It’s been a few weeks since I’ve gone hiking. Life, work and my boyfriend’s injured foot meant more mountain biking and less time to commit to a long-distance nature walk.
So I was excited that I had Saturday to hike, and had grand plans to go to Lake Schmidell, located in the center of the Desolation Wilderness. I hadn’t banked on the gray changeable weather that greeted me that morning, but figured that we (the dog and I) would go as far out as we could until the rain/snow/windstorms arrived. The early morning clouds did mean that I was rewarded with an awesome sunrise.
The brief bit of sun was quickly obscured by clouds, and then wind, and then some rain. I decided to turn back a few miles from Schmidell, instead taking a long loop back via Fontanellis Lake. It was there that I bumped into a few long distance trail runners, 2 middle aged guys with their dog who were running trails from Echo Lakes to Barker Pass along the PCT – 20 some odd miles? I was more impressed with their dog doing that run than with them, as that’s a long distance for a dog. Soleil was more impressed with her stick than the dog.
Clearly pleased with herself
While evidence of last week’s storm is visible on the north facing slopes, it’ll be awhile until Dick’s Peak is truly skiable. I’m staying optimistic that we’ll see another cold snap this month, as Tahoe’s economy, so reliant upon tourism, could use an early and long winter season.
snow on Dick's Peak
We made it back to the car right before the drizzle began in earnest, and while the Bayview parking lot had a number of cars in it, I only saw 3 groups of hikers – all in the last 3 miles – all day. Which is exactly why I love hiking in the autumn.
A friend called me yesterday to invite me on a full moon/sunrise hike up Mt. Tallac, and while the notion of waking up at 3.30 am wasn’t all that thrilling, the idea of hiking in cooler temps was. So I sacrificed a few hours of sleep to make the 4 am trailhead call.
Not many photos were taken, primarily because once the sun came up it was pretty hazy. However, in between climbing up 3,000 feet and batting away the $#&# early-rising mosquitoes, I did capture a few of the sun rise.
And we were far from the only ones with the same idea. We saw about ten other groups of people who had done the same thing, and encountered even more people as we descended. Refreshing to see others were willing to make the slog at the ungodly hour of late.
And my feet hate me. I’m trying to break in my new beefy Scarpa hiking boots for our upcoming trip to Switzerland, as we’re planning on doing a 3 day hut-to-hut hike in the Valais region. While I ordered the boots well over a month ago, a stupid foot injury has prevented me from doing much walking the past two weeks. With our departure date looming I decided to get out there today, and hiked to Lake Aloha with the dog, starting from the Lily Lake trailhead.
The good news is that the boots supported the part of my foot that had been tender. The bad news is that after 12 miles my toes were not all that happy. They’re still not talking to me 2 hours later. However, I’ve got a back up pair of shoes I’m going to bring, and I’m hoping that planning-for-contingency results in no foot discomfort whatsoever.
Trail conditions are much snowier this year than last, and I got to test out the boots on a number of snowbanks between Susie Lake and Lake Aloha. The dog was, as usual, thrilled, and seems to have recovered from any disappointment over failing Friday’s audition.
Right now I’m feeling my age – and feet. Twelve miles didn’t used to exhaust me like this. Dunno how I’m going to cope with 42 kilometers next month, but the promise of hiking in the land of chocolate will no doubt provide incentive.
The weather began to change here last week, and once we got over the shock of not being uncomfortably hot during the day, figured it was the perfect opportunity for a longer hike.
Having dug out the zip-on bottoms to the hiking shorts and the warmer jacket, packed up some artisanal sandwiches and a few biscuits for the dog, we headed out to hike the Aloha loop with a few detours. We hit four lakes (Susie, Heather, Clyde and Aloha), with lunch on a rock overlooking Aloha as the dog chased after driftwood logs. Instead of just following the trail down the rocky and steep (and no longer marked on Desolation Wilderness trail maps) “Tamarack Trail”, we jumped off it to another trail that climbs up to an overlook on the top of Angora Ridge. The Angora Fire’s devastation was quite amazing from this vantage point, including the so-called ‘hot burn’ area. Ironically, this was the day the camera battery died before we’d even left the house.
The descent down the Tamarack trail is challenging, and while we rarely see anyone coming up or down, this time we did encounter a group of 5 backpackers clambering up over the steep ledges and pushing through the overgrowth as we descended. The terrain is unforgiving on knees, and by the time we got to the car, the three of us were all done for the day. And the evening.
In fact, we bailed on a film premiere we were supposed to go to that night and were in bed by 8:00 pm. One more reason why we’re not really the ones to come to for recommendations on Tahoe nightlife.
With the 52,000 acre Moonlight Fire raging north of Lake Tahoe, we’ve had hazy skies all week. While forecasts have optimistically noted that the smoke would soon leave the basin, it has not, leaving us with hazy skies more reminiscent of Los Angeles than Lake Tahoe.
Regardless, the dog and I went hiking today, since the double whammy of Sunday and post-Labor Day meant far fewer people at the Glen Alpine trailhead. In the interest of Princess Wubber’s need for regular water, I selected a trail that would pass by 5 lakes – Half Moon, Susie, Heather, Aloha and Clyde. The latter is a favorite of mine, though it’s pretty far in, nearly 2 miles past Aloha over Mosquito Pass. But its relative distance means that in addition to deep azure waters surrounded by granite cliffs you get a lake to yourself, making the slog totally worth it.
The hazy sky gave all the lakes a steelier sheen than we usually see, and for some reason (global warming?) there were excessive clouds of buzzing gnats at Half Moon and the north end of Susie, something I’ve not seen before.
Approaching Heather Lake
A low Aloha
However, the water was refreshing, the dog sampled sticks of varying sizes to complement her lake swims, and the few people we did encounter were pretty nice.
Prancing is her MO
Total mileage – 19.7 miles over a leisurely eight hours. Both the dog and I are pretty tired right now – she more than me though.
It’s been awhile since our last long hike in Desolation, so we decided to venture out to Lake Schmidell on Saturday. It’s a little over 9 miles from the Bayview Trailhead (our trailhead of choice, since descending a dusty horse trail is much easier on the knees than the rocky steps of the Eagle Falls trailhead), and takes you into the Rockbound Wilderness are of Desolation, whose reddish rocks are quite different from the grey granite of the Aloha basin. We were lucky enough to have some residual clouds from the moisture of Friday’s welcome rains, which was a nice change after days of cloudless blue sky.
Clouds over the Crystal Range
We saw a few backpackers en route to Schmidell, but our destination was quiet and devoid of anyone when we arrived. The dog and I attempted to swim, but the water temperature was surprisingly cold – much colder than Middle Velma.
Debating a full on dunk
With brie sandwiches on asiago bread to fuel our hike back, fast-moving clouds along with a breeze, the afternoon part of the hike was perfect. Admittedly everyone was a tad bit tired by the time we got back to the car, but in a good way. And after a few nights of insomnia, I was guaranteed a good nights sleep. So was the dog, not that sleeping is ever an issue for her.
Dog with a view