Tag Archives: Sierra Nevada

Just A Smidge of the Pacific Crest Trail

Darlene and I enjoyed a little three-day backpacking excursion along a tiny bit of the Pacific Crest Trail last week.  We started at the Donner Pass trailhead and headed south for 10 miles towards Granite Chief (near Squaw Valley).  Most of this section is walking a ridge line with wide open views in every direction.  It was pretty windy the whole day but that seemed to keep away any threat of afternoon thunderstorms – which would be a bigger concern along this long, very exposed crest.

It’s actually a nice, gentle climb most of the way, climbing up from Donner Pass through the Sugarbowl ski area, past Anderson Peak and Tinker Knob before dropping down to the first potential opportunities for water between Tinker Knob and Granite Chief after about 9 miles.  As it turns out, both Darlene and I had issues along the way that led to us moving super slow (me favoring a twinging knee and her with leg and hip troubles).  As for water, the most reliable looking source turned out to be dry. With a bit of scouting, I found a tiny little spring hidden in the creek bed not too far from the trail crossing and so we camped nearby.  (For any one looking for info on “California Section K” of the PCT, it was the stream coming off teeny Mountain Meadow Lake near the PCT intersection with Painted Rock Trail.  The creek just south of Tinker Knob was still flowing though.)

 

Feeling much more sore and stiff than usual, neither of us felt up for doing much of a day hike or any peak climbing the next day so we just spent it hanging out and recuperating.  Our return hike on the third day to Donner Pass went easily though (aside from a minor slip and fall and bloodied knee) and we enjoyed a gorgeous day with little wind on the ridge.

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Some More Tahoe Trail Riding

While up at the Tahoe house over the past two weeks, we got in some nice rides – and avoided any crowds.  We hit up the usual Sawtooth Ridge loop (just south of Truckee), found some fun trails accessible from the house (KB Trail and Rise and Shine, etc. just above Kings Beach) and we finally, finally, made it all the way out and back from Stampede Reservoir (some 24 miles) on the Emigrant Trail starting from the amusingly named Donner Party Picnic Area (seriously?).  I was totally spent, sore and dehydrated, but no need for cannibalism.  Darlene on the other hand was all smiles – as she was riding her new pedal assist e-mtn bike!

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Christmas in Tahoe

Christmas in Tahoe… fresh snow, skiing, snowshoeing, hanging a ceiling fan, playing new board games (Covert and Pandemic Legacy: Season 2).

 

But then… uh oh, my cat broke:

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Another Weekend in Tahoe

Troy, Resi and Aiden joined us for the weekend in Tahoe, including an afternoon at Kings Beach and a hike from nearby Watson Lake to find another excellent view of Lake Tahoe.

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Sunset Dinner on Kayaks

Darlene and I met up with Nanci and Mike on Labor Day to take our kayaks out for a sunset paddle and dinner from Sand Harbor on the east shore of Lake Tahoe.  Being late in the day, the water was pretty choppy but we successfully navigated around from the beach side to the more protected cove.  And fried duck chicken for dinner!

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More Tahoe Trail Rides

Mark and Eve came up to the Tahoe house ahead of the extended Labor Day weekend, joined by their friends Matt & Lindsay for some excellent Tahoe area mountain biking.  Mike and Nanci then joined us on Sunday.

Here’s the video montage I put together for all four days of riding:

On Thursday, Mark, Eve, Matt, Darlene and I hit up the Incline Flume trail starting from highway 431.  We continued with an out-and-back on the classic Marlette Flume trail before Eve and Darlene opted to take Tunnel Creek Road down to lake level and the rest of us climbed the Incline Flume trail back to the cars.

  

On Friday, Darlene opted out and Lindsay joined us for a one-way ride from Watson Lake (above Tahoe City) on the newly completed Big Chief trail down to Sawtooth Ridge, outside of Truckee.  The upper section of Big Chief is rated expert/”black diamond” and is filled with lots of big drops – much more than what I’m comfortable with but the lower, intermediate section was fun and includes a long flow trail section too.  We finished up with Matt and Mark taking the west ridge, rocky portion of the Sawtooth Loop while Eve, Lindsay and I took the fast, flowy eastern side of the loop.

 

Matt left on Saturday, but the rest of us ended up trying a loop climbing up and around Incline Lake from the Incline Flume trailhead.  This was a mixed bag of very steep unrideable portions of trail to get up there but with some fun singletrack once we did.  Might be better to take the Old Mt. Rose Highway dirt road to get up there.  (Mike has a suggestion for another route that he uses that we’ll try sometime.)  For our return, Mark took the Tyrolean Downhill trail while he sent us to try a new trail through some recently logged terrain.

 

On Sunday, Mike and Nanci joined me and Darlene on part of the Emigrant Trail between highway 89 and Stampede Reservoir.  This trail turned out to be a lot of flowy fun through varying scenery with some nice long ascents that turned into great descents on the return.  Unfortunately, Nanci wasn’t feeling well and so she and Darlene bailed out early.  We’ll be trying this one again soon though!

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Sunshine and Hail in Desolation Wilderness

Darlene and I headed into Desolation Wilderness from the Meeks Bay trailhead on Lake Tahoe this Monday for three days, two nights of backpacking.  This turned out to be a pretty easy going climb and less than five miles to the first lake (Genevieve) and a few more miles to where we camped at Stony Ridge Lake for both nights.

On our layover day, we continued on up to Rubicon Lake and then set off cross-country to reach the saddle to the southeast in hopes of a nice view overlooking Emerald Bay.  Unfortunately, thunderclouds started coming in and we had to bail out before we could get to the overlook.  On our way back down, we were caught in a surprisingly heavy hail storm and then had to dash down off the heights in the rain as the thunder and lightning approached.  We returned to camp pretty soaked and moved everything a few hundred feet to a better location to wait out the storm.  Happily the rain let up before the sun set for the day.

Fantastic night skies too, with no moon!

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A Week in Tahoe

Bunches of pictures from a week in Tahoe with Darlene: hiking with Glenn and Michele along the old railroad bed from Donner Summit and through some of the tunnels, mountain biking with Mike up to the fire lookout at Martis Peak, kayaking from Sand Harbor to Secret Cove on the east shore of the lake, riding the Truckee River trail to Squaw Valley, watching the fireworks from the water’s edge at Kings Beach and, posted separately, soaring over Tahoe in a glider and saving the world from total ruin in Pandemic Legacy.

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Soaring Over Tahoe

For my birthday, Darlene bought me a glider ride with the Truckee Tahoe Soaring Association based out of the Truckee airport and we were able to squeeze in together for a 40-minute flight over the mountains between Truckee and Lake Tahoe.  It was, of course, a wonderful experience and we got to learn a bit from our pilot Pablo about the capabilities of gliders – like the ability for them to sustain 1000-mile flights up and down the Sierra Nevada range, riding the thermals. Both Darlene and I did get a little motion sick (no doubt partly due to trying to take pictures and video) but not too serious.  It was a little noisier in the cockpit than I expected from all of the air rushing over and around the canopy but we were easily able to talk to each other.

While we were aloft we were joined by two other gliders coming in from more distant locations.  One of them was just coming across Lake Tahoe fairly low from the direction of Carson City and we watched as they searched out some thermals to get themselves back up again to a more comfortable 11,000 ft elevation over the 8000+ ft mountain ridges around the lake.

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A Little Bit of the Tahoe Rim Trail

Darlene and I got a little taste of the Tahoe Rim Trail exploring west from the Tahoe house as far as Burton Creek State Park this past weekend.  I was surprised to find that there’s also a paved road that runs from Brockway Summit around to Burton Creek State Park, called the “Fiberboard Freeway” on some maps and apparently popular as a cross-country ski route.  We also wandered into the cross-country ski area that’s part of Northstar that I’d never seen before – including the “Caboose Hut”.

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Flying Around Mono Basin

This little road trip to the Eastern Sierra got off to a rough start as I experienced a breakdown in the Traveling Cat Adventure Vehicle far from any service help.  I was on US-395 just past the intersection with CA-108 (still closed from snow on Sonora Pass) when I suddenly felt multiple and ongoing jerking motions from the transmission as it seemingly tried to jump between gears.  I was luckily right in front of a pullout (which are few and far between) and was able to pull off the highway and try to figure out what was going on.  I ended up waiting about four hours as Mercedes roadside service tried to find a tow service before I found I could get the vehicle moving and head back towards Gardnerville and eventually Reno to get the vehicle looked at the next day.  (For more play by play on what happened, see this thread in the Sprinter-Source forum.)  Anyway, after losing a couple of days to dealing with that and then another day back at the Tahoe house fixing the RV’s refrigerator (which had also started acting up), I eventually headed out again.

I was going to meet up with Hoan and his family in Mammoth Lakes but they ended up bailing out and so I spent a few days in and around the Mono Lake basin.  The first night was a little off road on the way up to Virginia Lakes after discovering the dirt roads any higher were still blocked with snow.  Still it was looking to be a lovely high altitude spot for star gazing with my telescope – until after setting everything up I realized I had forgot to pack my counterweight – making it mostly unusable.  D’oh!  Still it was a nice spot to fly the drone around a bit with Mono Lake visible in the distance.  And Pan caught himself a mouse. ;-)

  

The following day I dropped down into the Mono Basin and went off roading a bit to get near the Mono Craters to go exploring on foot and in the air.  (I wasn’t going to try take the Traveling Cat Adventure Vehicle up the slopes of the craters!)  My cross-country hike turned out to be much more difficult than expected as it was really tough just getting up a step or two without slipping back on  the steep scree slopes.  But my, such a lovely and fascinating view over the top by flying the drone!

 

The last day involved some more exploring and flying near Grant Lake – and I found myself pushing the vehicle climbing on some just barely passable rough dirt roads.  Once again, I’m really looking forward to downsizing to a much smaller and more capable off-road van.  After getting out of there without mishap, the return trip involved backtracking north on 395 to highway 88, Monitor Pass and Markleeville.  Tioga Pass was still closed and Sonora Pass and Ebetts Pass would be a really bad idea for a 25 ft. RV!  Carson Pass was lovely and snow capped all over on the way back though.

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Ice Dams Remain

Partial snow load from off of roof

As I detailed earlier (Those Ice Dam Blues), the Tahoe house developed thick ice dams all around to the point where I was getting water intrusion where the dormers meet the roof above the deck.  Turning the poorly-installed heat tape/cables back on, and leaving them on 24/7, let the melt water drain off (and re-freeze into a thick layer on the deck).  I called around and found Millers Roofing would be able to come out and clear the snow and ice from the roof about a week later.  (Boy would that suck if the heat tape hadn’t been able to get the water to drain.)

Well… it would seem that I had some entirely unfounded expectations over what to expect.  I was thinking that a service to clear the snow and ice from the roof would leave the roof relatively clear of both (at least until the next snow storm).  Though I had no idea how they would safely remove the foot-plus thick ice, I was surprised to discover that they apparently don’t actually remove all of the snow or apparently any of the ice.  Six hours of work for three guys (and $2250) and what they do is remove about three-quarters of the snow off the top.  Troy sent me a photo of the front of the house two days after the roof snow removal crew finished (and after another storm dropped some more snow).  Here’s the before/after shots:


One week before and two days after the clearing work

When I did get to the house about ten days later, I was dismayed to see that while a lot of snow was dumped off the roof, the ice dams remain everywhere around the house except for where the heat tape/cables run beneath the dormers:

   

And there’s quite the load of snow and ice from the roof on the deck now:

 

The concern here is how the melt water from the roof continues to fall and refreeze into a slab of ice on the deck – getting up to the door thresholds.  We are starting to get a little bit warmer weather so we’ll see how this goes in the coming months but this clearly needs some work to avoid this mess in the future – both the ice dam formation and the ice slab on the deck.

All of this makes me wonder if it was worth hiring that crew to do that partial snow load removal.  I can see some more shingles are peeling off the roof eaves but maybe it would be worse.  On the other hand, the ice dams remain until they eventually melt away and there’s plenty of snow remaining (and to come) to feed them.  Hopefully there won’t be any water intrusion elsewhere on the roof where there are no heat cables installed.

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Those Ice Dam Blues

  

Record loads of snowfall (and occasional bouts of rain) mean lots of snow and ice on the Tahoe house – enough to build up ice dams all the way around the house and to eventually find water streaming down the walls in the dining room.

It looks like the problem spot is where one of the dormers meets the roof.  Melting snow collects above the ice dam below the dormers, getting under the shingles until it gets high enough to stream down where the dormer wall joins the roof.  There is some heat tape installed under these dormers to create drainage through the ice dams but it’s not installed quite correctly and I had mistakenly understood that it’s not necessary to run it at night when the temperatures get down to the teens outside.  Apparently there’s enough heat getting through the roof to melt the snow even when it’s that cold outside.  So I ended up with water streaming down the inside walls (past electrical outlets, to boot):

      

Not good.  I’ve got a crew coming from Mills Roofing later this week to remove the snow and ice buildup.   There will be more snow and then more melt and more ice dams though.  The heat tape that is there now is only on a portion of the rear of the house and it wasn’t installed properly.  It doesn’t hang over the edge of the eaves as it should (to let the water drain off the roof) and a good 8-10 feet of it is wasted strung up on the wall coming from the junction box.  I was able to rearrange some of it but the roof here is too steep for me to deal with most of it.

I’ve been in contact with Brian from Summit Ice Melt Systems and will be looking into potentially installing their product to prevent these ice dams from forming at all.  However, that still leaves the issue of all this melt water collecting and refreezing on the deck below – and potentially leading to further water intrusion into the house:

  

There’s also still the outstanding damage to the roof from prior seasons.  There are several sections of shingles missing from the roof but I wasn’t able to find anyone that wasn’t already booked up to repair the damage over this past year.  I did eventually sign up with Jeff’s Roofing Truckee but he also wasn’t able to get to it before the first snows arrived.  He did manage to locate a supply of the Tamko shingles in South Lake Tahoe though.  Hopefully, he’ll get to my roof later this year once the snow and cold weather is gone:

  

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Frie Family Visit in Tahoe

Darlene’s brother John, his wife Sandy, and daughters Joslyn and Carlyn came out to visit in Tahoe for a week.  We were able to finish up our road trip to join them for some activities including hiking, kayaking and climbing in the trees at the treetop adventure park in Tahoe Vista.

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Things to Do Around Lake Tahoe

This activity list is intended for those who might not be very familiar with the Lake Tahoe area, but staying at our house in Tahoe Vista, on the north side of the lake.  The whole lake is a big tourist destination year round but the north side is less built up than the south side.  There’s of course lots more info available on the web. Continue reading »

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Hoan’s Family Visit to Tahoe

Hoan’s extended family came up to the Tahoe house for 4th of July weekend and Darlene and I were able to join them.  Six adults and six kids at the house!  Over the course of four days, we caught the fireworks at Donner Lake, checked out the nearby North Tahoe Regional Park, hiked up to the vista point on the Tahoe Rim Trail above the house (and Brockway Summit) for a sunset view, kayaked from Homewood to Sugar Point State Park (and back), hiked from Donner Summit through the old train tunnels and hung out a bit at Kings Beach.  Hoan, Samantha, Justine and Phong also gave one of the Tahoe Treetop Adventure Parks a try.  (One of them is just a mile or so from the house.)

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