Sunday, February 7, 2016

Mount Tallac Snowshoeing


Snowshoeing Mount Tallac, South Lake Tahoe
Desolation Wilderness
Elevation 9,738
Winter is always the hardest season for me. Too many days indoors makes this girl grumpy and sluggish. And I get cold so easy that I go through boxes of hand warmers all season! 

However, since I recently discovered snowshoeing you can't keep me indoors, even in yucky weather, it's completely changed my attitude during the winter months. Well, almost...

I also REALLY enjoy hiking this mountain in the summer, so I thought it would be a match made in heaven. Snowshoeing AND Tallac? What more could you ask for? Apparently, a little more daylight, firmer snow and more stamina… haha

My friend and fellow hiking partner Brent and I set out to conquer this beast in the winter. I’d recently taken several avalanche trainings with my Search and Rescue Team and although avalanche danger had been rather high the week before our hike, things had settled down quite a bit. We knew the approach we wanted to take and set out to make it happen.

First things first though. We had to have dinner the night before. And did we ever!! Brent had a favorite little spot he liked to go to when coming to this side of the lake and he made the wise decision to share it with me! YUM!! 

This great little place (as in small, very small) is called Cafe Fiore. It's on Ski Run Road in South Lake Tahoe, not far from where we were staying.(1169 Ski Run Blvd #5, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96151) It's a tiny little Italian Restaurant that is definitely worth the advance planning and reservations. The food is just that good. I know this will seem like a food blog and I'm doing a food review, but I really enjoyed this meal! 

Everything from the first sip of wine, to this delectable bread was delish!

I'm not sure what's in those sweet potatoes, but wow!! 

I had the filet with a peppercorn cream sauce was so tender and juicy I wanted to lick the plate. I ate it so slow to savor every last bite. And I was so busy drooling over my own plate, I can't even remember what Brent had.... oops

And this dessert might be the best ice cream ever!! Or at least a close second to the best ice cream ever at Shubert's Ice Cream in Chico, CA . We requested a second serving of the fruit so I could have some in every bite, which they gladly provided. That makes it healthy, right? 

All in all, a great start to a weekend of snowshoeing. 

We were up bright and early and headed out to tackle Tallac in the winter! Lake Tahoe is behind me and pretty frozen over. We headed out to walk on what is normally the beach and it was VERY slippery! I don't recommend it...
Looking at Tallac while standing on the beach


The road to the trailhead from this side is closed in the winter, so you have to start hiking from the main road (Hwy 89). We donned snowshoes after about half a mile and went another .75 to the trailhead. Well, it wasn’t really the trailhead, we just looked up at the peak and said, “we want to go up there!” So we started up the hill, straight up the hill! Maybe it wasn’t the smartest of ideas we’ve ever had, but it was certainly the most direct route. The snow was very deep and soft. Had we been skiing it would have been pretty awesome, but for snowshoeing it made for lots of post holing and sliding around.

Hurry catch a quick picture before both of us can't breath!! 


And we just started up the mountain. The views were spectacular, even from a low elevation. This path was literally straight up. As the steep incline increased, we had to start traversing. 

Some of our switchbacks where he went one way and I went the other. We found that walking on either side of previous ski tracks was the way to go. We were sliding all over the place. Very steep and had some snow rollers at this point. The temps are rising. 

We made it up about 3/4 of the way to an area where we decided to have lunch (otherwise known as collapse). The views were absolutely amazing as you could see Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake from this side of the mountain. Not a bad place for lunch. 

Brent had taken the liberty of providing lunch and we had homemade mac and cheese that he had frozen and vacuum sealed and some pulled pork sliders. I provided all of the snacks.  Lunch was fantastic!

laying on the snow provided this horrible view...

After lunch we took some time to re-evaluate the conditions and how much hiking we still had left to do to reach the peak. We decided making it to the peak just wasn’t in the cards for the day. (Well, Brent really bailed, but I’ll forgive him later, maybe…) But, what a good decision it was. The temps were warming up considerably and the snow was continuing to soften making it a very slippery slope indeed. We were sliding and post holing all over the place. Sometimes sliding 8-10 feet down the hill. This would be fun at times, but when you’re legs are headed in different directions and you’re unable to break your fall, it’s not fun… at all.
The trip down was almost as slow as the trip up, just a little easier on the lungs since we weren’t climbing. When we decided to turn around, we looked up at the peak to say goodbye. It's right through these trees. We will be back again to tackle this beast in the winter, but we may do it from the southwest side. We will see...


Here are the tracks side by side from the winter hike around the north side and the summer hike from the south side. We were not far from the saddle, then it would have been easy peasy to the summit. Maybe next year...

All in all, a great day of playing in the snow! 



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