I was disappointed with myself over the summer because I only managed to go hiking twice. I hate that I live so close to so much awesome nature and I am not taking advantage of it. I intended to go more often, but work was busier than I expected it to be and I was super tired by the weekend. My boss is currently in China, so I made plans that coincided with him being abroad to actually get out and do something this past weekend (since I was fairly confident that I wouldn’t have to work unless there was an emergency). October is a great time to visit Tahoe because it’s between the super busy summer and winter seasons. And AUTUMNAL BEAUTY is around every corner.
Anyway, I drove up to South Lake Tahoe on Friday night so I didn’t I have to leave Sacramento at 4 am on Saturday. It was 27 degrees when I woke up and I wasn’t even sure I could get out of bed. I made it to the trailhead just after seven and there were only a couple of other cars there already. I had everything ready to go, but as I put my backpack on, I hit my elbow on the car door.
I laid in my backseat with my backpack on for about 20 minutes because I thought my elbow was broken. I hadn’t even started and I was already injured. The damn thing is still swollen and it hurts to grip anything when my arm is bent at less than a 90 degree angle. It was not a great start. I eventually forced myself to get going, but I was not happy about it. It was a beautiful and clear morning, so the outstanding views eventually overtook my bad attitude.
There was also snow which I hadn’t really expected. I had stalked location tags on Instagram and NO ONE had any pictures of snow, so I was bit surprised to see so much of it on the trail.
As you can imagine, the higher I got, the more snow there was. As several of you suggested after my hike at Loch Leven Lakes, I purchased hiking poles and I was glad to have them despite my wonky elbow. There were several times that one of my feet completely slipped out from under me and the poles kept me from falling and busting my face.
It was a lovely hike with a casual uphill on a good trail until I reached what I consider to be a rock slide. My sister’s boyfriend says it’s actually a “scree” or “talus” field and that it is the norm for hiking in the Sierras, but WHAT DOES HE EVEN KNOW?? I didn’t have a good sense of where I was going, so it didn’t seem that bad when I was going up it.
Those pink dots are two people who screamed “BABE” at each other the entire time they were climbing. Then the guy would yell “POOP” and the woman would scream “EWWWW” every time they saw animal droppings. I hated them.
In an effort to put space between us, I took several breaks to enjoy the view:
I eventually got to the top and was rewarded with more gorgeous nature:I couldn’t see the trail because of snow, so I just kept following the footprints.
Eventually, I was on my hands and knees crawling up rocks through knee-deep snow. Something seemed amiss. I pulled out my handy AllTrails app and found myself:
I had gone the wrong way at a fork I don’t remember ever seeing and was in some sort of alternate trail hell. Eventually a guy behind me yelled up at me and asked if I was interested in being off the trail with another person because he wasn’t sure where he was either. WHY YES I AM. Feeling lost alone sucks. The only positive was that this trail went along the rim of the mountain, so we had a spectacular view the entire time we were climbing.
We finally crawled our way to the top of Mount Tallac and enjoyed the view at almost 10,000 feet.
It was cold and windy, and I felt like I was going to vomit from the fear of stumbling right off the edge, so I ate my sandwich and moved down to more stable ground quickly. I only managed to rest for about 15 minutes because I was so cold and the sun was way too bright up there. I was also starting to worry about time. Most people seemed to note that the ten mile hike was about a six hour round trip for them. I had already gone six miles according to my Garmin and it took me four hours just to get up the damn thing. So, I found the correct trail, and got a move on. The proper trail was a much better experience.
Look at how you can actually see a trail!
When I got back down to the rock slide, I quickly realized that traversing down it was going to be an actual shitshow. Since it was later in the day, a lot of the soft snow had melted into icy mush and there were a lot more people making their way up. Also, going down SUCKS. I don’t know what I would have done without the poles because it was straight up terrifying. I saw a lot of people falling and I still don’t know how I made it.
It was hard to see because the sun was so bright and was reflecting off patches of snow, and I didn’t think I would ever get to the bottom. It was also at this point that I realized that I was super sunburned on my neck and one side of my face. I wore a hat and sunscreen (which I reapplied several times), but it clearly wasn’t enough. So, that was a fun surprise. Once I made it to the bottom, my legs felt like Jell-O and I essentially just shook and stumbled the last few miles back to the car. BLESS HIKING POLES.
Look at colorful grove of Aspens down there!
It took me about five hours to come back down and my Garmin and FitBit both said I went just about 12.5 miles in total. I don’t know how that is possible on a 10 mile trail. The alternate trail I ended up on doesn’t look like it was that much extra, so who knows. I wanted to do this trail as a litmus test for a more challenging hike I hope to do in a few weeks in Yosemite (weather permitting). I survived it, but my legs feel broken. It was a total of 3,418 feet in elevation gain and the other trail is 4,101 and is five more miles in length, so I may not be ready for that at this point in time. We will see how quickly I forget the pain and misery of the field of rocks.
Overall, it was unbelievably gorgeous and completely worth it. I would absolutely hike it again, but not after it had snowed. I got home on Saturday evening and proceeded to sleep for the next 13 hours. Being indoorsy is so much less work.