Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Mt. Tallac Hike

There is nothing quite like an unexpected gift.

I woke up a little late today, but in no real rush. Wednesdays I usually go to work from 1pm to 5pm, so waking up at 10am instead of an hour earlier really didn't change much for me today. I was contemplating hiking up Mt. Tallac, but didn't have enough time before work. I thought about hopping on WoW for a minute, but I knew that minute would quickly turn into two hours, and I'd be on my way to work--grumbling about a wasted morning.

I decided to head to the Mt. Tallac trail head, with the intent of hiking a few miles in to either Crystal or Cathedral lakes. I hiked about a mile in and decided to take a quick breather, and check my phone to see how much time I had before work. I was hoping I could make it to the lakes and back, but it was going to be close.

I grabbed my phone out of my backpack and turned it on. I wasn't really thinking about getting service, I was just interested in checking the time--but the phone came alive with 4 out of 5 bars, and quickly chimed that I had a voicemail message. I checked my voicemail, and it turned out to have two messages. I was expecting a call from Kristen about her and Conor's plans to come up this weekend, but I wasn't sure who the other call was.

It was Flo, from work. No doctors were coming in today, so if I didn't want to work, I didn't have to... Hallelujah! I got this big grin on my face, because I knew I could now take it slow, and also make it to the peak! The other call was from Kristen, and it turns out her, Conor, Barb and Roxie will all be carpooling up on Saturday--so that was more good news!

The first few miles to the lake were nice and shaded, and not too steep. There were a couple areas that had burned along the trail, apparently from ash falling in the Angora Fire at the beginning of July. A couple was swimming in Cathedral Lake when I arrived, so I decided to save my swim for the way back. The trail got a lot rougher past the lakes. There was hardly any shade (I didn't bring sun screen, just a big, floppy hat), and it was a steep, gravel-filled trail.

I zoomed past a few people hiking their way up (from the Bay area--not acclimatized to the 6-9k elevation of the hike), then I found a group of about six 12-15 year old girls, along with their two chaperones. Apparently they were waiting for one of the couples I passed, who were also chapperones. I passed the group, and then about two minutes later I hear voices behind me. Two of the girls were busting it up the trail behind me, and eventually passed me about ten minutes later.

I could hardly believe it. I mean, I'm not in shape or anything, but I am an athletic, 25-year-old male, with a very long stride. These two girls passed me like I was an 80-year-old man with a cane! Nothing like getting passed by girls half your age to make you feel old!

Back to the trail itself... if I hadn't already read up on it, and known that the first little peak you come to isn't the actual peak--I would have been very miffed. You climb this really tough section and make it to the top of what you can see from the bottom--only to find that you are on a wind-ripped plateau, with another two miles of trail ahead of you. The plateau had some amazing wild flowers though, so I wasn't too bummed--along with an amazing view. A hike up to there would be plenty good enough for me usually, but I needed to get a good pre-John Muir hike in, and I wanted to see what all the hype about "best view in Tahoe" was about.

I passed a "Mt. Tallac this way" marker, and started to get giddy. The two girls were probably already up at the peak, but the rest of the gaggle were well behind me, so at least I wasn't completely shamed on this trip.

Made it to the peak at right around 1:30pm, which made for a 2.5 hour hike up the mountain. Granted, I didn't stop too often, or lolly-gag, but that is a pretty good time for a 3200ft elevation gain, 5-mile hike. The view from the top was simply amazing. Towards Lake Tahoe, you could see nearly the entire lake, easily the best view I've seen of the lake. I did a 360 video from the tippy-top of the peak, and I could literally see a dozen different tiny lakes in the mountain range, which I had no idea existed. It was a very cool spot to be on a Wednesday afternoon :)

Two other ladies were up at the peak, and they had quite a chipmunk audience. There was one fat chipmunk, who was the most aggressive, and he would chase away the skinny chipmunks. The two ladies kept trying to get the skinny ones food, but the bully would get the morsel every time. Damn bullies.

It probably only took an hour and a half of hiking to get back down, but I stopped for 30 minutes at Cathedral Lake for a swim and to give my water-filter a test run before the John Muir hike.

I got back into town and went directly to the cheap Mexican place and ordered a burrito. I had water on the trip, but no food--so I was huuungry!

The hike was great--water filter worked like a charm, and my boots were near-perfect. The only gripe I have is that the laces kept getting caught in the opposite boot, which had me face-planting every hour or so. I'll have to find out a better way to get those damn things out of the way! My feet are a bit sore, but that is to be expected after my first 10-mile hike in years. Hopefully this hike will build up a bit of toughness in my feet, so the soreness doesn't come around for the big hike next week!

Pictures: (pretty much in order from what I described above)

Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe
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Burn-victim shrubs
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Cathedral Lake
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A higher shot of Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe
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Roughest Section
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Purple? pretty wild flowers
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Getting Close!
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Made it!
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On Top of the World!
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Blogger Schaubs said...

Nice work Hiker/WoW-spice. I would never ever make it. Just awesome.

8:58 AM  
Blogger Ginny said...

Definitely a WOW!
But hiking in scrubs?
Are those the only pants you have?

11:58 AM  
Blogger BrainMc said...

I had to laugh about the hiking attire as well. I'm glad I started reading your blog, I would have never thought of going to Lake Tahoe, but I have now added it to our list of future vacations. The pix you've been posting are awesome and it's just the kind of things that Stacie and I love to see and do. Enjoy Seattle and I look forward to more lush hikes in the Great NorthWest.

8:02 AM  

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