Not enough snow, still plenty of chances for hiking |

Not enough snow, still plenty of chances for hiking

Sam Bauman

There is snow up there but not enough for more resorts to open. So far it’s Mt. Rose, Boreal and Mammoth that have the bull wheels turning.

And not much snow on the horizon. So we can do Prison Hill and Dead Man’s Creek overlooking Washoe Lake on foot for a while. Then there’s other trails…

Our friends Robin and David Rittenhouse of South Lake Tahoe have often taken us along on their hikes, but this year things got busy and we missed the last couple. Happily, Robin decided to share their outings with us and we with you. Here’s her report:

“Fall hiking in Tahoe is a whole different experience from summer hiking. You aren’t expecting wonderful wildflower displays. You aren’t expecting to swelter. Instead, you start out at 35 degrees with lots of layers and room in your pack to stow the layers. You don’t need gallons of water, but it’s nice to have a few tasty drinks anyway. The air is crisp and clear, so the views are extra-special. The colors are from turning leaves of aspen and willow.

“The new experience is the SMELL! Oh, those fall leaves. The cool dampness of late flowing streams. And looking for tracks of coyote, bear and wildcat (if you’re lucky!). The trails look so different ” the views not obscured by overhanging leaves.

“We’ve been out several times lately ” once to Tamarack, Ralston, and Cagwin Lakes; next to Dick’s Lake; and this week up above Lily Lake. We accessed the trail to Tamarack Lake from Echo Lake. In the summer, you can take the water taxi across Echo, but now you have to hike it. The summer cabins are mostly closed up for the winter now. We imagined how lovely it would be to stay there for a summer vacation.

“Not long after you pass the last bit of lake, there is a signpost and you turn left to go a short jog over to Tamarack and its near neighbors ” Ralston and Cagwin Lakes. We sat on the rocks and enjoyed our lunch with friends Karen and Bob, while we discussed the nets and dead fish that were in the lake ” apparently the Forest Service is trying to eliminate some non-native fish that are endangering the yellow-legged frogs! We couldn’t figure out what killed the fish, since they were not in the nets. After lunch we tramped over to the other lakes, then back to Echo Lake for another rest and snack sitting at the picnic tables in the lovely little park at the end of the lake where the water taxi would drop you off if it were summer.

“There was even a phone booth where you could call to have the taxi come get you. This hike doesn’t have a lot of elevation change and is very pleasant.

“The hike to Dick’s Lake was another matter ” it started from the Eagle Falls trailhead. We passed the falls and the trail gets pretty steep! A lot of climbing, and several signposts later (we were glad to have our map along!) we finally went over the last hump and found Dick’s Lake. The view at the top was wonderful ” looking down on the Velma Lakes and Tahoe in the distance. Dick’s was tucked into a hollow of cliffs ” very pristine. We decided not to do the loop around past Fontanillis and Velma Lakes since we were pretty tired by then and it was getting late ” you don’t get as much time late in the year, since it gets dark a lot earlier.

“This week was the last hike of the year ” the weather was perfect, but it had snowed the week before and even though it seemed warm and no snow was in sight, we got into more and more of it as we climbed another steep trail and VERY clambery over rough outcroppings and streambeds which are now flowing again from the snowmelt. As usual, we passed through the groves of stately huge trees that awe Tahoe hikers along so many of the trails here.

“When we got higher, the trail was often obscured by snow, but a helpful coyote apparently knew where it was and had left his footprints for us. From the top, we could see Lily, Fallen Leaf and Tahoe lakes all in a row, clear and beautiful. We had hoped to go to Triangle lake from there, but our feet were pretty wet and the snow was thick everywhere we looked, so we gave it up and went back.”

Sure sorry I missed those treks, and what with winter (we hope) coming along soon we’ll have to wait until next year to climb the hills. David, incidentally, teaches snowboarding at Heavenly.


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Finally the Sporting Rage, for a long time the major outdoor sports shop in town, has competition. CV Sports at 911 Topsy Lane south of Carson City opens today with a fistfull of giveaways or price cuts on skis and Heavenly and Kirkwood lift passes. No word as to what kind of boot fitting will be offered.

But while on the subject of new mountain snow gear, a word of caution when it comes to buying new skis. The market has changed a lot of the years with skis and boots becoming more colorful and in many ways better gear. The switch to shaped skis ” wider at the tip and tail ” has bee a boon to many as the shape makes turning easier. But when you’re buying and talking to the shop pros, don’t upgrade your skiing ability much.

If you do you can get into the stiffer skis meant for experts ” harder to turn and less forgiving. If you ski the blue runs, tell the pro, don’t say you’re comfy on black diamonds. And if you’re a beginner, don’t go for the higher priced outfits; you’ll outski beginner skis in a season or so, and as a beginner you won’t profit from the pricier skis. Same for snowboards, although progress comes so rapidly with boards that you don’t have to bother with beginner slats.