By Tim Hauserman

These days every summer morning you will see paddleboards and kayaks paddling along the shoreline of Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake. These light weight craft give folks the chance to get exercise while enjoying the beauty of our Sierra lakes. In the old days, bulkier wood or metal canoes were the preferred method of paddling from place to place, now they are a rare sighting. But canoes are not just vestiges from a bygone age, they can still be a fun way to get out on the lake today. Especially if an overnight trip is your goal. 

My parents owned an Old Town canoe that was rode hard and brought home wet by a whole host of Hauserman kids and grandkids for over 30 years. A few years ago when I acquired the old girl, I christened her Sheila, and arranged for her much needed make over. Now, she is looking good and ready for action. In June, she took us on an epic Tahoe adventure: We paddled from Bliss State Park to the Emerald Bay boat campground and spent the night.

The early morning paddle from Bliss State Park to Emerald Bay is an amazing journey. The entire four miles of lakeshore is state park land and devoid of structures and roads. It looks pretty much the way it did 100 years ago (I guess, contrary to the opinions of my kids, I was not around back then). As we made our way in and out of the little rocky coves we saw several eagles and an osprey, but since we left really early we didn’t see many boats. 

We passed the boat campground by mid-morning and kept going to the beach in front of Vikingsholm for our picnic lunch, before returning to the campground to set up camp. The process was quite simple, pull the boat onto the grass at the edge of the lake and carry our dry sacks full of gear up to our camp site. Most of the folks spending the night arrived via kayak. We did notice that those who arrived by motor boat tended to bring a lot more gear, I guess because they had plenty of room to do so. While they might have been more comfortable in camp, they worked up an appetite with all those trips back to the dock. 

Once we had our camp set up, is when it got really good. While Emerald Bay is a crowded place in the summer, as the day began to wane, most of the folks left, and then the bay was a peaceful place. 

Early the next morning, we glided over the glassy lake surface to loop around Fannette Island, before heading back to Bliss State Park. Then we spent a beautiful morning enjoying one of Tahoe’s best beaches. Can’t wait to do it again.