After a couple of disastrous attempts at a high sierra hiking trip in July (which included blowing the head gasket on my Subaru), I decided I still needed a few days in the mountains. So I planned another trip closer to home.
First thing Wednesday morning, I headed up hwy 50, and over Luther Pass to Hope Valley. I was aiming to get a campsite at the small Hope Valley campground. I totally scored here… had my choice of campsites and chose a primo site in the front loop. I ended up having most of this loop to myself for the three days I was here.
I headed on up over Carson Pass to do a hike to Margaret Lake (trailhead just past Caples Lake on hwy 88). This used to be one of my favorite easy hikes, which I hadn’t done for years, and I thought it’d be the perfect warm-up. 5 miles total with about 600′ of elevation gain. This is a perfect summer afternoon hike with a little bit of everything… shady forest, alpine meadows, warm sunny granite, aspen groves. And a beautiful payoff at a small mountain lake.
As I was hiking back, I encountered a group of college aged kids backpacking in. In addition to their huge packs, they were all carrying Trader Joe’s grocery bags. Except for the last two guys, who were carrying the full-size cooler… one of them on each handle. It was comical watching these two guys hauling a heavy cooler across the Caples Creek log crossing! Evidently, the lightweight backpacking concept hasn’t kicked in with many people!
Headed back to my quiet campsite and relaxed with a cool one before dinner. After dark, I headed across Blue Lakes road to the meadow and watched the Perseid meteor show. It was really spectacular… probably saw 25 “shooting stars” in about half an hour. The sky was so clear and beautiful there, with almost no ambient light.
Next morning I headed up to the Big Meadow trailhead for a hike to Dardanelles Lake. 7 miles with 1400′ elevation gain. There were a couple of mountain bikers starting out at the same time that I did. They ended up carrying their bikes for the first 1/4 mile or so, as the trail was very rocky and steep, with lots of stairs. When we finally got to good trail, they were up and off. Big Meadow is aptly name… a huge alpine meadow with a lovely creek running through it. When I was on this trail (hiking to Round Lake) in June, the meadow was much greener and lusher, and the mosquitos more prevalent. Another great hike, with a large granite ringed lake at the end. It was quite windy when I sat down for my early lunch (or was that second breakfast?? or “elevenses”??), but after hot days in the valley it felt great.
Photo album from the trip here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=96294&id=541604603&l=63a20238ef