Category Archives: Family Nature Summits

At Family Nature Summits – Lake Tahoe Day 3

California figs – fresh!

This is Day 3 of Family Nature Summits.

If this was the workweek, it would be called Hump Day. But this is FNS at Lake Tahoe, California.

Isa wants to know why FNS is just five days of activities. Couldn’t we make it a few more days?

Sometimes plans change. I cancelled the hike that started at 7:20am to let Isa sleep a little longer. After she joined her Junior Naturalist Bears group, I found myself on my own. So I took a trail down from Gralibakken resort to downtown Tahoe City. It’s a hopping tourist town on Lake Tahoe.

Today was market day with the usual stands of fresh vegetables, cheese and olive oil. The peaches were large and colorful. The tomatoes were red and plump.

But the surprise was figs, perfect fresh green and purple figs. Of course! This is California where all our produce comes from.


In the afternoon, I managed to score a place in a workshop on Photographing Wildflowers.

Annie Cameron,a professional photographer, took us on several rural road in Tahoe National Forest. We practiced various techniques on lupines, forget-me-nots and yarrow.

I was embarrassed to be the only person with a phone camera. Everyone else had real cameras. But I got some great tips, which I hope to remember.


Isa’s highlight was her try at slacklining.

It looks like tightrope walking but the rope isn’t tight; it’s slack.

This is one of many activity that the Childcare children did after 3:30pm.

If a responsible adult isn’t available at the end of Junior Naturalist (3:30pm), the kids go to child care where the fun continues.

Two more days of fun!

At Family Nature Summits – Lake Tahoe Day 2

FNS hiking group

Another great hike at Family Nature Summits, this time to Donner Peak( 8,209 ft. high) and Mt. Judah (8,243 ft. high). We’re walking in the Tahoe National Forest with 18 hikers.

Dave L., our leader, shows us Donner Pass where the Donner party passed through in 1846.

If Donner sounds familiar, it was because the group of emigrants (that’s what they were called) were supposed to have eaten some of their party.

Donner Lake in the background

Today Donner Lake attracts swimmers, boaters and hikers but the history lives on of the exploits and travails of the settlers  who came to California for a better life.

Part of the hike was on the Pacific Crest Trail. It must be spring here since the trail sides are full of spring/summer flowers. Mule ears, shown at the top, were abundant.

On the way out, we walked through the railroad tunnels built by Chinese labor in the 1880s. The wall meant to hold these tunnels is referred to as the Chinese Wall.

Tunnels at Donner Pass

Now the tunnels have been abandoned by the railroads. Four-wheelers can drive through them and hikers can explore them.

In case you think that Family Nature Summits is all hiking, I want to convince you that it isn’t.

There are lots of activities for adults from easy rambles and flower walks to eco tours and even a book discussion. This year, they are discussing Wild, since we’re so close to the Pacific Crest Trail.

While I was hiking, Isa was hiking with the Bears, her Junior Naturalist group. She also did some nature studies in the creek. When I picked her up, she has a soaked sock full of “souvenir” rocks. And I didn’t even bother looking for the other sock.

Square dancing

In the evening, we had the traditional ice cream social and square dance.

FNS hires a local band and everyone dances. Square dancing is conducive to a large group, with many unattached people. Here’s Isa with her dance partner.


At Family Nature Summits – Lake Tahoe Day 1

Today I slept until 4:30 am. My jet lag is improving, as I try to get on local California time at Family Nature Summits.

Everything at Family Nature Summits seems to start at 8 am. So Isa and I have breakfast together. With daypacks and my hiking poles in hand, I walk her over to her Junior Naturalist program a few minutes early. She’s not the first one here.

At Five Lakes Trail

Then I fly down the hill to find my shuttle van to my first FNS hike – Five Lakes Trail in Tahoe National Forest.

At the trailhead, a sign tells you to watch out for unexploded military shells and explosives used for snow avalanche control. What?? Am I in a war zone?

Since the hike is partly in the Granite Chief Wilderness, the 12-hiker maximum rule applies, as it does nationally.

The trail is wide and generally smooth; after all, I’m out west. The land is open, filled with huge pine trees, with little understory. Indian paint-brush, bee balms and yarrow are some of the flowers that we recognize. But the wide open spaces and rocky landscape are stunners.

At the Treetop course

After I picked up Isa from Junior Naturalists, we both participated in a Treetop adventure. Even the easy beginner’s course wasn’t easy. It required concentration, balance and a healthy belief in the equipment.

We got suited up and we looked good. Then Isa and I hit the green course, the beginner section – green – of the Squirrel course, the beginner’s course. (The Monkey course is the advanced course.)

Both Isa and I were hesitant but we did the green course slowly. We had to do it twice to get promoted to the blue course.

I didn’t want to do the zip line, so I bailed out. Isa continued on to the blue course. With the help of the great staff, Isa finished the blue (intermediate) course.

Isa on zipline
On Treetop course

We were both exhausted and skipped the evening program.

We’re relaxing in our room and getting ready for another full day, tomorrow.