Sunday, October 3, 2010 Steady to heavy rain until mid-afternoon, 50 degrees,then partly sunny and 78 degrees
The television weather forecast for Yosemite NP had us in a quandary this morning. We had purposely avoided that park on the weekend in order to miss the crowds, and now the forecast predicted 48 degrees with rain and snow until Thursday. We drove to South Lake Tahoe not knowing whether to head to Yosemite or wait out the weather some place else.
Rain overnight began again as we entered the Visitor Center. According to the man on duty, there isn't much to do in the area when the weather doesn't cooperate. So we began north on the lake rim tour. Lake Tahoe is 72 miles in circumference and fills a glacier created valley which is surrounded by mountains. It is 12 miles wide, 22 miles long, 1,645 feet deep, and 6,225 feet above sea level. It is the third deepest lake in the US.
South Lake Tahoe is a typical mountain lake village: motel after motel interspersed with restaurants and small shops. The added feature here are the casinos which are found in so many areas of the west.
On the way around the lake we stopped at several overlooks, but the views were partially obscured by rain and fog. Our favorite stop was Inspiration Point Vista which looks down on Emerald Bay, named for the color of the water. Located at the head of the bay is Vikingsholm Castle, handcrafted in the 1920's of local stone and wood. Its style is that of Scandinavian castles and churches and cost $250,000. The owner also built a teahouse on Fannette Island, a pointed granite rock island just off shore. It would have been fun to hike the one mile trail down to the castle, but not in rain, fog, and 50 degrees.
By the time we reached Tahoe City at the north end of the lake, the rain was heavier and the fog denser, so we decided it was pointless to continue the rim drive. We sat in the car reading California information, looking for alternate places to visit. Nothing else excited us so we decided to head to Yosemite and hope the the forecast would change.
Traveling I 80W was nerve-wracking in the heavy rain, traffic, and road spray, but just before we got off, the rain stopped. As we headed down CA 49S, the skies cleared, and the temperature rose to 82. In Carson City we were told that CA 49 was a pleasant, easy drive through small towns. Pleasant if your idea of pleasant is a route that constantly turns left then right as it wends its way through town after town after town. Then once we got past most of the towns, we were back in the mountains, twisting and turning, climbing up and crawling down. We were very relieved when we finally reached Mariposa, the entrance to Yosemite.
TODAY'S ROUTE: from Carson City, NV, US 50W to CA 89N to I 80W to CA 49S to Mariposa, CA