Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Big Meadow Campground

As you might guess I didn't hang out at Tamarack Lake and instead walked back out to my van, arriving at 4:10. Just enough time to get my bear canister back to the forest service office before closing. I got there at 20 till the hour but, who knew? They close at 4:30. I went to the door anyway hoping to beg myself a door opening and some poor soul was trying to lock up. She kindly took my canister and a few minutes later, while I was divesting myself of accumulated trash in their trash cans, she told be all was well! At least I didn't have to wait till opening tomorrow to return the dang thing. 

I looked at my maps and I couldn't see any FS campgrounds along highway 50, which seemed surprising to me. So I dropped in at the outfitters there in So Lake Tahoe (nice folks) and they told me about this FREE campground off of highway 89. There are 11 sites and you can stay for up to 7 nights. The only downside is there is no potable water but who cares? I got a gallon o'water in the van so I'm good to go. 
Nice big spaces with lots of room between sites. And I was very happy to see this. 
I hope folks are being respectful of the fire bans. I know some people don't feel the camping vibe if they aren't sitting around a fire but as a lifelong Californian, fire makes me nervous. 

As usual while sleeping in my van in an unfamiliar place, I didn't sleep well and awoke at 3:30PM. I ruminated till about 5:00 when I finally realized I didn't have to lay there till daylight and could just take off for home. Yea! Off I went into the dark of early morning. Highway 50 never seemed so downhill. I managed to hang on till I got to Placerville, where I stopped off at Mel's Diner for a good breakfast. 
I do love driving and seeing my state,  but as I moved farther west, and time passed, I needed to pulled off and snooze for an hour or so. I guess the coffee didn't really kick in like I'd hoped.   Back on the road I remembered there was an IKEA right at the junction of Highway 80, west and east. Hum...
Fun as always, though I managed to get out of there forking over less than $7.00. Yahoo!

Finally home. I love going away but still, I love coming back to my spot. Looking at the next project... an El Niño inspired retaining wall. I have some post holes to fill in the very near future. 

Day Two

Hammock bliss. 
I can't ever remember a time in the backcountry where I've been as comfortable as I was last night. I laid down at 7ish, more because of the cold than tiredness, and here I am, twelve hours later. Watching the sun climb over the low ridge behind me and light up the trees, all from the warmth and coziness of my hammock. 
Last night I had grand plans for this morning, which had to do with getting up early and being at Lake Aloha by sunup. The lake is a beautiful spot for photography and I was gonna be there before the birds. But, but, the hammock... I think I'm spoiled for good. 

As it turns out it's a good thing I didn't rush off this morning since Lake Aloha doesn't look anything like it used to look. In this image I am standing on a rock that would have been under water in previous years.
The next is a pano standing on the same rock. 
Finally, can anyone tell me why there is a wall out there with steps that would normally be under water ?
So Lake Aloha isn't as dramatic as I've seen it in the past but it's still pretty. Still and all a nice six mile out and back with some nice fall colors thrown in for good measure. 
I'm back at my base camp now, laying in the hammock trying to decide what to do with the rest of my day. I didn't mention it before but yesterday it appears I pulled a muscle in my right lower leg which was pretty good by this morning, but is acting up after my hike. This seems to preclude any more hiking, at least until the Advil kicks in. 
Having said all of that this is about the time on a trip when I start thinking of walking back to the car early. Especially since I'm not spending my time making miles and being goal directed. Instead I'm just hanging around camp...so I'm starting to feel antsy. Yesterday was fine because I was tired from lack of sleep on previous nights but I'm rested now. What to do? Stay or go? Four miles back to the car...

Monday, September 21, 2015

Tamarack Lake - 7,800'

It's been many years since I've hiked in Desolation Wilderness, west of Lake Tahoe. Last time was when I hiked the Tahoe Rim Trail, probably ten years ago. It was summer then and there were lots of folks on the trail and camping alongside the many lakes in this area. Now? Haven't seen anyone at all. Nice. 
I originally thought I'd hike in here last night but it was too late by the time I got everything ready so I slept in my car at the trailhead and took off at first light. By the time I'd hiked the four miles into this lake I decided to do something very different for me and use this spot as a base camp, going out for day hikes and returning here to camp. The thing that decided me was the dang bear canister I got talked into borrowing from the ranger station when I went to pick up my permit yesterday. The loaner canister is a full three pounds and doesn't really fit well in my pack. I didn't realize the bears were so active this season or I could have brought my own (lighter) canister and a different pack.  Suffice it to say, my pack was a tad uncomfortable. 
So here I am and I must say, it's actually kinda nice laying here in my hammock, mid morning, lazing about. I'm not used to this kind of backpacking, though I might be able to get used to it. We'll see how long I can tolerate the inaction. 

*Note to self*
You are going to have to start using a checklist when you pack for backpacking trips😬
What did I forget? My version of toilet paper, and my standard packet of handiwipes. Well damn. I did have four squares of the blue shop towel I usually use but that's only two days for me, if I'm lucky. Today I was unlucky so now I'm down to two 4" by 4" squares. It looks like I may have to try out the natural material method many folks use. 
Some say using round, smooth rocks is good but I'm in granite country up here so I didn't find too many of those. I did find some sticks though and I was VERY careful to soften any potential pokey places on a rough stone. We will see how it goes - It's all an adventure. 
Later - It's only 6:22 PM but I'm all done with dinner (yum, turkey stroganoff) and into my sleeping clothes. Swinging in the breeze! I hope I stay warm...