Taking advantage of the time difference between Scotland and California for an early morning start on Saturday, getting up at 4.45am and trundling all the luggage across the street from the Millbrae Travelodge near SF International Airport and jumping on the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit System) at 5.45am.
Traversed across the full length of the BART Network from Millbrae in the South to Richmond in the NE to join the Amtrak Capital Corridor’s service to Sacramento the state Capitol and their onwards coach link to South Lake Tahoe. The BART is a whole lot more luggage friendly than the tube and a couple of lifts down then up is all thats needed to transfer from BART to Amtrak at Richmond Interchange. A stress free and cheap way to make the trip, like a 1/5th of the cost of an flying to Reno and the somewhat optimistically named Reno Tahoe airport, it’s a good 90mins by bus back West on Highway 50, thus little benefit for the hugely more expensive air fare.
Track works before Sacramento though meant only a short 30min trip on the double decker Amtrak train, just enough time to scoff a hot dog and breakfast baggle for breakie, very American, before decanting to a train replacement bus to Sacramento. So it’s not just ScotRail !
Sacramento Valley Station is like something right out of the Wild West, an old red brick station, who’s main concourse resembles a church with long solid wooden pews !
From there it was back on another bus, the Amtrak link to South Lake Tahoe over the Echo Summit on Highway 50, soon after Placerville the first remnants of old drifts at the side of the road from previous winter storms that brought lower level snow. From Placerville Highway 50 starts to really climb, the freeway soon gives way to a narrower road, a mix of dual carriageway, single carriageway and long crawler lanes. We’re climbing to the Twin Bridges before Echo Summit as I type this, the road winding and twisting its way skywards and to the main winter snowline.
Sunny under part cloudy skies, but you can tell from the increasing high level cloud that weather is moving in. Snow expected to reach this evening or overnight, another 15 to 20inches of fresh forecast for Kirkwood through Sunday. However rather high snow levels in the warm sector, down at lake level in South Lake at a mere 6200ft, the forecast is Heavy Rain… Is that sun I saw on the CairnGorm webcams in the afternoon !!
Getting Close To Tahoe (2.30pm PST)
Shortly after Echo Summit Highway 50 starts to descend towards the Tahoe Basin, however it doesn’t so much descend as plunge precariously! This is the point for those who aren’t the best with heights to close their eyes and pray (though preferably not if driving). Photos can never do this section of road justice for it’s sheer exposure. For all effective purposes the mountain ends, a thousand feet below your right tyres Highway 89 winds through the woodland on the way to Kirkwood.