Monday, May 18, 2009

Historic Tallac Estate

Much more rested this morning, I think I can tackle yesterday’s hiking adventure.  Although our total hiking miles only amounted to 3, with the intention of 4, it took the better portion of the day.
Along Taylor Creek Trail

Mt Tallac, 9735 feet

We left early for the 25 mile drive to South Lake Tahoe.  We stopped only once and that was at the overlook where I took several photos.  It is a beautiful spot—one that warrants a thermos of coffee and Danish some morning.  We spent several minutes there then were on our way again.
Baldwin Estate main house
Hellar Estate, Vahalla
Gene had picked out 3 short hikes, all in the same area, from the hiking guide he picked up at the bookstore Saturday.  All these hikes were on National Forest Service land.  The directions to the trailhead for the first 2 hikes were very clear and we had no difficulty finding the spot.  What we found, however, was a closed gate with a very large “closed” sign.  Apparently, they don’t open until Memorial Day weekend.  It was a beautiful day and unseasonably warm.  Everybody who didn’t have something else to do wanted to be on the beach on the other side of the closed gate.  Like the rest of the folks, we parked on the shoulder of the road and walked around the gated (properly ignoring the closed sign).  By the time we left there, the number of cars parked along the shoulder on both sides of the road stretched for maybe a half mile.  It was truly incredible.  Most were carrying coolers, blankets, and even a few umbrellas past the gate to the beach, about a half mile walk.  The gate was not the only thing closed; so were the restrooms.  But other than that, we (and all the rest) enjoyed our day at Taylor Creek and the Historic Tallac Estate.
Taylor Creek

Our first hike was the Taylor Creek nature trail.  Taylor Creek empties into Lake Tahoe just a few feet from the trail.  This was a typical nature trail with benches for resting (or meditating), interpretative panels, and a wide, paved footpath.  There was a boardwalk built over the marshy areas and at one point it was underwater.  Taylor Creek was a raging torrent of melted snow from the high peaks making its way to the lake.  This short 1-mile hike took a considerable amount of time.  I stopped to take several photos, we stopped to read the interpretative panels, and we stopped just to enjoy the beauty of the creation.
Pope Estate main house

Our second trail started across the parking lot from Taylor Creek Visitor Center and led to the Historic Tallac Estate.  In the late 1890s and early 1900s this 150-acre plot of land on the south end of Lake Tahoe became a summer retreat for rich and famous families (and their guests) from San Francisco. Today, volunteers and the National Park Service maintain 3 estates which are open to the public (in season).  We were able to tour the grounds and peak in the windows, but the homes and guest houses were still closed.  There were several volunteers out (even on Sunday afternoon) trying to get things in shape to open next weekend.  Each estate consists of the main home, several guest cottages, servants’ quarters, boathouses, and in the case of Valhalla, a theater.  The Pope Estate was like its own little community with a blacksmith shop and separate quarters for the tutor.  They all, of course, had grand views of Lake Tahoe.

Although, the walk through this historic site was only 2 miles, it took a couple hours.  We had to read every sign and peek in the windows.
Each estate had a great view of Lake Tahoe

After our late picnic lunch, we headed across the street to the next trailhead.  It was far enough away that we had to drive.  I was also in desperate need of restroom facilities.  After about a mile we came to an open campground.  They always have restrooms, so we pulled in.  Besides taking advantage of their facilities, we drove around with an eye for a future camping adventure and Gene went in the “camp store” to ask a few questions.  By the time we had finished exploring, talking, and eating our ice cream, it was pretty late in the afternoon.  We decided to leave the last hike for another day.

Today is a rest and chore day with maybe a trip to the bookstore this afternoon.  Tomorrow—who knows!

No comments:

Post a Comment