Saturday, June 1, 2013

Dardanelles Lake, eventually...

I had big plans for my lovely stretch of days off. First a few days visiting with the parents in South Lake Tahoe and then at least one epic day hike followed by a grand overnight.  Maybe into Desolation Wilderness or along the Tahoe rim trail, easy to get to and not much thought required was my plan. Details weren't important; I was just thrilled to have 5 whole days off.
Only one problem, I was exhausted. I work night shift and my first day off tends to just be a catnap and then me blearily wandering around until I get to actually sleep. Not usually the most productive day, but a day off nonetheless.  
So Sunday afternoon had me joining the Memorial Day weekend crowds in Tahoe, bursting with excitement, sleep deprivation and too much caffeine. The wrench in plans started on Monday, the problem was the rain. Now I love rain but given the option I don’t actually want to be cold and wet for hours on end and I thought, well hey, I don’t need to go adventuring every day right? So Monday became a make a fire, curl up on the couch and read a book type of day. A glorious day in fact, full of laziness and being lost in books, a favorite hobby of mine.
On Tuesday I woke to the patter of rain and quickly found myself making excuses for why I needed another lazy day. And so my hiking plans went out the window and I burrowed deeper into my book away from the cold and the wet, comfortable with my fire and down blanket. Wednesday came and I realized I needed to get my butt in gear; my glorious 5 days of vacation and adventuring were slipping away in a haze of procrastination and laziness. So I sat down and actually stared at a few maps, glanced at the weather and tried to make some vague plan. I needed to get back to Reno on the early side on Thursday and of course had no food (unless cauliflower, bokchoy and popcorn would feed me sufficiently for the next few days). Now I’m all for resourceful and lazy eating but that won’t cut it food wise, even on a short camping trip. So the grocery store was a must plus a few housekeeping things and suddenly it was 4 pm. What the heck, how does the day always do that?
So I decided on a super short trip, head out through the neighborhood, hope I could find a trail that I've been meaning to check out for ages and after 5 or 6 miles stop at a lake and enjoy being in the mountains. Worst case, sunset was around 8 pm so only needed to leave by 6 to get there in the daylight…

Well I managed to get out at 5:30, not exactly a shining moment as far as planning but at least I finally left right? The neighborhood of Meyers is beautiful and not the worst road walking I've done by any means. 

2 miles in I hit the first of a few turnouts and lo and behold there was a perfectly legible sign (that was not there last winter) telling me I was exactly where I had intended to be. 

Then it was a beautiful 3 or so miles climb up towards the Tahoe Rim Trail and up the valley. Full of mountain bikers (very polite ones I might add) and only one other person. Rockier the higher I got but in great condition. 

I was getting a little cranky as I worked out the kinks of hiking with a dog that has a brand new backpack of her own and my own fun of wearing my pack for the first time in a year. The sun was getting suspiciously close to setting when I reached the cutoff for Dardanelles Lake, a few pretty stream crossings and a mile or so later and I had my very own mountain lake to myself. Scrambling up the highest rocks I could find, enjoying the sunset and the views.

She was either bumping into my legs or stuck in a bush the first mile or so...

 I wrapped myself up in my sleeping bag and enjoyed the fish and ducks and loving that I was all alone, a huge plus to camping on weekdays. The night was long because my night shift brain had a tough time shutting off and I didn't sleep until very late, but the stars were beautiful and I had brought a book so no huge loss there.
Morning was a chilly pack up and go, I will admit I wasn't too sad that I didn't wake up knowing I had 25+ miles to go. 6 miles was a cakewalk for sure, a good start to the season.

who swims at 7 am?

looking towards Tahoe

and back on the road
Well I'm not going to lie and say I wish I hadn't gotten my act together and did a bigger trip but it was a good trip to shake off the dust and get me super excited for summer. The Christmas Valley trail connects to the Tahoe Rim Trail right near Round Lake (Big meadow is the closest trail head), its a slow climb from the valley floor mostly along a creek and not a bad little trail, definitely worth exploring. 

And one last note, I have to say a sad goodbye to my lovely spoon, I managed to not lose you for over 3000 miles of hiking and then upon eating my breakfast I discovered I had dropped you between the lake and my first trail junction. I suppose that’s what I get for sticking you in my pocket as I started to hike but I've done it hundreds of times before…

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