Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Camping with Kristina

Plum tuckered! I am pooped! I had an amazing time with Kristina and the dogs yesterday and this morning. The hike was short and sweet, and after running into three different groups within 10 minutes at the trail head, we only saw one other group the entire hike, who were off in the distance on the other side of Island Lake.

We met up at the Carr Lake trail head, which is just northwest of the Hwy 20/Hwy 80 Junction near Donner Pass. The road from Hwy 20 to Carr Lake was amazingly fun to ride my bike on. Paved, lots of sharp turns--fun fun!

Fun until the pavement ended, and the gravel began. My bike is a street bike, not an off-road vehicle. I got nice and jarred for about 4 miles, not going faster than 15mph. A few of the potholes bounced me up off the seat--I'm not planning on riding any gravel roads again anytime soon.

I actually ended up catching up to Kristina on the gravel road about a mile from the trail head. Coming from opposite directions, we had pretty good timing!

Kristina brought a really nice, big backpack. She had a nice 2-man tent, a stove, dinner, breakfast, dog food, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, change of clothes. I had my college backpack with one shirt, two pairs of socks, a nalgene of Chardonnay, a 1.5l bottle of Syrah, water, cheese, crackers, sleeping bag, water filter. Her pack was probably twice as heavy as mine. I felt bad and offered to switch, but she thinks she's tougher than me and wouldn't allow it. Thinks.

We had a rough idea of where we wanted to hike. There are literally hundreds of lakes up near Carr Lake, and we saw camping spots 100ft from the trail head. We were thinking about heading up to Penner Lake, which is about 4 miles from the trail head. We passed by Feely Lake, which is a big man-made reservoir. The dogs decided to jump in, then we started playing a fun game of fetch with a stick:

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I don't think I've ever played fetch with a dog in water before, good times! We headed further along the trail, and the next lake we hit looked picturesque. It couldn't have been more than two miles from the trail head, but there was a great, shady camping spot where we dropped our packs off and scouted around for better possible sites. Luckily for us, we climbed the small ridge and found an even more amazing lake, which turned out to be Island Lake:

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Kristina thought she saw a good campsite across the water on a little peninsula, so we grabbed our packs and headed over that way. She was right, the site was amazing! It had large, flat spots for at least three other tents, and a big fire pit with downed logs as makeshift benches. One of the nicest camping sites I've ever been to.

We set up camp, then decided to go take a dip before doing some hiking around with the dogs. We swam out to a nice-looking rock about 30ft from shore. I'll call it an island, why not? The lake has multiple islands in it, varying in size and proximity to shore. Why it is called Island Lake, I may never know.

We got back to camp and were refreshed and ready to do some backpackless hiking around, so we headed up towards Penner Lake. We stuck to the path for a while, then saw some nice rock formations and headed over to them. I got a little bit of rock-climbing in, and the dogs had a good time hopping from rock to rock.

We hiked on and found Round Lake, which unlike Island Lake has absolutely no similarity to its name. It definitely wasn't round, so I'm not sure who named that lake, but they did a poor job. Peanut would have been much more fitting. We played more lake-stick-fetch at Round Lake:

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After a dozen or so tosses, I think all four of us were ready to head back to camp and get a little food in. We got a little lost, and ended up on some rather dangerous rocks that cliffed down into Island Lake. Kristina and I had to boost the dogs a few times to climb around the rocks and get back to camp, but the view from the rocks was amazing, and we stopped to take a few more pictures:

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We made it back to camp and I busted out the cheese and crackers, which were enjoyed by all four of us. I would have brought a chunk of salami, but Kristina is a vegematarian, so I spared her my carnivorous ways. It was still yummy, and with Kristina's trail mix, we ended up having a very good snack.

We decided to go swimming again, and we brought the nalgene of Chardonnay out to the rock with us this time. Ended up getting a bit more sun than we thought, but it felt perfect catching rays out on the rock in the middle of a mountain lake. While we were out on the rock, Kristina spied a group of four over by the cliffs we were at earlier. I couldn't see six feet from my face, but I was able to make out a little bit of movement in the distance.

I always find it neat to be able to hear so much further up in nature, with so much less ambient noise. As I'm typing this, I'm listening to some Eric Clapton in our living room. Cody and a friend of George are also in the living room playing on their laptops. The front door is open and I can hear a steady stream of cars on Hwy 50. On the island with Kristina and the dogs, we could hear bits of their conversation at least 200 feet away. Sound also carries much better over water, but I find it so cool how you can be 30 feet away from a friend and talk like they are within arm's reach.

After baking in the sun long enough, free from mosquitos out on the island, we headed back to camp and Kristina started up our Indian Fare dinner while I pumped water. It was my first use of my water filter I got for xmas, and it worked amazingly well. It took me a while to figure out how to connect all the tubes and get the lever to work right, but once I got it setup, it only took less than a minute to fill a nalgene of water! I'm used to spending 5-10 minutes slaving away over a water filter, getting drops of water every pump. I guess those days are over!

The Indian Fare was amazing, even without the usual rice. We added cheese and crackers to the mix to give it a little more character, and two packets filled both of us up. We retreated to the tent to play some cards, I got crushed at Crazy 8's, and lost the massage bet. Then we played a game of knock, and I got wasted and lost the waking up and making breakfast bet. But. But! I did finally play some Chinese Poker, and bet the all-important FOOT massage, and finally won a bet. My last hand I had not one, but TWO full houses, which has got to be near-unbeatable. I did lose my 3rd hand, which had AQ7--losing to her pocket 2's, bah!

We made good on our bets, then decided to catch the sunset from up the hill a ways. It was pretty, and made prettier by our little jug of wine :)

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We failed to drink all of the wine, but it was admittedly a very tall task. We tried valiantly, and both had hangovers in the morning. Hers was worse than mine, because I can hold my alcohol. We decided to pass on breakfast, and I offered to buy breakfast at South Pine in Nevada City in lieu of my losing the breakfast bet the night before. She quickly agreed, and even with our hangovers, we left the campsite at 6:30am, as clean as we found it the day before.

I'm not sure what it is about waking up camping, but unless I really bust my ass the previous day, as soon as that sun hits the tent, I want to get up and moving. Except for me rushing a little this morning, our entire trip was the opposite of rushed. We had so much time, it was great. We didn't have to race against the sunset to setup camp, we got to swim twice, and we had plenty of time to relax and play cards.

South Pine was amazing this morning, but the two-hour ride on a full stomach was not! I made it back to Tahoe by 11am, which left me over an hour to nap before work, which I desperately needed. Work only lasted 3.5 hours, and I got a free Jamba Juice at the end of the day.

More camping this summer!

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Blogger Schaubs said...

Great road trip, and stumble.
I will not go down without a fight!

11:05 PM  
Blogger joecarroll said...

Sounds like fun. I'll be heading up there tommorow for some backpacking if the weather holds up.

Very detailed though, I like it.

8:29 AM  

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