons in the past that we don’t stop and tour much while we’re making a trip.
With the Grand Canyon behind us, we set out towards Utah and turned our minds to our new work opportunity at the Ranch. We agreed that it would be important to stay in an RV Park that night, before arriving at the ranch, to give us a chance to clean up the camper (and ourselves) before showing up at our new position. I also wanted to use the wifi to catch up on some work before getting distracted by settling in at the Ranch.
With Spring Break approaching, I was definitely feeling some burnout on social media. I love browsing, I really do! So much so that I find myself getting drawn in to the whole scrolling thing way too often. There are several women I follow on Instagram as role models. They are always choosing joy, building up their husbands, lifting others up, choosing to focus on the positive, etc. There is just so much to learn from many of these women and it’s a true gift to be able to connect with their lives through social media! I’ve made multiple connections on social media. Like, legit connections. I mean, I actually call these women my friends now and I’ve even met many of them in real life! How then was I experiencing so much burnout from social media? I wanted to find out.
Social media is not bad, in and of itself. But somehow, I was pouring a lot of time and energy into my social media and something about it was draining me without giving me the return I….expected? needed? wanted? I wasn’t sure what it was. So with Spring Break, I decided it was the perfect time to step back and evaluate my whole social media presence. Since I do work online, social media is where I do a lot of my work for my business so if I was really going to take a week off, I needed to step away from social media. My personal interactions are so wrapped up in my business interactions that it can be really hard to separate the two…and then I start to feel like I work all the time, which is a problem in my book.
Why? To evaluate my focus
My day planner is pretty awesome! At the beginning of the year, my planner took me through a process of determining my work life balance and then setting goals accordingly for the year ahead. Each season, there is a “goal check in process”. This check in landed right on Spring Break. PERFECT! I was looking forward to evaluating my progress with my current goals, seeing how my work life and my life life were balancing out, etc. So I decided to take the entire week off social media and just spend a lot of time evaluating my focus. Where am I headed? What do I want to accomplish? Am I accomplishing the things I’ve set out to do? What’s working for me? What’s not working?
Most people don’t get the chance to step back and evaluate things in their life. They only get weekends (which are busy with errands and activities) and a couple weeks of vacation time. So I’m very thankful that I can take time regularly to step away and think things through.
How? Delete all social apps and make it public!
I turned the idea of my social media break over and over in my mind. I do enjoy social media! So I wasn’t 100% looking forward to doing without it for the week. I mentioned it to a few friends in conversation. Finally, I realized that if I was serious about this social media fast, I needed to make a public announcement so I would follow through. I made a post across all my social media letting everyone know I was going on spring break and would be absent from social world as well. I knew that anyone who REALLY needed to get a hold of me over Spring Break had my cell number and could either text or call me directly. Yes, I actually hesitated due to people maybe not being able to reach me. So many people, including my family, contact me through social media. I just don’t understand it! What happened to email anyways?
Next, I deleted Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger from my phone AND my iPad. This way I couldn’t open them out of habit or mindlessness by accident. I was shocked during the week to find out how many times I swiped to the location of these apps only to see them missing. It really made me think about how many times I open these apps when I really don’t need to!
What I liked about it
To start off the week, I did what I always do…I made a plan for my week. What I would do, what I wanted to accomplish. I put things on my agenda that I don’t normally have time for;
Cleaning out the Truck
Listening to my favorite podcasts
Evaluating my social media interactions
The days seemed longer, slower paced, and more satisfying. I was SO MUCH more present in the moment. I had been getting slightly annoyed with my husband for watching YouTube talk shows and never inviting me to listen with him. I’m interested in those things too! But as the week progressed, he did invite me to watch several YouTube videos with him and it hit me. He hadn’t invited me because I had my face buried in my phone under the guise of “I’m working”. It wasn’t him, it was me!
My mind was present, engaged enough to carry through some deeper thoughts. My husband and I ended up engaging in multiple in depth conversations about some great things!
None of this would have happened if I hadn’t decided to step away from social for the week. And I didn’t want to loose what I had gained. Social media fills the mind with so much constant information that I experience somewhat of a sense of stress just from how much is “going on”. I knew I wanted to continue my social media interactions, but I was ready to find a way to make my time on these platforms A LOT more intentional.
What I didn’t like about it
There were of course several things I did not like about taking an absence from social media. As I mentioned before, there are several women that I follow both as role models and friends. I missed engaging with these people on a daily basis. It was a bit annoying that I couldn’t hear what they were sharing. But with all good things, I think it’s good to take a break, just for the sheer appreciation factor. When we do without something that we enjoy for a period of time, it makes us appreciate it all the more when we come back to it.
I also didn’t like learning how much I actually use social media when I don’t intend to. I open my phone to pull up a recipe to cook dinner and out of habit open up social instead. 10 or 15 minutes of scrolling later, I bring myself back to the task at hand and resume my recipe search. This was not an easy thing for me to admit about myself! But I was glad to learn it and see it clearly so I can be proactive about my usage.
How I plan to move forward with social
Going forward, I want to be very proactive and intentional with my social media usage. It’s been nearly two weeks now and I still haven’t resumed posting to my feed! I’ve jumped on stories a few times, but nothing like I used to. I did not lose any followers, contrary to what I had heard. The thing that’s always bothered me about pouring my creative energy into social media is that I have very little control of the platform. Instagram has locked me out of my account in the past, for several days. Facebook has shut down my peers private groups with no warning or explanation. Sure, social is a great place to connect with people….but I don’t feel like it’s a genuine connection until I have an email address, phone number, or some other way of staying in touch with these people outside of social. And so, I plan on putting my blog as a priority over social. Rather than trying so hard to build my following on social, I want to pour my efforts into building my email list instead. My blog, my email list…these are things that I own and I control what happens on these platforms. So you might notice less content from me on social, more blog posts, consistent letters to my mailing list, and more private messages on social platforms. I’m not going anywhere! Just putting things I control on the internet as a higher priority. So my question for you…..are you on my email list!? Because that’s where you’re going to be seeing a lot more of me. And I want to have a genuine connection with you!
What do you find most valuable on social media? Do you find yourself opening social media and throwing 10+ minutes away before getting back on task? Or is that just me?? Let’s chat in the comments below!
It’s been all over social media. All my favorite bloggers are talking about this book. My friends are reading it and speaking highly of it. “Girl, Wash Your Face!” What IS this book? The more I heard about it, the more I wanted to read it.
But I’ve read so many books by myself and it’s kind of easy for me to read and say, “this is so good!”, “Oh! That’s so true…I should do that!!”….and then I just get another book
Reading another book is great, but what about putting into action what I learned from what I read? How about discussing my thoughts from the book so they can sink a little deeper and have time to transform me into that better person God made me to be?
My moto these past few years has been “Live With Intent”. I want to continually work on bettering myself and being the best version of myself. It’s why I workout. It’s why I try to learn about nutrition. It’s why I live in a camper right now.
“What you do everyday matters more than what you do every once in a while”
A sweet friend and mentor sent me some happy mail today and this quote was inside. It’s so fitting for what I want to share with you today…my free community of women who are making intentional choices everyday to be the best they can be. Living intentionally. Could you use more support in your life? More friends and stronger connections? We’re going to kick off this group September 1st by reading “Girl, Wash Your Face” together!
Live your life with intention! Take control of your wellness journey by intentionally making daily choices to become the best person you can be.
Friendship. Mindset. Exercise. Self-care. We all know these things are important, but are we working on them every day? This group is a place for connection and support. A place to work together and push each other toward our goals and being the best version of ourselves.
Turning onto the Tahoe Rim Trail, I was definitely sure the uphill was over. Wrong! I couldn’t believe how much I had climbed!! (Read about the first half of this bike ride.) With an elevation gain of 3000′ on my route, I really should have known better. But I just kept assuming the worst was behind me and kept trucking along. 5 miles on this trail to get back to the Tunnel Creek Rd which would take me the final 3 miles back to the truck.
Marlette Peak offered the broadest views of the trip. I had to stop for a water break to take lots of pictures. I was above tree line with 360 degree views of mountains, meadows, cities, and lakes. The wind was ripping through there like crazy though and it was bitter cold. So cold I almost pulled my pants out of my backpack to warm up. I found a few wildflowers along this section of the trail as well.
Finally at the highest elevation on my route (I believe it was 9,100′), I was not surprised to find multiple patches of snow covering the trail. This trail isn’t always open until at least the middle of June so I knew I was hitting it pretty early in the year. The snow was only on the east side of the mountain in shady areas. It really wasn’t a problem, except for one extra large patch that was about 6′ deep and 300′ across. This was the only time I lost sight of the trail and it only took me a few minutes to relocate it on top of the ridge. I enjoyed seeing some snow, come to think of it, that’s the first and only snow I’ve seen this season!! We spent the winter in Yuma, AZ so it was refreshing to see some snow. I did end up with soaking wet feet, muddy shoes, and sand splattered legs from wet bike tires though.
Now that I was headed downhill, it was time to cover ground while the sun shined!! 7:00pm knowing I was still several miles from the truck had me getting a tiny bit nervous.
I have to say, the Tahoe Rim Trail is technically a hiking trail, not a mountain bike trail. While this section of the trail is open to mountain bikes, it’s obviously not designed with bikers in mind. The rocks are pretty big and chunky, dropping off 6 – 8 inches regularly. On a downhill stretch, this makes for an extremely awkward ride! (Uphill too I’m sure!) More than once I had to stop and walk my bike through the rocks. Like I said, fine for hiking, not so perfect for bikes! This made for a frustrating section of trail, but the lower I descended off the mountain, the smoother the trail became. Eventually I was able to make some pretty good time and enjoy flying downhill on a mountain trail.
The switch backs down the back side of the mountain by Twin Lakes offered some more scenery and a nice trail. It what seemed like no time at all I was at the intersection for the Tunnel Creek Rd. 0.6 miles had me back on familiar territory, completing my loop for the day. Now for the 3 mile decent back to the truck, enjoying amazing sunset views of Lake Tahoe the whole way down the mountain. I pulled off at a look out point to take a few more pictures just as the sun dropped behind the mountains across the lake. I couldn’t have timed my trip more perfectly!
I would have enjoyed more time to leisurely enjoy the scenery and maybe not push myself so hard on the uphill sections. But I had just enough time, the perfect amount of food, and plenty of stamina for this trip, thanks to my regular workout routine!
Hopping back in the truck at 8:15pm, I completed a 19.3 mile bike trip in roughly 6 hours. So much beautiful scenery!
Ready to explore and enjoy some scenic views around Lake Tahoe, I looked up some mountain bike trails in the area. Come to find out, Lake Tahoe is a pretty popular place for mountain biking so there were several trails to choose from. I decided the world famous Historic Marlette Flume Trail would give me the biggest bang for my buck…or should I say, the best views for my over exerted body!
I wanted a bike route that would take me in a loop, I hate back tracking when I’m out exploring! The more land I can cover the better. Typically, those who ride the Flume Trail take a $20 shuttle from the Tunnel Creek Cafe up to the Spooner Lake parking area and ride downhill most of the way back to their vehicle. While this sounded fun, the shuttle only runs in the morning and it was already noon by the time I was planning my route. Besides that, I’m way too cheap to pay $20 just to avoid a bit of an uphill climb. (It turned out to be more uphill than I imagined!)
After looking over a few maps and blog posts, I decided to make one of two loop options along the trails above Incline Village, Nevada. Time determined which route I ended up taking, which was the shorter loop, clocking in at 19.3 miles round trip. The longer route would have taken me all the way to Spooner Lake and been closer to 30 miles. In the end, I was quite happy with the route I choose, especially considering the amazing views I enjoyed.
I parked on the side of the highway across from the Tunnel Creek Cafe and headed up Tunnel Creek Rd starting about 2:00pm. As I met hikers along the way up the hill, many laughed and informed me I was taking the trail backwards! I told them I knew that but I was too cheap to take the shuttle. They offered a word of encouragement and assured me the Flume Trail was worth it.
3 miles and 1 hour later I made it to the trail intersection that was the start to the famous Flume Trail. I stopped for a break, some water, and a few pictures, and eagerly continued on. The footage I had seen of this trail had me excited to see the views with my own eyes! “4.4 miles to Marlette Lake” the sign said. I knew this portion of the trail was fairly level so I figured I could make good time.
I was not disappointed! The Flume Trail rides a narrow ledge on the side of the mountain right above Lake Tahoe. You can’t get better views than that! Yes, the trail is narrow in places and the mountain side steep down to the lake and highway below. But it is safe and totally rideable. I admit I was glad to be riding the path late in the day, especially since I was technically riding the route backwards. I would not be interested in passing another mountain biker on that trail.
The beautiful views and excellent single track trail came to an end all too soon. I was half tempted to turn right back around and ride it again the other direction, it was that much fun! Breath taking views had me stopping frequently for pictures…another reason I was glad to have the trail to myself.
It was fun to see Sand Harbor from a bird’s eye view as we are hoping to visit the park before we leave the area. Looking forward to enjoying the sandy beaches down there!
Having only read briefly about Marlette Lake and the water flume the trail is named after, I had been pondering how a man made lake could be so massive. As I approached the lake I saw the dam and it all made sense. The old timers dammed up this ravine to catch the water from the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The flume carried the water down the mountain into the mining towns. Don’t ask me why Lake Tahoe wasn’t a sufficient water source! That part doesn’t make any sense to me!!
Stopping for a bite to eat (dried apricots) while enjoying the beauty of Marlette Lake, it was time to decide my return route. Time wise, I was at my halfway point as I knew it would be getting dark around 8:00pm. A few minutes pondering my maps, I assumed I had done the majority of the climbing on my route and decided to go for the loop that would take me back by way of the Tahoe Rim Trail above Marlette Lake. It was only 2 miles from me to the Tahoe Rim Trail so I figured it couldn’t take me too long. I hustled around the lake knowing I needed to make good time.
The signage wasn’t very clear on this section of my route. Apparently you can drive a car to Marlette Lake (or at least the forest service can) so I was on a gravel/dirt road for this section of the route. I COULD NOT believe how steep it was!! There were signs to all sorts of things…everything except what I was looking for, the Tahoe Rim Trail. My maps told me this was the way, but the signs weren’t very reassuring. This made me hustle all the more as I didn’t want it to get too late in case I decided I needed to turn around and go back the way I came.
One hour later I had found my way to the Tahoe Rim Trail (what a relief!) and stopped for dinner (a protein bar) looking out over Marlette Lake and Lake Tahoe. I was high enough to see both now.
This was my first solo trip in the mountains. I’ve spent a lot of time in the woods, backpacking, fishing, hunting, etc., but I’ve never gone alone. I was never one to stay at camp while the others went on a day hike either. When we first arrived in Tahoe, the neighbors warned us about the bears breaking into houses and vehicles regularly. We agreed that it would be best for one of us to stay home on “bear duty” at all times. We can’t afford to have our home damaged by bears while we are still trying to build! This meant any adventuring would have to be done alone. So, I grabbed my bear spray and some other emergency items and faced one of my fears: being alone in the middle of nowhere. It turned out to be a great experience! The best views are yet to come, from Marlette Peak and beyond. Keep reading on my next post!