Nov 9, 2016

Lake Tahoe // Day 3 (Our 1 Year Anniversary)

While planning for our Lake Tahoe trip, Emerald Bay was one of the highly-anticipated spots I was eager to see with my two four eyes. I'd seen a plethora of photos of the iconic view and was looking forward to hiking on trails nearby. We were ecstatic that the skies opened up and the rainy weather from the previous few days finally stopped. It was chilly but refreshing once we got on the trail.

We were not only excited about exploring Emerald Bay, we were also grinning from ear to ear because this day marked our one year anniversary of saying "I do"! We were so blessed to be able to go on this trip to celebrate and so thankful that the weather improved so we'd be able to enjoy the day to the fullest!

Driving down from North Lake Tahoe, the thick forests of trees eventually thinned out to showcase the absolutely breathtaking lake. We stopped at the first viewpoint to soak it in before continuing on towards South Lake Tahoe. Nearly an hour drive from the north side, it was a pleasant drive because of this view.
We stopped for lunch in South Lake Tahoe at Freshies, a local favorite with fresh food with plenty gluten-free options for us. We absolutely LOVED our tacos!!!  We each had the Two Taco Platter. I had a blackened Alaskan Rock Cod taco and a Kalua Pork taco while Greg opted for the Jamaican Jerk seasoning on his Alaskan Cod tacos. We enjoyed our food so much we ended up coming again the next day and ordered the same thing! It was THAT good!! The Hawaiian decor and music added to the fun and delicious experience, plus the staff were so sweet.
 We were stuck in a bit of traffic a few miles from Emerald Bay State Park. These gorgeous aspen birch trees were a beautiful sight, so stand-still traffic for ten minutes wasn't too bad!
Our first stop in Emerald Bay State Park was Inspiration Point, which sits 600 feet above the lake and offers an awe-inspiring view of Emerald Bay and Fannette Island. It was a bit windy and chilly in the high 40s, but once we got hiking later in the day, it felt wonderful.
 Once we ooh'd and ahh'd over the view, we got back in our car rental and drove a mile or so down to the Vikingsholm Castle parking lot. We enjoyed the view before heading down the first part of our hiking today: the one-mile down-hill walk to Vikingsholm Castle. 

After touring Scandinavia and becoming inspired by the classic architecture, Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight bought the land covering Emerald Bay and Fannette Island in 1928 and her mansion, Vikingsholm Castle, was finished within a year. Reflecting Scandinavian acrhitecture and construction, the mansion has unique features like hand-hewn timber from Tahoe, intricate carved designs on the interior and exterior, and sod-covered roofs.   

The castle is only accesible with walking down the semi-steep well-paved  one-mile gravel trail. It is open summer hours, so it was closed when we visited in October. Nonetheless, we loved walking on the beach alongside the mansion and exploring the exterior of this Scandinavian beauty.
 I loved the courtyard area, where the sod-covered roofs are visible. 
 Once we had our fill of the castle, we walked a few yards to the beach and looked for the Rubicon Trail. One of the most popular hikes in South Lake Tahoe, the Rubicon Trail , connects Emerald Bay and D.L. Bliss State Parks. Roughly 4.5 miles from one park to the other, hikers have the option in the summer of hiking one-way and grabbing a shuttle back. But in the off-season, we had the option of walking the whole way and back, nine miles -- or hiking until we decided to turn around. We ended up hiking to Rubicon Point, about 2.3 miles and back up to the parking lot, around 4.6 miles total. With the sun getting ready to set, we didn't want to be out on the trail in the dark and we felt like we got a really good idea of the trail overall where we ended up turning around. 

This trail was absolutely a must-see. We loved how quiet it was, which was a mainly due to being off-season since this is a heavily-traffiked trail in the summer. It was pretty level and not strenuous at all. 
 Once we got to Rubicon Point, roughly halfway between Emerald Bay and D.L Bliss State Parks, we relaxed on the rocks and enjoyed the view while snacking on fruits and almonds. I am not going to lie, I was a bit nervous about hiking since bears live in the forests of Lake Tahoe. While sitting here, I occasionally  frequently would turn around whenever I heard leaves rustling to make sure we weren't going to be greeted by a hungry bear who smelled our mandarins we were eating. I am happy to report we did not have any bear sightings on any of our hikes. 
 As we made our way back, the sun was starting to get ready to hide away and it peeked out through the pines and cast beautiful glowing shadows. These photos cannot do it justice. So absolutely beautiful!
 The hardest part of the hike was the one-mile steep climb from the Vikingsholm Castle back to the parking lot, but we rewarded ourselves afterwards by sitting on a bench to soak in the view one more time.

At this point, we had definitely worked up an appetite and were excited to try out the pizzas at Base Camp Pizza Co.  in South Lake Tahoe. We were not disappointed. Greg enjoyed his gluten-free pizza and I used my "cheat meal" for the week (I allow gluten and dairy once a week) to devour a pear & gorgonzola pizza. 
Here's a short video with some footage of this beautiful day!

What a perfect way to celebrate our one-year anniversary! Later that evening, we shared letters we'd written to each other and a video montage I created with photos from our first year of marriage. What a blessing to be married to my best friend!

[ click HERE for Lake Tahoe // Days 1 + 2 ]

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Elle Alice