Mt. Baldy (Lake Tahoe), Jan 17 2009

random trip report

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(Thanks to Linda for most of the pictures)

I hook up with a Sierra Club outing to climb Mt. Baldy (on the north side of Lake Tahoe) on snowshoes. I drive up to Sacramento the night before in nightmarish traffic, have dinner with Don and Gayle, and stay at the Colfax Motor Lodge (recommended).

The group, fueled by Egg McMuffins and grease/potato pucks, convenes at the Colfax MacDonald's parking lot at 7 AM, We merge into two cars and drive to the trailhead: 267 to Dolly Vardon Rd., L on Wolf, R on Cutthroat, park at the end of the road.

The group is diverse, friendly, and well-matched: Kathi the leader, me, Darshan and Linda, Victoria from Lodi, Piero, Julie.

We go up the utility road on the left, follow it for about a mile to where some power lines pass over it, then follow the lines uphill (alternatively, one can head into the forest earlier and keep left).

It's a beautiful, sunny day. Kathi is concerned about snow cover, but it turns out to be adequate; occasionally one has to navigate some brush.

After a half mile or so, we veer left towards the hilltop. At the top is a knob with a magnificent view of most of the lake. We go down the back of the knob, dropping maybe 50'. We veer slightly to the right, through forest, and follow the gradient up the hill. The forest thins out and the ridge narrows somewhat; stay on the right side. It's pretty steep; Julie and Victoria set a brisk pace which I can't quite match.

Darshan powering up steep hill

... and Kathi too

The ridge reaches a rocky outcrop.

From there, it flattens out a bit; we follow the ridge another few hundred yards to the top, and hang out for quite a while. We can see a hundred miles in all directions; Mt. Lassen is clearly visible to the north.

My pictures came out overexposed

Kathi has a styrofoam glissade-sled strapped to her pack, smooth side outwards. She puts her pack down and at some point it starts to slide, picks up speed quickly, and ends up a hundred yards down the hill (lucky; it could have gone much farther) Victoria fetches it.

We head down. There are sporadic attempts to use the sled, but it doesn't work well in convex terrain; once you get off line you need to stop. We discuss various rudder and keel possibilities.

We have a minor incident. We're following our own tracks back down. The group gets ahead of Kathi, whose knee is sore. We stop to wait, and ten minutes go by. We shout and blow whistles - nothing. So we decide that Piero will go up, and Darshan will go down to the knob. Fortunately there's cell phone coverage. After a while Darshan calls - Kathy was at the knob. Somehow she went around us - it couldn't have been by more than 100' - and we failed to see each other.

On the way to the knob, Piero finds his blue/black fleece jacket, which fell off his pack on the way up. This is celebrated by all.

Sparkling lake

The walk and drive back are pleasant. Kathi tells me about the Stephens trail, which starts in Colfax and goes about 4 miles down to the north fork of the American river. I'll give that a try some time.

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