That afternoon, we decided to go for a little paddle around the bay to see the island in the middle of the bay
. As we were leaving our campground, Mike noticed a young bear about 10 yards up the hillside. For the next 10 minutes, we watched it shuffle along the path, even coming down to the water to splash around a bit. Absolutely amazing. I still can't believe we saw a bear in the wild like that, and was even more excited to see it from our canoe, which meant we were a safe distance away and didn't disturb it.
Once back on dry land, we headed to Donner State Park where we saw the world's most boring video about the doomed Donner Party. Honestly, we think it was made about 30 years ago specifically for the purpose of lulling school children to sleep. But then that night we saw shooting stars from our campsite and then woke up early to paddle down the Truckee River. What we thought would be a good practice run turned into an exciting adventure when we reached the final rapid. The river was running high which made for a bigger than normal rapid, which definitely got our hearts pumping. More importantly, it showed us how stable our canoe is and made us a bit more confident about what we can and can't do on the water!
I'm not sure if there's a place on earth that's more beautiful than Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe on a sunny summer day seen from the seat of a canoe. After a short drive up from Union Valley, we camped for a night at Emerald Bay State Park in the main campground and scoped out launch sites for our canoe trip on the lake. In the end we chose Lester Beach at DL Bliss State Park, and bliss it was (I know, that's cheesy, but seriously, it was really beautiful!). The beach took us out onto the main part of the lake, and from there it was about a 3 mile paddle to the mouth of emerald bay. Once we came around the corner and the bay came into view, with the mountains in the background, we knew the paddle to get there was worth it. Our campground (which could only be reached by boat) had beautiful sites looking out onto the bay and we got out to set up camp and think about how lucky we were to be staying in such a wonderful place.