Monday, October 20, 2014

Mon 20 Oct - South Lake Tahoe, CA

Dawn. Moon is up, we are up, but not too many others are up at Blue Jays Motel in South Lake Tahoe.

After enjoying a sugar loaded continental breakfast (we actually went back to our room and got our own cereal) we were on our way to the trailhead for the Mount Tallac hike.

We arrived in the car park first and met the Ranger and chatted for a while about bears and the trail as we had seen a few road signs nearby that were not reassuring.

The Ranger had said we would be unlikely to see any bears on the way but even if we did they are small Californian Black Bears and will move away from us but he did advise us about a strong wind warning from 11am today.

Mount Tallac is 9,735 feet high (or just under 3,000 metres) in an area known as Desolation Wilderness. Therefore, you need a day permit, free of charge, and to register that you are going into the area. Di got out the pen...

We headed out at 8.15am. The trail starts just south of Lake Tahoe and promises great views of that lake and passing several other lakes on the way.

It might not be clear from this map but the trail is about 8km each way but climbs constantly and steeply - a total of 1,000 metres. The Mount Tallac hike is described as "strenuous".

There may be a message here...

But the hike was not strenuous to start with - it did climb constantly but was not too steep for the first 4km as it followed the top of a ridge.

The new hiking poles we bought yesterday in Vacaville got a serious workout as the trail surface was a lot of loose rock. Di got going well on the flatter stretches but slowed down on the steeper steps.

Now about bears... We didn't see any but we know they are out there with this sort of deposit on the trail a few times. That looked like berries and one animal that really likes berries would be...

After an hour of hiking, we reached a first break area on a little lake called Floating Island Lake. Very picturesque with the big Mount Tallac in the background and Di nibbling an apple in the shadows.

Funny things happens whenever Di decides it is time for a bush "bathroom break".

Despite being all alone on the trail she hides behind a tree because someone always comes along. Yes it happened here too. Every time it makes us laugh and we can't understand the coincidence of timing (Hans suggests people rush to see Di's bare backside!)

Up up up we continued to Cathedral Lake which was also very pretty.

Beyond Cathedral Lake the trail got steeper and traversed back and forth. The views were stunning and after 2 hours of walking we took our second break (we aim for one break per hour while hiking).

The altitude and recent sinus infection started to impact Di's breathing and she opted not to do the last push up mountain. Happy with the views from here and after a short discussion, she headed on her own back down hill (not worried about bears at all!)

Hans kept going up up up ...Bye Di. Let's get cracking.

Rocks, rocks and more rocks were the name of the game.

The stretch from Cathedral Lake up to the saddle was actually the hardest bit. Almost all of this part of the trail was steep and on loose rocks. However, the views just got better and better the higher up Hans got.

And as Hans arrived at the saddle, the wind kicked in with a ferocious speed at the same time as the temperature dropped. It may look nice here in the picture but it was seriously cold and windy.

There were only one trail up on the saddle so Hans was not quite sure why the put this marker there.

Look at the trees. Do you believe that it can be windy up here?

As Hans hiked more up and up but in a more gentle way, suddenly this encouragement appeared. Hey, there was still another kilometer to go and Hans was getting quite tired at this point.

Anyway, here is Hans at the summit of Mount Tallac. The wind is obvious again.

Mount Tallac summit, clearly the highest point for some distance, but surprisingly there were no marker there.

Of course, the views from the top of Mount Tallac were spectacular. Looking back to where we stay and into Nevada.

Small patches of snow could still be found in the shade, and in a few places.

Looking north / northwest of Mount Tallac.

Just to give the viewer an idea of how it looked up there at Mount Tallac. It could only be summarized as rock scrambling. There were no path or trail at all for the last section, just rocks and rocks and rocks. You had to make your own way. Not very Di-friendly (she's a bit of a scaredy cat on loose big rocks).

More snow here just off the summit. And looking down there was positively scary even for Hans. It went almost straight down for a very long time. Hans kept his distance.

The return back from the summit to the trailhead went a lot quicker than getting up there (no surprises). Hans didn't stop for lunch, only water and snacks, and just motored on. He arrived back at the Mount Tallac trailhead around 2.30pm as Di was waiting for him there.

On the way back to our motel, we stopped at Taylor Creek, where life of the Kokanee salmon begins and ends according to this sign. It was a popular spot for fish viewing...

...and the Ducks had found their way there too. Funny fish. Alive and ready for spawning, they are predominantly red in appearance, but after spawning they die and become white and float on top or sink to the bottom.

Back at the motel, we both had showers, a cup of tea and a rest before going interstate for dinner. Going as in walking. To the end of our street and then right and crossing another street to Harrah's Casino.

Yes, we were "splurging" today. We were going for the casino buffet. And we managed to get a nice window table too there on level 18.

Lots of surprisingly good food stuff on offer. Rib eye carvings and salmon were our favourites.

Di also liked the crepes, cooked to order by a nice Thai intern.

The weather forecast had been for rain from 6pm, but while the weather front looked threatening, it didn't reach our domain. The front made for some good viewing from our table though.

At 7pm, after spending $20 on the roulette with the other "low end rollers" and leaving again with $20 some 20 minutes of gambling later, we went back to our room for a quiet evening and early bed time.

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