Castle peak redux

random trip report

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It snowed a lot in the Sierras this winter. M and I wanted to go up and snowshoe (as we did in 2021 and 2022), but it always seemed to be stormy. Even last week there was a freak late storm. But this week the weather looks OK, and we head up.

Tuesday 9 May

We're on the road at 9:55 - ahead of schedule! I had a mostly sleepless night and am tired and cranky. The drive to the Boreal sno-park is smooth.

We follow the ski tracks that go up the W side of the valley. M has her new Montem poles, but one of the clamps has disappeared. I have my new Atlas Helium snowshoes, which are cheaper and lighter than my old MSRs. I immediately like them better. The binding (once I figure it out) is very easy to put on and adjust. They're also quieter on the snow.

The snow is extremely deep, like 10-12'. It's in the low 50s and the snow is heavy and mostly compacted - pretty good snowshoe conditions.

We stop for lunch - salad and hard-boiled eggs.

An aggro skier whizzes past about 6" away from us; apparently we're impinging on his track.

New gloves from Daniel

After about 2 miles we reach the ridge at the top of the valley, and there's a short steep part. I scramble up this and at the top I get off the track and go through some virgin snow. At the same time the (awesome) view on the far side of the ridge opens up.

Until this point I've been in 'defensive mode': trying to survive with a minimum of discomfort, marshalling my scant energy. But as if a switch had been flipped, I'm suddenly energized and empowered. I'm in control now, rather than just surviving.

We're at the left end of the ridge. It's level for 200 yards or so, and at the right end it becomes much steeper, leading up to a large rock, then another longer ridge up to the summit.

I went to the large rock just L of center

I decide to make it as far as the rock. This is a self-assessment: the steep part is similar to Avalanche Gulch on Mt. Shasta, and I want to see how it feels.

It feels pretty good. I settle into a nice rhythm, with a little 'rest step', and my pulse and respiration are in the comfort zone. It feels like I could do this all day.

I reach the rock and wave down to M. Then I descend the slope, which is a little harder because there's less traction. I slip and land on my butt, but it's too soft to glissade. So I zig-zag a little and that works fine.

We head down the steep part, going directly down in deep virgin snow - fun! The walk back is fast and pleasant.

I leave M at the trailhead and jog back to the car. The missing clamp from her pole is in the trunk - woo hoo!

We drive to Truckee and to the 'Gravity Haus', which turns out to be the same place we stayed last year, with a new name and marketing strategy! The same oddly complex shower faucets. But I think they now let you control the temperature of your room.

Dramatic clouds appear, and it rains for the rest of the evening. We go into town, looking for dinner and/or beer. Alibi Ale Works looks promising, but a trivia night is in progress with a too-loud ampified MC. Instead we go to Old Town Tap, where we went last time, and we order the same thing (kale/sausage mac and cheese in my case). I get a pine-infused IPA from nearby Good Wolf Brewing.

We do a hot tub, which is a little odd with ice-cold rain falling on our faces.

Wed 10 May

We go to the Cornerstone Bakery in Truckee and get coffee and pastries - highly recommended! Then we drive down 89 to Lake Tahoe, looking for a place to hike and/or snowshoe. This is hard because of parking.

Eventually we go to Sugar Pine Point State Park, which is down by the lake. We walk along a rocky beach,

past a boathouse containing an aluminum speedboat from the 1920s, back through the forest,

out a pier,

up to a fancy mansion that is now a museum.

View from the patio


Self reference

A group of tourists of high ethnic diversity seems to dog us. The idea of rich people owning big chunks of this land infuriates me.

We drive past Emerald Bay, then pull off at Bayview trailhead, which seems to have some snow. We snowshoe up to the top of a minor hill, which is hella fun.

We continue on Hwy 50 out of Tahoe. I decide to pull off at the Horsetail Falls trailhead near Twin Bridges, which is the starting point of many of my best adventures. There was major fire damage in this area. We walk up the trail for a mile or so. The fraction of dead trees seems to lessen as we go up. Horsetail Falls has a lot of water.

Lover's Leap just down the road

We continue down to Sacramento, and have dinner at the Tower Cafe, which lives up to my memory of it.

Summary: short but sweet. I felt good except for the sleep thing. Might be fun to rent a cabin and spend more days in a row.

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