It was a lovely drive to Fallen Leaf Lake, up through the mountains. Fallen Leaf campground is located on the north shore of Fallen Leaf Lake. The south shore of Lake Tahoe is less than a mile away. We actually never made it to Lake Tahoe, except on the drive out. Fallen Leaf Lake may have been less well-known, but that’s because it is something of an insider’s secret. Friends from the Bay area knew of the lake and loved it. Once we arrived, we quickly understood why. It is quite possible the most beautiful lake I’ve ever seen.
We walked a short distance to the lake from our campsite, pulling the loaded-down wagon on loan from my parents, carrying everything we’d need for the day. Lunch, snacks, sunscreen, books, a small tent for Gabriel, wine (for us), and buckets for Sophia. We’d set up shop early in the morning and stay until afternoon. Jon took the kayak out every day. People were very friendly, and Sophia found a little girl to play with on the beach. My friend Ruth and her family surprised us by showing up with their older airstream. We had dinners together at night – Ruth had to drive back and forth to Reno daily for work.
This portion of the trip was the most relaxed for me. I didn’t do any grocery shopping, (just gave Jon a list when he went into town to use the internet) or any laundry. Showers were more expensive here than anywhere else and located quite far from our campsite, so we just didn’t shower! I figured the lake kept us fairly clean…I did try out my solar shower and nearly gave myself third-degree burns – it was so hot!
We were warned when we entered the park that a mama bear and her cubs had been spotted in the campground, but I figured we’d never see any bears. Jon had left very early one morning before 6 am to Starbucks to get some work done while the kids and I slept in. Our neighbor came by after 8 am to tell me she had spotted a large bear cub in our other neighbor’s campsite and then in ours that morning. It ran off when her dog began barking. Later, while I was making pancakes, Lucy began to bark like I never heard her bark before. Sophia said “Mama – what’s that cow pooping over there for?” I took one look out the door and hustled everyone inside. That was no cow – it was a bear cub! Where there’s a cub, Mama bear is not far behind. We stayed inside until I decided it was okay to go outside – the bear had run off when Lucy continued to bark like crazy!
Speaking of pancakes, I used my dad’s method of adding baking powder to the pancake mix and then took it up a notch: I was running low on milk and didn’t want to do a store run. I added yogurt and water instead of milk – and we had the best pancakes I’ve ever had! I’ve made pancakes using this trick since we’ve returned and they really are just as good as I remembered! Try it!