The Season in Stride

By Kate Riley October 18, 2009

It’s not often I have the opportunity to get away for a few days, but whenever I do, I am so grateful.  This weekend gave me a chance to breath some mountain air in beautiful Lake Tahoe, on the border of Northern California and Nevada.  There is something about being in the mountains that forces one to appreciate the absolute beauty of nature.  Mountain air can’t help but clear the mind, lift the spirits, and fill the soul. 

Last year, the holidays were hectic for me.  My older brother was serving four months of military duty in Iraq.  So I invited my sister-in-law and her three young children to stay with us in order to distract from the absence felt from a husband overseas serving our country.  It was a very full house, filled with constant activity, but we did happen to make great memories.  This year, I want to approach the holidays in a different way.  I want these next months to be filled with quiet moments and simple pleasures.  This year, I want to slow down. 

The holidays are rapidly approaching, and so is the frenzied pace that seems to accompany the season.  Today, I decided to focus on what I want the holidays to be this year.  I began to create my ‘To Do’ list.  Not a list of mundane tasks, but a list filled with activities that live in the beauty of the moment.  So far, my List includes the following:  Bake something that is mouth-watering delicious.  Carve a fantastic pumpkin with my children.  Set an inviting Thanksgiving table.  Start a new tradition.  Create something stunningly beautiful for the season.  Remember Christmases past.  Have a truly magical moment. 

Today, I was able to check off one of the items from My Seasonal To Do List.

Seasonal Goal #1 – Take a Long Autumn Walk with Family

forest trees

Our country has so many scenic lakes, and Lake Tahoe is one of them.  We usually visit the lake in winter during the ski season, but this time we enjoyed the beauty of fall.  We had a great hike on Sunday, beginning at the vista of Emerald Bay.   

emerald bay

The hike down to the lake was filled with the best colors of autumn.

fall walk 

yellow leaves in tree

The forest floor was covered will all shades of amber, yellow, and green.

forest floor

I adore the yellows of fall just as much as I anticipate the daffodils of spring.  

yellow fern

forest leaves in yellow

Down at the lake on Emerald Bay, we enjoyed the beach amid the forest.

emerald bay beach

little guy on dock 

cg family on dock

There’s nothing like a forest hike for a stretch of the legs, and the imagination.

little guy in forest

sweet girl in tree

I wish you could smell the scents of this forest.

If only someone could bottle this, they’d be rich.

yellow leaves on branches

It was three hours at a leisurely pace exploring the trails of Lake Tahoe, climbing trees and searching for wildlife.  If I’d remembered to bring a tote, I would have brought home an entire collection of these beautiful pinecones for our home.

pine cones

pine cone

Three hours of hiking is plenty exercise for a three year old. 

little guy crashed 

Tomorrow, it’s back to business as usual.  I can’t wait to finish up some of the projects that are waiting for me back home.

Are you enjoying autumn in your town?  Do you have any special goals for the upcoming holidays ?


  1. Lovely photos and a great plan for the holidays. I just moved from Lake Tahoe to the Sonoma wine country a year ago and I know that autumn in Tahoe is truly beautiful. Our favorite thing was always the Kokanee Salmon Festival where you can see the Fall colors and also the salmon that are swimming upstream along Taylor Creek.

  2. Hi Kate – I am one of your many subscribers and am just ducking in to say I loved this post!
    It is years since I went to Lake Tahoe but it remains one of my favourite places in the world.
    Your photos brought me back there!
    Love the end photo of the ‘beaten hero’ – usually the state of my own kids after an exciting day-trip!

    Thanks for a lovely post and great blog!


  3. Looks like your family had a wonderful weekend. I love California so much that I would move out there if I could. We have traveled out there twice on vacation and the beauty is breath taking. This year my holiday season is going to be both crazy and busy. With a move coming in 3 weeks (800 miles) and trying to get settled into a new home, I just want to skip all the holidays. But I know that my parents will probably want to come up for Christmas and I do have a 15 yr. old son so I won’t be able to skip it. Somehow I will manage to get it all done but I won’t be enjoying it or happy about it. Oh my, I sound like a Debbie Downer. Sorry! Can you tell that I am stressed? LOL

  4. Girl – you are doing the important things!! And I sure can help you with starting the new traditions. :)
    I just did my frugal fashionista post about scarves, and there you have a gorgeous one…do you want me to add you and that cute fam picture? :) Love it!

  5. Oh what a sister you are!!! Thank you sister’s family for me, what would we do without them!!!

    m ^..^

  6. Beautiful photos! Autumn has definitely hit us here in the midwest. We are loving the cool days -perfect for snuggling and hot cocoa! Enjoy your weather!

  7. Three years ago on Thursday my husband and I arrived in Lake Tahoe for our honeymoon. One of the first things we did was to hike down to Emerald Bay. Thanks for sharing your photos- brings back many wonderful memories!

  8. I have a few spots on this earth that I want a little place to split my time when the kids are gone and leading their own lives. 1 is an apartment on Santana Row in San Jose. 2 is a cabin in Tahoe somewhere quaint and close to great skiing. Tahoe reminds me of great weekends with my dad. Spontaneous trips to ski, ride horses and eat pancakes at Ponderosa, sneaking into the Hyatt casino to watch my dad play, long delicious dinners, riding the truckee river in a raft, jet skiing on the lake, watching it snow, paddling in the lake letting the sun soak into me. Fabulous! Have a great day. Holly at

  9. Thanks for taking us along on your hike. That first view of the water is stunning. I bet your kids really were exhausted. :)

    I don’t blame you for wanting to slow down during the holidays this year. Last year, I ran around like crazy and made myself sick a few days before Christmas…couldn’t even really enjoy it. This year, the goal is to not only plan ahead, but to make PROGRESS ahead of time as well. My oldest turns 4 the first week in December, and I’d like to have her whole party planned out well in advance. :)

  10. We should all have the goal to slow down and enjoy the small moments with our family. Precious times, lovely photos!

  11. Sigh… I love fall! I have always wanted to go to Lake Tahoe. I had a friend who got married there, and I couldn’t go, but the pictures were so beautiful!

  12. Love your list, girl. Every year I “plan” to slow down and enjoy the moments, but I usually let the busyness get the best of me. Hopefully this year will be different! :)
    Those pictures are jaw-droppingly beautiful.

  13. Love this post – sounds like you have your priorities straight. I think I may need to make a holiday list like that as well!

  14. I knew instantly where you were – we went to Lake Tahoe last summer for the Celebrity Golf Tourney and loved it. I have some of those huge pinecones sitting in a basket in my bathroom right now – people laughed at me carrying them on the plane, but they aren’t nearly that big in Kansas :) Thanks for sharing the beauty!

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