TBT: EMERALD BAY CAMPING

Out of all my Tahoe posts I was really struggling which one to pick to re-share.  This was such a special memory for me, I was super nervous about picking the ‘right’ one and doing it justice (almost as nervous as I was writing them).  But, this has to be may hands-down winner.  It gives a quick overview of the trip and some insight into the relationship Stetson and I have.  It’s funny this post talks about how we were starting to get so busy and were getting less time together… it’s almost like I want to shake 2015-Sydney… she had absolutely no idea how much more true that would become.

Originally posted: July 30th 2015

Our last night on Lake Tahoe.
Our last night on Lake Tahoe.

Initially, when Stetson was telling me about the Tahoe trip, he had planned I was a tiny bit apprehensive. Maybe even, a lot to panicattack level apprehensive. He was keeping me pretty much in the dark about everything we were doing. Every single detail; right down to where/what we were going to eat for each meal. For someone who loves a solid plan as much as I do, to say it was overwhelming would be a serious understatement. However, I have to hand it to him, he did such an amazing job. I’ve talked about different bits and pieces about the trip in several posts, but it has been broken up into smaller chunks. Now, with this post I want to focus on the tail end of our trip and tie it all together.

Here’s how the trip ended up breaking down:

  • Day 1- arrive in Tahoe, grab some phenomenal dinner at Mountain View BBQ, set up camp at a nearby campsite and settle in
  • Day 3- get backpacking map and insight from the lovely people at Alpenglow Sports, paddle board, quick little hike to an awesome lookout point, cook burgers at camp
  • Day 4- pack up camp, ridiculously-slow-but-incredibly-delicious breakfast at Rosie’s Cafe, take off on our backpacking adventure (see Backpacking Day 1 post)
  • Day 5- hike, hike, jam toes into end of shoe, hike, get sort of lost, find incredibly disappointing lake, sleep (see Backpacking Day 2 post)
  • Day 7- paddle board and kayak, jump off rocks, paddle board and kayak
  • Day 8- load up camp, paddleboard and kayak back to our parking area, load up and hit the road for Wyo!

Just remembering all of that and putting it on paper (or into a computer screen) is pretty exhausting. But, unbelievably cool. Basically, I have covered everything that Stetson and I did all the way through backpacking (and I went super link happy, so you can read any of the posts you missed). Afterwards, we just set up a campsite and explored the lake until it was time to come home, real relaxing way to wrap up the week.

Stets relaxing once we finally made it.
Stets relaxing once we finally made it.

Oh yeah, I should probably tell you where we camped. No biggie, really, it was just… EMERALD BAY! The Emerald Bay.  The most beautiful place I have ever seen. The world-renowned, scenic camping area. The place people cram the side of the road just to get a picture of. Yeah, we were camping there. (And as I have mentioned, my geography or knowledge of important places in general is not top notch. So, I didn’t realize just how famous Emerald Bay was until after I got home and started noticing pictures of it everywhere.) It was absolutely stunning. And we were at a ‘boat in’– or kayak/paddle board in if you can’t afford a boat like us– campsite, so it was extra secluded.

While our location was absolutely picture perfect, getting there was not. Like I said, Stetson had done all of the planning and was incredibly meticulous.   He knew every single detail: from where we were renting our gear to what restaurants we would eat at to what meals we would make each day at camp (they were even pre-portioned and labeled), he had thought of absolutely everything. Except as we were pulling into the parking area for the campsite he had booked (which was across the bay from the actual site) we noticed something a little strange—it was closed. A bit of a curveball for us because Stetson had booked the site in advance and had even looked at the map to see where we would park and how far we would have to kayak/paddle board with out gear to get to our spot. What either the website failed to mention or we failed to notice, was yes, the campsite is open, but no the parking lot is not available until the next month.

Thankfully, this wasn’t a huge deal, as Stetson knew of another area where we could park overnight and depart from that beach. Everything was good to go! The only minor change was that now instead of a 15-minute trip across the bay, loaded down with everything we needed to camp and Stetson’s dog, we had a 2-hour trip (still, loaded down with everything we needed to camp and Stetson’s dog). Just a small change. But, clearly no big deal for Stetson—who had paddle boarded once before in his entire life—and myself—who had never kayaked–  ever.

Attempting to kayak without losing all of our gear.
Attempting to kayak without losing all of our gear.

Because Stetson was on the paddle board and was already in charge of balancing a Golden Retriever on there with him, I was kayaking. Oh, and carrying all the gear. On my first trip. Ever. Luckily, we could fit most everything that we needed into our 2 backpacking packs, with just a few added luxuries (like new craft beers and a classy bag o’ wine). We tossed Stetson’s pack behind my seat and placed mine in between/on my legs in front of me. I’m sure onlookers at the beach were taking bets on our success/failure rate, but eventually we made our way out into the water and away from the shore. Which is promptly when my over thinking/nervousness kicked in—“Stets, I think I’m going too far from the shoreline!…Stets, my paddle is pushing me a lot more right than left!… Stets, I accidentally turned around!… Stets, can this kayak even support this much weight?!” All within our first 10 minutes. So, Stetson promptly and very gently told me he ‘needed me to grow up for just a second.’ And I stopped pestering him.

*A bit later, while we were still on the 2 hour trek, but both markedly less stressed because we were getting the hang of it, he apologized and I explained that as the younger sister I just needed him to answer my questions in whatever way would make me feel better, even if he didn’t really know the answer for sure. I had done this as a little kid too—“Stets, can this little seatbelt really hold me in on this rollercoaster?” I just liked the blind reassurance.*

Finally, we made it to our campsite. And it was completely worth it! First of all, I looked at all of the people bringing in their gear off of their insanely fancy/fast boats as total posers. And second of all, our campsite was AMAZING. We were, in fact, pretty happy campers. We again set up camp; we were getting pretty skilled in that area by this point in the trip. Then, it was time to crash. I mean, we had started the morning backpacking out of the hell, that is more commonly known as ‘Frog Lake.’ It had been a long day.

DCIM100GOPROThe next morning we had a lazy breakfast with some camp coffee—which is just regular coffee that you drink when you’re camping. It was incredibly nice to have a morning where we didn’t feel rushed or like we needed to hustle to keep on schedule. But, we did want to take full advantage of our day with the paddle board and kayak, so after clean up we set off for the water. We spent the entire day out on the lake (I talk about this day in detail in my previous post, Paddle Boarding and Kayaking). Then made it back, just in time thanks to a little windstorm, for our last camp dinner. We stayed up that night finishing off the last of our provisions (camp wine mostly). It was a really strange feeling to be so utterly exhausted, but completely relaxed at the same time. Our week had been very go, go, go, so we were pretty worn out by this point. But, we were also in that full-on vacation mode, where you aren’t really worrying about anything that’s going on back at home or at work. It was definitely a different mix of feelings, but not in a bad way at all.

DCIM100GOPRO
All packed up!

The next morning we packed up and hit the water. We weren’t necessarily in a hurry, but we did have a 14-hour drive ahead of us, so we wanted to get to the car in decent time. By this point I was an expert, so I looked pretty much like Carl Lewis gliding on top of the water out there. We made it back to the car in good time and got all packed up to head home.

***

Early on in the week, I made the comment to Stetson that I was glad we were doing this trip, because it would probably be the last solely brother/sister trip we got to do. Of course, he gave me hard time the entire week about that comment, pretending I was being all pessimistic and such. But really what I meant was how jacked I was that we actually were doing this. I’ve tried to explain it before, and it’s a little difficult: but I just don’t feel like people are used to a brother/sister pair that are such good friends. Yes, for sister and sister or brother and brother it’s almost expected, but brother and sister is different. People are usually pretty surprised.

Friends for the longest time.
Friends for the longest time.

But, we have been this way my entire life. Honestly. Not, in the cheesy “Oh, we are best friends—but really we only hang out when forced to at family holidays way” or the #bestfriends post on Instagram for #NationalSiblingsDay (which, let’s be honest, comes about 7 times a year). We are honest-to-goodness friends. We hang out and watch baseball games. We go to happy hour. We fish. We get into fights. We eat 3 entire pizzas, as a team. It’s a real friendship. So, yeah I thought it was pretty darn neat that he planned this whole weeklong trip for us to take together. Plus, we are getting older and both of us are starting to get busier with work and our relationships. And that’s a great thing! And I’m definitely happy for both of us. But, it does mean less time with just us. So, no matter how much he made fun of me, I still mean what I said. I’m incredibly glad we took that trip.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney