South lake Tahoe splits between two states. Nevada and California. Nevada is a place where you can get hookers (legal acceptance in prostitution), a place where you can stay in the one and only hostel in town (without a hooker of course), and a place that has plenty of places to hike to hilltops and explore.
Before I had left Sacramento, I had been browsing a bit on couch surfing.org, and my search was near Lake Tahoe. I scanned over a profile, the guy named Wolfie have had over 90 positive references, and had a hostel. I had never been to Lake Tahoe, and I have never experienced staying at a hostel, so I thought, why not? I was hoping there would be a good story to come out of it.
I wanted to come to South Lake Tahoe, was to stay at a hostel that I had found on Couchsurfing.org. It might be shocking to hear that I have never stayed at a hostel yet in my travels. I thought my previous car had good enough space to sleep in, and best of all, it was cheap. Now that I have a van, I had found it was less likely that I would spend my money on a shared sleeping space with stranger. This time around I am on a kick for experiences.
Don’t get me wrong. When I say strangers, my definition doesn’t coincide with feelings of fright, or discomfort with someone I do not know yet.
MELLOW MOUNTAIN HOSTEL
Come find your impermanence at the Mellow Mountain Hostel! If you want to head to an exciting place tucked away in the mountains, venture to South Lake Tahoe and do just that, because it’s worth it.
There are many things to do near the hostel. Walking one block to the North of the hostel brings you in the state of Nevada. Where there it's legal to gamble and get hookers, so if you want to party it up, there is the Hard Rock Hotel down the street. If you never want to step foot into Nevada, you can chill in California, where you can start you day at the Heavenly ski resort, or eat some of the best sushi Naked Fish.
I arrived on a Friday, met Wolfie. A great guy, one with a relaxed spontaneous nature, who runs the hostel with a friend, and has his 2 dogs by his side throughout the days I was there.
Wolfie let me know that Fridays usually mean a new crowd of travelers coming in. He offered me a beer, showed me around the place and gave me a key to my dorm, which held 2 bunks, and fitted 4 guests. I noticed there was a bed that was unmade, and that meant I had a dorm mate. I took out my ukulele while I waited for whomever it was to arrive to so I could introduce myself.
The common area had an open kitchen that people were cooking at each night, couches that had people resting in, a map to pin your hometown on, a table turned into ping pong, and a patio.
I never had much experience being around mountains, snowboards or much of any sports. The thing I tend to think about when it comes to skiing or snowboarding, is the Sonny Bono. Yes, like ‘Sonny and Cher’.
When I was seven years old, I heard someone tell me about a man named Sonny, who was famous, and died while skiing. I first became aware of what “death” meant, also, that there was a sport where you glide down mountains with a board across your feet, in cold snow, and apparently you can die if you hit a tree. Whoa. Intense. That incident opened the door in my mind to the thoughts and feeling of what it was meant to be living and the thoughts about dying.
When I found my way to the porch, a few people and I were in conversation, watching the sunset’s reflection on top of the mountains canvas of empty ski lifts and bare trees on the hillsides of Heavenly. I was mentioning my thought process on Sonny Bono. It became an ironic situation when someone told me that was the exact mountain Sonny died on, and I was looking right at it.
I met a handful of people in such a short amount of time. It felt great to be apart of a community for a few days.
I first met Zach, because he was my dorm mate. In the days 4 days I ended up staying at Mellow Mountain, I had learned that Zach was a quiet, laid back guy. He did a lot of cooking in that communal kitchen area, and had made the best soup I’ve ever had in my life. IT WAS SO GOOD. Zach uses those skills in life, and works as a sue chef, and does seasonal work in the mountains. He travels as much as he can, and carries a wonderful sense of stillness to him.
Then there were two cute British’s girls, Kirsty and Tori. These two ladies have known each other since childhood, and decided to go traveling the states together, and let me tell you what, they were hilarious! They never ate anything but strawberry pop tarts and granola bars. The slang they used was great, and made me laugh when they used the terms “fussy” and “bar maids”.
I met a girl from New Zealand named Anna. whom I instantly connected with. Anna is a live in, and helps out around the hostel. She proudly calls herself a Tahoian, because she loves living here. This girl cooks the best veggie lasagna I’ve ever eaten, and is a great person to get a real conversation in with. I don’t want to make assumptions, but I’m pretty she is going under the best friends list. Anna kept warning me about Tahoe, and how it is called "Ta-hole", because like herself, she got caught up in the magnificent moments, that she decided to stay.
I also met Danyal, a mountain man who has chosen to live that –season to season work. Whether that he would be in the mountains working at the ski resorts, doing things like lift operations, or if that means making his way to Alaska to do summer seasons.
There was a guy named Tonka, who is mix of a burner, a woodworker and hitch hiker with a bad ass sign. There was Colin, a kind kid, trying to find work on the mountain for the season. Carlos, also a first timer at the hostel who has been a WFC fighter. That was the gist of the common area crowd.
Hiking The Trails
The next day, Anna and Danyal proposed an idea to go explore some trail heads. The three of us packed up in Stan and headed out.
The first trail we wondered to was Kiva Park. It was a small stroll to a beach front view of the Lake.
The next was a minor hike to Eagle Falls, which was around the underbelly of the lake, around 40 minutes southwest of Heavenly. They both were nice and easy trails with some rare scenic nature-esque views.