DISTANCE: 12.16 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 3807 ft.
TIME TAKEN: 7:01 hours
SUMMIT: 9735 feet
ELDORADO COUNTY, CA
My brother Alex is one my favorite people to go hiking with, not only because I've known him for most of my life, and we get along pretty well, but I also know what to expect from him as far as his hiking appetite and endurance, and we seem to be pretty evenly matched. In addition, Alex has worked over the years doing trail maintenance for the Forest Service in the backcountries of Nevada, Montana, Idaho and New Mexico, so he knows his way around a damn trail! He even took me on my first ever backpacking trip when I went to visit him in Montana in the summer of 2016! His experience in the outdoors in vastly greater than mine, and it's nice to have him around should any questions or problems arise; I have a lot to learn from him still.
OK, at that point I started writing about what happened on Saturday afternoon as we were driving to Lake Tahoe, and what happened when we got to the campground. I realized you may not want to read that bullshit, because it has nothing to do with the hike at all! So I'm going to include that part at the very end as "bonus material."
|Early sunlight 'pon th'mount|
|At the summit|
|Descending to Fallen Leaf|
Right now, Alex is living back in Oakland and only has Sundays off work, and were were waiting for a time when we both had that day off so we could go for a mountain hike somewhere. Sunday, October 13th looked promising. Alex picked the region: Lake Tahoe, and I chimed in that I already had a mountain in mind to tackle. He chimed in that he would probably be free by mid-Saturday, so I planned accordingly. Damn, this might even turn into a camping trip! Whimsically, I looked up the closest public campground to the Tallac trailhead, Fallen Leaf, to see if there were any sites available. It turned out that October 13th was the last day of the season, and YES, there were three sites available to choose from! So we could cruise up to Tahoe the afternoon before, and camp out.
We left Oakland at 1:30PM on Saturday, October 12, and tried to cut through some delta backroads to avoid the omnipresent traffic on Interstate 80 (yes, even on Saturday, even in the middle of the day). It probably would have been faster to just sit on the damn freeway for awhile, because when we got to the town of Ryde, there was a car accident blocking both lanes of the highway, and we had to turn around and go all the way back to the previous bridge that crossed the Sacramento River, and come all the way back up along the other side of the river in order to continue. We also made a wrong turn at some point that had us seriously deep in the bayou backcountry. I half expected to see John Fogerty come around the next bend on a log raft. Eventually, we got to interstate 5, where a new, unexpected traffic jam had formed by the time we got there. So much for cutting around the traffic!
We crawled into Sacramento, through it, and out to Folsom where we stopped at a grocery store for supplies. A burrito from a shop in the same plaza was my first meal of the day. Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, the sky over the Central Valley had been hazy the whole time. No sight of the mountains. Even more disappointing, the sky remained hazy as we began twisting up into the hills. In fact, it was rather smoky! When we rounded the bend on Highway 50 into the Tahoe basin, I could see a thick cloud of smoke blanketing the area. There must be a forest fire somewhere. This could negatively affect the quality of tomorrow's hike! We got into town and learned from a local that the smoke was from a controlled burn near Carson Pass. (Well, good thing it wasn't a wildfire! And also, good thing we didn't decide to hike at Carson pass that day!)
The trip continued flawlessly as we went to find our campsite at Fallen Leaf, which we discovered to be occupied already by a large family, and by that late hour they were well settled in. Alex took the initiative confronting the occupiers, and things were figured out. Yes, they were in our campsite, and we would go find and occupy the campsite that the Parbhu family was SUPPOSED to be in, so they wouldn't have to move all of their stuff. It worked out rather well, because instead of getting our original tiny site in heart of the campground ghetto, we got a gigantic RV sized site on the edge of the camp with absolutely NO close neighbors. We joked that as soon as we set up camp the REAL Parbhu family would arrive and ask us what the fuck we were doing in their site! Alex and I cooked some dinner, drank a good amount of beers, and went stumbling around the lake under a full October moon. The sight of smoke in the air made things look quite mysterious, and the smell added a distinct autumnal vibe. We were crashed out in our tents before midnight.