Koop's Scoop

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Labor Day Weekend - Bear Valley Visit

Hey there! We just had an awesome Labor Day weekend visit to the Alpine Lake and Bear Valley area.

We left San Jose on Friday afternoon around 1:30PM with our friend Dennis Massanari to head to our house. Traffic was fine until we got to the 580E/205E/5N/99E area - it was bumper to bumper on 580E.

We found the house via VRBO.com and it turned out to be a nice, but simple A-frame styled house near the village of Bear Valley and situated on a steep lot at 7000' above sea level. It was basically a 2 bedrooms and a 4 bed loft and 1.5 baths. Mimi and I took the master bedroom, Dennis got his own room and Katie & Sean took the loft. Mimi made us a nice meatloaf dinner and we settled in for a visit to the hot tub, awesome star gazing, and lots of laughs.

We woke early on Saturday morning, had a nice breakfast and then headed to pick up our kayaks at Bear Valley Adventure Company for rafting around Alpine Lake. We got to the shop around 10AM and had an interesting moment when the folks at the shop asked us how we were going to transport the kayaks to the lake given the state of our truck. After receiving a blank stare from me, they came up with the solution of them trucking the 3 kayaks to the lake and picking them up at the end of the day. (Note: we had 4 bikes on top of Mimi's truck and no room to hold 3 kayaks.) We followed Mike from the shop to the eastern edge of Alpine Lake and unloaded the kayaks, oars, and life vests. We were on the water 5 minutes later...

The kayaking was fantastic! Alpine Lake is at 7300' and is crystal clear. It is also stocked with 7000lbs of rainbow trout per season (more on that later). We spent time on some islands scrambling around on rocks and wading from island to island. We were on the water from 10:30AM til about 1:30PM when we broke for lunch. Mimi and the kids were getting cold so they went to the cabin to grab some gear. Dennis and I decided to take out two of the kayaks and try fishing from them. Given that the wind had come up quite a bit, we couldn't easily fish from the kayaks... so we headed to the big island on the eastern end of the lake and started to fish. Not a single bite over an hour or so, so we headed back to the camp and had some beer.

Once Mike came back for the kayaks around 4:30PM, we headed to the western edge of the lake to go fishing. We had four poles working and it took almost an hour for us to get a fish. Sean caught our first fish of the night and his first rainbow trout ever, a 12" beauty. I then got a 13" rainbow. That was it for all five of us. We had to stop for some hotdogs at the general store to make up dinner.

After dinner, we hit the hot tub and then had a fire. Beautiful fireplace on the end of the AFrame house... We had a bunch of S'Mores made with Girl Scout Animal Treasures too. Yummy.

Sunday morning we had another big breakfast and then got the bikes ready for our private Alpine Meadow tour with the folks from Bear Valley Adventure Company. Mimi, Dennis, & Katie rode their bikes down the hill to the shop and Sean and I raced them down in the truck. (We won...) We met up with Jody who got Katie's bike fixed up with a new front brake cable and a new waterbottle & cage. He also hooked Sean up with a 20" Specialized Hardrock FS bike. It was Sean's first run with 7-speed gearbox. Turns out our practices with his sister's bike was well worth it.

Jody led around a private meadow that the local water authority owns. We had a couple of spills, some cool vistas, a few hairy moments and a ton of laughs. He's a nice guy with a young family (twins) that moved to Angel's Camp from NC. We rode for almost 2.5hrs and about 5 miles...

We loaded bikes back on top of the truck and went home for lunch. Dennis snagged a nap and the Kupecs all hit the hot tub to clean up.

After cleaning up and waking up, we headed back to Alpine Lake to hike to "Inspiration Point". This hike was pretty tough and probably 800-1000' of vertical over a 2 mile climb. Great vistas as you'll see from the pictures.

After coming down the mountain we tried fishing again. No luck whatsoever - not even a nibble. We all agreed our first spot was a better spot (western edge, near campground).

Dinner was at the Alpine Lake Lodge. Very tasty and the best part was we didn't have to prepare it and clean up after it!

Monday morning was a rush to eat up all we could, clean up, pack up and roll out. We left Bear Valley to go to Moaning Caverns. Dennis and I went rappelling 165' down in to the cavern. Mimi, Katie and Sean did the walking tour. Awesome cavern and thrilling rappel for two of us. We panned for minerals too.

Ride home was fine and we all agreed that it was a great trip.

Some links:
- our house... http://www.vrbo.com/19867
- the bike/kayak rental shop... http://www.bearvalleyxc.com/summer.shtml
(bike guide = Jody)
- Lake Alpine Lodge restaurant... http://www.lakealpinelodge.com/Dining.htm


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