New SP friends meet in the Northern Sierra
Misty sunrise from Squaw Valley
Last year was an off year for the high country. Only 2 short trips and hardly any hiking.
and I had been appreciating each others contributions to SP and after a few PMs she invited me to come up to the north Lake Tahoe area for some hiking. Usually drawn to Sonora, Yosemite and the Eastern Sierra I hadn't set foot in that part of the "Range of Light" since '97 when I last climbed a few peaks in the Desolation Wilderness
A long time resident of the area Cedar knew plenty of great places to go. I was still nursing an injured knee so she planned a few easy hikes for us the week of the 14th of June. I hadn't ever done anything around north Tahoe and was stoked to meet up and explore some new terrain.
Lou hits the wall
Lou drinking when he couldn't walk
We had planned to get together in a week. On June 8th I took my cat Lou to the vet for a check-up. He was slowing down, not eating well and losing weight. After a blood test he was evaluated with kidney failure. The vet gave me fluids to administer via needle. This wasn't new since I had another cat years ago with the same condition who responded readily to the solution and recovered dramatically for the better part of a year.
In Lou's case even though it was small doses and maybe because he was also diagnosed with a heart murmer the fluids seemed to backfire. The night of June 9 his back legs started giving out and he could hardly walk even a few steps. At 18 years old I was resigned to the fact that this could be it for him. He's been my best friend and like my son ever since he barged in and decided to live with me when I moved in to this place 11 years ago. He belonged to the landlady above but she gave him over when it was obvious we had this connection.
I told Cedar I might have to take a rain check and hang with my buddy during this crucial period. I was taking it from day to day and see how he progressed. The mountains might just have to wait, a quality they have no problem exhibiting.
Up to Squaw Valley and the north shore of Lake Tahoe
Sunset over Lake Tahoe
Well, in a few days Lou started walking, eating and responding much better. The landlady agreed to feed and check on him while I was gone.
Thursday morning the 14th, I drove up over Donner Pass to Truckee then down to Squaw Valley (6,200') where Cedar was staying at her son's place. This rustic old home with stables in the heart of the valley had a feeling of a lot of history in the wood. It was a hot sunny afternoon with the surrounding meadows lush in tall green grass when I got there which made it hard to believe that in winter the snow could cover the house!
Cedar greeted me, we exchanged hugs and she showed me around. It was too late for Granite Chief
, the peak up behind the valley so we took a small hike up to Shirley Falls with LE her sons big dog.
Hiking with Cedar was giving me a new perspective on the little delicate things along the trail that a bonehead peakbagger like myself usually misses in the quest to tag another summit.
Shirley falls was exhilarating. LE frolicked in the pools as Cedar set up tripod shots.
Later we went down to Tahoe City, had some killer waffle fries and visited the north shore for some sunset shots across the lake. The clouds were dramatic but the mosquitos were swarming (but not biting) so bad it was hard to keep them out of the frame!
Flowers at the pass, photo by Cedar South from "Squaw Crag" Cedar below Granite Chief
Friday morning we planned to do Granite Chief (9,006') a popular peak in the area. Cedar suggested we take the tram up to the high meadow above Squaw Valley to save several miles and a few thousand ft. making it easier on my knee. We walked over to the big resorts village for a bagel and coffee while waiting for the first tram departure at 10:40. Arriving at the meadow the hiking was easy up to the pass a short distance away. Granite Chief was an inviting vision about a mile to the northwest. The weather was awesomely clear and warm with almost no wind. Cedar said it was usually nasty windy up here on the Chief. We lingered for an hour on the summit taking in the great views south to the peaks of the Crystal Range, Lake Tahoe and north to Mt. Lola and the Sierra Buttes. It was a perfect day!.
With plenty of time to catch the last tram down at 5pm we stopped at the pass and I went to bag a small crag nearby while Cedar honed her lense in on some rare flowers. It was a fun little class 3 scramble to a knife edge jumble of blocks for a summit.
Back at the village after the tram ride down we had super tastey smoked chicken pizza at Fireside, highly recommended! Later we drove down to Barker Pass a few miles in from the northwest shore to camp for the night before doing Ellis Peak on Saturday.
North Lake Tahoe from Ellis Peak Ellis Peak from the 4th of July Bowl Wallflowers and the Crystal Range from the trail to Ellis Peak
For breakfast Cedar made us almond french toast before heading up the trail for the 6 mile roundtrip hike over the Fourth of July Bowl (8,517') to Ellis Peak
(8,740') and back. Apon cresting the bowl the Crystal Range and other Desolation Wilderness peaks announced their grand presence to the south. Taking our time we meandered around on this loosely forested high plateau with interesting old trees full of character and fine views before descending into the mosquito infested forest that lead to Ellis Peak.
Cedar promised the expanse of Lake Tahoe from Ellis was one of the best and the peak made good on it. What a view! After a short while on the summit she thought she saw a fire down by Barker Pass. It was a low snow year and the ground was already dry. Taking no chances we decided to head back a little early. Sweating and huffing back down through the mosquitos with dirtbikers loudly snarling around on their machines a short distance away. We were glad to get back up onto the beautiful plateau for a snack break before the last part of the hike.
Lou won't shut up!
Desolation Peaks from Granite Chief
Finally on the way back we stopped at The Tahoe House in Tahoe City for tuna salad. Cedar had some of her fine photography on display in the form of postcards for sale. I was impressed!
We hung out looking at photos and Summitposting on her laptop for a bit, planning to getting together in the near future for more adventures before I headed back to the Bay Area.
I was really glad to see Lou after the 4 hour drive back saturday night and he was no less than rambunctiuously demanding food and attention apon my arrival.
Monday afternoon and Lou was rummaging around the place howling for more attention between naps before gobbling up a quarter pound of raw jumbo shrimp for dinner. He appears to have found a new lease on life.
Cirrus cloud over 4th of July Bowl Cedar and LE on the Shirley Falls trail