Tahoe Jaunt

random trip report

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M and I drive to Truckee. On the way, we stop at the Sno-Park near Castle Peak for a reprise of last year's snowshoe hike.

The area got a lot - maybe 2' - of snow in the last couple of days. It's a warm day - mid 50s - so the snow is heavy and wet. Not ideal for snowshoeing. Fortunately skiers have packed down a track. The light is unbelievably bright.

In any case, for whatever reason, I'm not feeling it. My legs are made of lead, and I feel the altitude. I just keep moving, expending energy at a low but constant rate, hoping that a second wind will kick in. M feels pretty good, and lets me set the pace.

Castle Peak in the background

We take the left fork of the trail, which ascends the slope to the left of the meadow, and (I think) eventually curves around to the summit.

About a mile in, my right snowshoe is suddenly flopping around. The piece of thick plastic that attaches the footbed to the straps has torn, for no particular reason other than that plastic becomes brittle after 20 years. I use a bandana to strap the toe of my boot to the footbed. This works surprisingly well, and we continue.

After about 90 minutes of slog, I give up and we stop for lunch, sitting in deep snow since the rocks and stumps are buried. M has brought some grilled sandwiches which hit the spot. We notice that drops of water on the trees act as little prisms, and some of them shine brilliantly red or green. On the way back, my left snowshoe fails in exactly the same way - kind of a coincidence. I use a 2nd bandana to repair it the same way.

We get back to the car and drive to the 'Cedar House Sport Hotel', a mile or so outside of Truckee. It's a fairly groovy Euro-styled place, with a jacuzzi, which we use. It has a fancy restaurant (Stellas). But instead we decide to go to 'Old Town Tap', back in town, which turns out to be a good choice; M has a good salad, and I have Mac and Cheese with sausage and kale (good) and an Almanac 'Future is Fluid' IPA. We sit outside with heat lamps. Afterward we stroll the downtown area, and are almost run over by a horse that inexplicably is trotting on the sidewalk.

The hotel turns out to have a major flaw: you can't turn the thermostat below 70. If you want a cool room for sleep (which I do) all you can do is turn off the thermostat and open the window. I eventually discover this at 4 in the morning. I end up getting zero sleep.

We breakfast on the remaining sandwich and hard boiled eggs. There's in-room coffee which tastes OK but lacks jolt, so we supplement it with 7-Eleven coffee that is the opposite.

We drive down 89 and down the W side of the lake. It's very windy, which causes the lake to have lots of shades of blue - spectacular.

We park at Emerald Bay and hike up the trail to Eagle Falls.

The wind is absolutely howling in the pine trees. We continue past the falls. The trail is mostly covered in snow and we're in our boots, but the traction is OK, except when it's not.

For some reason I have tons of energy today. Something about the trail and the conditions blisses me out; I climb with a wide grin on my face.

Eventually the trail traverses across a very steep slope, where a slip would be disastrous. So we turn around. We're not that far - maybe a half mile - from the top of the valley, beyond which is Desolation Wilderness.

On the way down we take a detour down to the stream, which is a beautiful green pool at that point.

We take a break on a flat area of sun-warmed granite. An older but very athletic guy with white hair is sitting there; his pack has ice axe and crampons. I chat with him a while. He's about to leave the trail and head up a very steep ridge of mixed rock and snow, to a peak looming about 800' over the valley. I wish him luck; he says he's very good at finding safe routes.

We take another detour to ascend a rock outcrop.

We get back in the car and drive through S. Lake Tahoe and onto hwy 50. We pull off in Strawberry to check out Lover's Leap. Last year's forest fire badly burned that whole area, and about 20 miles to the west. Pretty catastrophic. We walk throught the (closed) campground and up the trail to the base of the climbing wall.

We drive to Sacramento and check out the Tower Cafe, which closed at 3. We continue to the Capitol Mall, which is nicely landscaped with a lot of species of trees.

M harasses a squirrel in a magnolia tree

I suggest we try 'In n' Out Burger' on the way back. We stop in Vacaville and M's phone gives us oddly inconsistent directions. We drive around for quite some time. When we finally locate the place, nothing appeals to M and we leave.

Back in Berkeley, we return M's snowshoes at REI. I consider showing them my ruined MSRs and demanding a new pair, but decide against it. I haven't used the MSRs a great deal, but they are 20 years old. I'll just get a new pair.

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