Early winter at Lake Tahoe tends to result in recreational limbo. There’s not enough snow to ski beyond the few resort groomers, and there’s too much snow on the trails to mountain bike or hike.
So low-expectation explorations are required if one doesn’t want to head to lower elevations for snow-free trails. On Sunday we headed out to Carson Pass, near Kirkwood, for some low-angle touring with the dog. We knew it would be rocky, but were a bit surprised by just how many were still visible. After negotiating the approach to Winnemucca Lake (usually much easier in deeper snow pack), we decided to attempt skinning up towards the saddle next to Round Top. Conditions were bare enough for us to quickly recognize the folly of that goal. So after a few hundred feet of up, we headed down. It was a nasty, brutish descent, with wind affected snow that didn’t do much to hide the rocks lurking underneath, and some ugly survival skill like turns on my part.
But it was a glorious day to be out, and it was nice to feel the rhythm of skinning again, even if it was mostly cross-country.