It’s Okay to Go Alone

I used to hike alone all the time. My days off never aligned with those of my family or friends so I had no other choice. Plus, I liked the freedom of being on my time and going at my pace and doing extra exploring if that’s what I wanted. 

Last summer I got away from that. I traveled, A LOT. I went to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Spain! It was the best summer of my life. 

But it kept me from going on my solo hiking trips in the area. 

This week I was off on Tuesday. And I was hesitant to plan anything because that would mean going alone. It had just been so long that I felt weird and not confident and wondered what other people would think seeing a young girl out on the trail by herself. 

I knew the Rubicon trail would be a great hike and I wanted to go and get that confidence back. So at 11:30pm on Monday after hours of going back and forth on should I go, should I not go? I set my alarm for 6am. 

I woke up, packed my bag (very little planning went into this), stopped for a coffee at Purple Bean, put the destination in my maps, and got on the road.

I got there around 8:15am (I suggest getting there early since the lot does fill up quick and bring $10 for the park fee). I gathered my things and hit the trail. It is a five-mile hike (one way) to Emerald Bay. You could hike with someone else and park two cars but I of course would be hiking the five miles back. I brought plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, and my bathing suit and towel because I knew I would want to find a spot to swim. 

As soon as I started on the trail, I was overwhelmed by the views of the lake. Along with the early morning air, the birds chirping, the calmness of the water, and just the stillness of the world around me. It was incredible. I was content being alone. I felt lucky to have this experience. 

The start of an amazing trail

The trail follows the ridgeline of the lake for most of the way. I took so many breaks because I couldn’t believe the beauty, it had to be appreciated. 

The trail was not crowded at all, which is always nice. I passed a few other older couples and a nice older gentleman backpacking on the way.

I took my first water break at a vista and just sat and counted my blessings. It was a beautiful day. 

Enjoy the view!

The path varies uphill/downhill since you are following the ridge-line, with a mix of rock steps (does anyone else just really love rock stairs??) and forest. Once you get to Emerald Bay, you come across a campsite which was a little confusing for me but follow the concrete path straight and it will lead you back to the trail. The hike goes all the way to Eagle Point Campground. I hiked to the Vikingsholm Castle where they usually offer tours however due to the pandemic they are on hold. It was still cool to see.

Tahoe’s Hidden Castle

I further hiked to Lower Eagle Falls and then made my way back. 

Lower Eagle Falls

I found a perfect spot, just off the trail, right before the campsite. A massive rock that goes out into the bay but flattens so it’s a great place to lay out, right on the lake. I sat there, just me and my thoughts, and you won’t believe what happened. 

Remember the older backpacker, I had passed earlier in the day? Well here he comes in a kayak. I wave to him and he waves back. 

“You made it further,” he says.

“And you got a kayak!”

He told me he likes to hike out and kayak back. What a cool guy, he reminded me of my dad. He then asked if I was staying at the campgrounds with my family. I replied and told him no, I had just come up for the day. He then said, “I admire your independence.” And told me to have a good day. 

It seems like no big deal, but it really meant a lot to me. I almost let the fear of being alone keep me from going on such a great adventure. I spent a couple hours out there on the rock, went for a swim, read, and journaled. I almost fell asleep until a family nearby let me know that bears were in the campsite headed in our direction. I packed up my stuff and got out of there because while bears are cute, I would rather keep the distance.

Backpack Essentials

About three miles back to D.L. Bliss State Park, it started to rain! It was awesome. It had been clear skies all day, the clouds came out of nowhere. And now I was caught in the middle of a thunderstorm and a nice warm summer rain. 

Lastly, right by the park, you can hike up to an old lighthouse. I recommend checking it out. 

All in all, this was a fantastic hike with incredible views and for me, so many unforgettable surprises, and a lesson learned. 

It is okay to go alone. 

Embrace your independence. I hope I have inspired some of you to go on your own adventures. You won’t regret it. Please leave a comment if you try out this trail. I would love to hear about your experience!

Find your hidden gems

Ha-who?

Haru.

Ramen is my absolute favorite food. There’s just something about a nice warm bowl of noodles and a soft boiled egg that give me the comfort of my mom’s cooking.

I have taken so many people to this restaurant as an excuse to not order take out from them for the sixth week straight. This past week I took my good friend Samantha and I may or may not have taken my boyfriend’s family two days later…

This place is just too good! Their curbside pickup saved me during the quarantine. 

Haru is located at 5210 Longley Ln #500, Reno, NV 89511. It has the cutest store front tucked away in the Longley Town Center. 

The best ramen place in town

The Haru owner and staff have gone above and beyond on the safety precautions for their guests. All of the tables are separated by dividers, more than six feet apart. They offer you a paper bag to store your mask while you enjoy the delicious ramen, along with hand sanitizer for your table. Little things to show they care.

Showing they care and a sneak peek at the menu

This is a local restaurant. The staff are always so friendly. Every time I go, I have been welcomed by Isabella, the nicest hostess/server. The guys in the kitchen are also always quick to welcome and thank you for your business. You can tell that they care about their guests. 

I think this is the best ramen in Reno! I always get the Kuro Ramen with a level 2 of spicy. I would also recommend the Tonkotsu Shoyu. I won’t lie I had a hard time reading the menu the first time I went, so I got lucky on my choice. They also offer rice bowls, small plates, sides, and a wide range of drinks. 

top left: miso ramen, top and bottom right: kuro ramen, bottom left: tonkotsu shoyu

The ramen has so much flavor, the pork belly is tender, and the egg is perfectly cooked.

They now offer online ordering for curbside pickup. But if you want to enjoy dine in, you should call ahead of time and make a reservation. Please leave a comment if you go try out Haru. Go support locals! 

Find Your Path

I am so lucky to live where I live.

Lake Tahoe is basically in my backyard and although my usual trips up there are about an hour drive, sometimes I am hesitant to drive the extra hour to get to someplace new.

I had heard about Horsetail Falls and seen great pictures, I really wanted to see it for myself. Then, I looked up the directions. An hour and forty-five-minute drive. For a 3 mile hike? I didn’t know if it would be worth it.

Spoiler: It was.

I said screw it and texted my long-time hiking buddy (my Aunt Sharon) and asked if she would like to go with me. She said yes and we agreed to leave Reno at 7am, with a coffee stop of course.

We got there around 9:30am and the parking lot was full, so I recommend getting there extra early. (several groups of people were just starting as we finished and the parking had only gotten worse by the time we got back) I would further suggest going on a weekday.

The base of the trail

We started our hike and very quickly came across our first little waterfall. You basically follow the creek all the way up to falls so there are plenty of incredible views. The trail itself is a mix of forest and rock, I suggest wearing shoes with grip. Not too far in, we came to a divide where you could go straight or right, both leading to the top. A lovely couple informed us that the straight path is simply more direct.

We went right.

We came across another cool waterfall, cascading downs the rocks. It was beautiful. We then kept following the blue arrows. But to me, there was no right path. With so much wide-open terrain and different ways of going up, it was okay to feel a little lost.

Go right

The scenery was incredible, there is so much to look at. From the mountains all around you, the creek on your right, the little wildflowers, the rock formations, the birds, every little hidden gem. You can also see the falls at the top of mountain as you make your way up. Another bonus is that there are some swimming holes along the way if you want to cool off.

Be prepared for some rock scaling especially toward the top.

After a little bit of climbing, we made it to the falls. It was incredible. Pictures could not do it justice. We sat and enjoyed the view.

Horsetail Falls

You can hike up to the very top, it would require a little bit of climbing and proper footwear though. We were content with our view. And if you make it up to where we were, you can find a nice hidden gem that my Aunt Sharon left behind.

Hidden gem courtesy of Sharon Flanary

We made our way back down with our fair share of crab-walking and crawling and sliding and scooting. You gotta do what you gotta do. The rocks can be tricky and very slippery. Also it was not the exact path we took up.

A conversation on the way down:

Fellow Hiker: “I’m not sure if I should go this way or that way.”

Aunt Sharon: “Yeahhh, there’s a lot of that.”

I won’t lie, the trail can be a little confusing, but if you keep going up and keep an eye out for blue arrows, you will find your way. We ended up hiking 5.5 miles (and 129 floors according to my Fitbit), I’m sure it varies with which path you take but it was a day well spent. Always bring plenty of water and snacks just in case your hikes end up being longer than planned.

Remember, sometimes the plan is no plan. Overall, great company and a great destination.

I know it can be weird returning to normalcy. I hadn’t seen my aunt in over a couple months so we had a lot of catching up to do. And I think the outdoors is always the best answer. I was thankful to have this time and this experience shared with her. I recommend this trail to all of you, especially with a loved one! The drive and the hike up is more than worth it. And it feels so good to get up, move, explore, and feel the sunshine.

Please leave a comment or share a picture if you check out this trail!

Great company, great destination

Emerald City in the Biggest Little City

2020 has been a year that will be written in the history books. 

I haven’t been as vocal as I would like to be during this time in fear of saying the wrong thing but I would rather learn from my mistakes than say nothing at all. 

My heart goes out to the black community and I want to show my support. 

I have lived in Reno my whole life and I had never heard of Purple Bean till last year. 

Purple Bean is the cutest little coffee shop with great drinks and reasonable prices. It is a local owned business off the Keystone exit behind the Raley’s. I also love the convenience of the drive thru, especially during this time. 

Purple Bean at 1315 W 7th St, Reno, NV 89503

The employees are always so happy and friendly which creates a welcoming atmosphere! When I am choosing a place to go to, it is not just about the product but the service as well.

I will drive all the way across town to get the blended Emerald City (irish cream, hazelnut, and mint) from Purple Bean. It is the BEST coffee drink I have ever had. There are also countless flavor combinations offered like Snickers, Almond Joy, and Hawaiian. They also have smoothies, italian sodas, and tea. Pretty much everything you could want in a coffee shop.

The ONE, the ONLY, EMERALD CITY.

The reasonable prices also attracted me to Purple Bean. I simply don’t want to pay six dollars for a cup of coffee, and that isn’t even including the tip. This coffee shop is more than reasonable and the quality is wonderful.

I was researching black-owned local businesses in Reno when I came across Purple Bean. I had no idea but I want to share with all of you my love for this coffee shop. The business is owned by David and Susan Truesdell.

Cutest little shop offering outside seating to enjoy your coffee

In the midst of the nationwide Black Lives Matter movement, many people are coming together to support businesses owned by people of color. Purple Bean is a delightful gem and I highly encourage all of you to try it and to advocate other black owned businesses in the area and show your support and alliance in other ways like signing petitions, donating, researching, peaceful protesting, and overall educating yourself on the subject.

Three Friends Walk into a Mall

Before the pandemic hit, I was working at We Olive and Wine Bar. Of course, our specialty was wine, but we did keep a few beers on tap. I remember one specifically, ‘IMBIB’. I remember it very distinctly because when guests asked what we had on tap I had no idea how to pronounce it, so I waved over to the sign I strategically put up myself.

Flash forward a couple months.

I recently moved into the sparks area and one evening my friends and I decided to go for a walk at the marina (the number of walks I’ve gone on in the past few months is more than I have in my whole life).

We found our way into the Legends Outlet and came across IMBIB. A local brewery with a store front right here across from the IMAX.

“I had no idea this was here!”

I told them we had to stop in and how my work used to distribute this beer.

The guy behind the counter was very helpful, letting us sample, offering suggestions. Turns out IMBIB specialty is sour beer which is something I had never tried before. And if that isn’t your cup of tea there are several other diverse options that embrace tradition and push the boundaries of beer.

Sparks Micro Brewery and Taproom at The Outlets at Legends

We then had our drinks out on the patio because it was such a nice day. The location is great, right on the outskirts of the mall, next to the marina, across from the theater, a tucked away local brewery with friendly service and good vibes.

Micro Dust IPA on the Outside Patio

It felt normal and I think we are all looking for that sense of normal again. This is a great spot and you get to support an awesome local business. Bring some friends and try something new!

Sometimes the Plan is No Plan

I like to have a plan. 

This summer is a little different. I can barely remember what day it is so there is never really a need to plan out every minute of every day. While it is nice to finally relax, it is a weird feeling to just go with the flow and see where the days take you. 

I woke up one morning, no alarm set. And my boyfriend and I decided to drive up to Tahoe. A friend of his posted a waterfall the day before on her social media and when he asked her where it was, she replied, “Emerald Bay.” That was really all we had to work with. We didn’t ask for specifics. 

Despite growing up in Reno, with Tahoe in my backyard, I had never been to that part of the lake. Emerald Bay is more of a general area than an exact coordinate. We based our destination on the picture and the cars parked on the side of the road. 

We found what was the trailhead for Eagle Falls.

There were several other people on the trail and we even came across a few mountain climbers. We made our way around them and hiked our way to the top of where they were ascending. 

From there we hiked a little higher. We may have gone off trail, it’s hard to tell when the trail is nothing but rocks and no signs, but the view we found was unimaginable. We were the only ones up there.

View of Emerald Bay

We hiked back down, continued on the original trail, and found a bridge that went over the waterfall.

Creek to the right of the bridge that leads to the waterfall

We crossed the bridge, to another trail not knowing where it led. We wanted to explore. 

After about a mile, we figured we had gone far enough and decided to turn around. 

As we headed back, we passed this family we had seen earlier, and they if we made it to the lake. 

“There’s a lake?” 

We had no idea. We figured we had to keep going. Come to find out we were a quarter mile, if that away from Eagle Lake. It was beautiful and so peaceful. We camped out on one of the rocks, had lunch, and enjoyed the view. We would have missed out on that experience if that family hadn’t said anything. We were thankful for that. 

For having no plan, no clue, and just a snapchat picture to base our day on, it was fun. I highly recommend this trail. And sometimes it’s okay to not have a plan and to just go. To me, this was a hidden gem, quite literally because I didn’t know it was there and now it is a place I will keep in my back pocket not only for the memories but a place to return.