I Freakin’ Love This Place – Outdoor Recreation In North Lake Tahoe

I live in Kings Beach, California. I freakin’ love it here. There are so many options for fun and adventure. I do web content and marketing work at Tahoe Mountain Sports, and I freakin’ love it there, too. Working in such a beautiful place with so many opportunities for outdoor recreation is a luxury I hope I never, ever, ever take for granted. Working in the outdoor industry is a big bonus, as I have knowledge of, and access to, top-tier outdoor equipment, making it easier to get out and explore the greater Tahoe region at my leisure.

stand up paddle board
Cruisin’ the lake.

Tahoe is a magical place. I just had two days off work, and I want to explain how many awesome things I was able to do during those two days. Well, since the following events began Saturday evening when I got off work, make that two days and a night. I also want to thank Tahoe Mountain Sports for letting me take several pieces of demo equipment along with for the ride(s).

WARNING: This blog is about a butt-load of awesome outdoor gear and how much fun I have with it. It is ‘hyperlink-heavy’ because everyone should be able to benefit from great gear. Simply don’t click the links if you don’t want to be distracted from the story.

First, when I got off work Saturday at 6:30 I rode my bike across the street to the beach and got on a stand up paddleboard. As soon as I took a few strokes and was gliding across the surface of the lake my mind felt at ease and much of my stress left my body. As I coasted along inspecting the random treasures visible through clear blue water on the lake bottom, I noticed I was the only soul on the water as far as my eyes could see. Paddling is a very tranquil way to enjoy nature and simultaneously cleanse the spirit.

Then we raced over to Alpine Meadows Road and found the trailhead for Five Lakes. It’s up between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows ski resorts, and only a bit over two miles uphill to a beautiful granite and pine setting with tolerable swimming temps and great views of the Granite Chief Wilderness. We sat around the fire that night with dinner, s’mores and a good Shiraz.

snow peak trekker kit
Breakfast and coffee with a view.

I also got to use my Snow Peak Trekker Kit, which includes a Gigapower stove and Trek 1400 cookest. They’re all incredibly lightweight and the stove boils water in 3-4 minutes. I’ve been waiting to get this stove for a while now, and was stoked to finally try it out myself. The next morning we sat on a Thermarest Z-Lite sleeping pad and enjoyed coffee from a rock overlooking the lake. Then I called dad and wished him ‘Happy Father’s Day’ – love you, dad! We took a dip in the lake, filtered drinking water with my Katadyn Hiker water filter, which took half the advertised time to filter one liter (34 seconds, 60 pumps), and went for a beautiful trail run among the wildflowers out toward Barker Pass.

It was hot and dry up there, so I was stoked for my Platypus soft water bottle. I like how portable and packable it is. It’s great for trail running, and easily fits in a jacket pocket so I’m also excited to try it backcountry skiing this winter. On this overnight trip I got away with only packing the 1-liter soft bottle, and used my fast-acting filter for refills. That saved me the weight of a hard water bottle and excess water.

platypus soft water bottle
Saw a Platypus in a creek along the Pacific Crest Trail.

After the overnight camping trip and day hike / trail run I met some friends at Moon Dunes, a local beach on Lake Tahoe’s north shore. We threw discs on the beach and drank a few cold cans of Tecate, then went to Tahoe City for some shuffleboard at Pete N’ Peter’s followed by a delicious Hop Song IPA at Tahoe Mountain Brewery. I’m an IPA kind of guy, and I’ll tell you what – this was a good beer. My buddy Eric had their Hop Dragon Double IPA, but at 9.5% it was a bit strong for me at the particular moment. Still, I had a couple sips and it was fantastic! Perfectly balanced, robust yet well-balanced hops a smooth finish. Both of our beers exceeded our expectations (I’ve only been in Tahoe for nine months).

The next morning I went for a trail run from the top of Mt. Rose Summit. I’m trying out lightweight overnight backpacks for a fastpacking trip coming up in mid-July. We’ll be running around Evolution Basin near Bishop, CA, and I need a good bag I can cover lots of ground with that will wear comfortably and hold enough supplies for a few days on end. This particular evening I took a Boreas Muir Woods 30 pack for a test run out to Galena Falls. I’d prefer it a little less rigid for fastpacking, but it may end up working out in the end. It’s a great pack, and I understand that it’s a bit stiffer so it can carry more weight and remain stable when doing stuff like whipping around turns on a mountain bike. We’ll see…I still have some time to figure all that out.

That afternoon I met a buddy for a bike ride in the wicked-awesome network of singletrack trails behind Kings Beach. After a good climb to a sweet view of the lake on the hilltop, we turned around and started charging downhill. Then Brandon took a spill about a third the way down and bent his front rim so badly he couldn’t even rotate the wheel. We spent over an hour walking back down the trail, his arms tiring as he pushed his upright bike on its back end, wishing we were instead tearing down it on both wheels. Still, it’s a wonderful area and a great trail, so looking back on the day we got more bang for our buck – a great bike ride and a great hike! Here’s a shot from a rest-stop along the way – the wildflowers are popping right now:

bike trails kings beach

And the video Brandon shot on his ION Air video camera, including the wipeout that destroyed his front rim:

Next, slackline at the beach. Corey and I set up his ENO slackline, then Meaghen came over with her ENO slackline, and we had a fun session working our balance and letting the dogs play in the water. Corey’s  been practicing lately and learned a few tricks. He says they’re still amateur moves, but I was impressed nonetheless:

I also got a new Nemo Astro Air inflatable sleeping pad, and I’m pumped to finally have a good one that’s really lightweight, comfortable and super compact when deflated. I’m actually lying on it right now, in my two-person backpacking tent from The North Face, as I type on my (not-so-lightweight) laptop powered by a (very lightweight) Goal Zero solar panel I had on my back as I hiked up to this campsite. I don’t even need to be in my tent because my new ultralight down Marmot Helium mummy sleeping bag keeps me so warm, but I planned on typing and knew the screen’s light would attract bugs. I was right – they’re all over the side of the tent, but I’m safe in my comfy asylum with plenty of headroom and great memories of my weekend to keep me smiling.

mpowrd luci light
Check out that sweet solar powered inflatable light up there.

That light you see there is the Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern I got from work provided great lighting for the games. Luci’s really cool because she’s made of lightweight plastic and has little solar panels that keep her charged for hours on end.  She only took a few breaths to fully inflate, and she packs down real small and hardly weighs anything.

My oversized K-9 companion, Rowdy, is sleeping heavily just outside the tent. Luckily he’s not a very sound sleeper, so I usually don’t worry much about anything disturbing us during the night. I rarely bring a bear canister, unless it’s required where I’m traveling, and I often sleep closer to my food than I probably should. Rowdy makes a pretty good guard dog, but tonight, we will see. All I’ve got is coffee this time, so I’m not worried. But he’s also exhausted after a big weekend, at my side during most good times had. When he’s with me he covers much more ground than I do, running up and down and all around (usually hollering at squirrels and scents from recent critter-crossings) as I make my way slowly up the trail. I’m guessing tonight something could get pretty close to camp before he woke up…still, no stress.

living in kings beach
Taking a moment to enjoy a drink on the front deck.

I freakin’ love my job. Half the gear I used this weekend I got from work. I also love that I’m camping with a view of the lake right now and I have to be at work tomorrow morning. Hahahahaha! I freakin’ love this place. Recreational opportunities abound in North Lake Tahoe.

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