Mt Tallac Hike II

Mt Tallac via summit trail (9738’) - II

Date: 06 Aug 2016

Duration: 6 hrs or more depending on speed.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: ~10 miles round trip

Elevation gain: 3500’

Trail: Mt. Tallac summit trail (from Mt Tallac trailhead-6400’)

Waypoints: Trailhead -> Desolation wilderness boundary -> Floating Island Lake -> Stream crossing -> Fallen Leaf lake junction (turn right) -> Cathedral Lake -> glen alpine trail junction (Turn right) -> Mt. Tallac summit

Terrain: Rocks & boulders. 75% trail through vegetation & trees.

Permit: Free Desolation wilderness permit required. Present at the trailhead, one per group.

Getting there: From South/SanFrancisco (drive towards south lake Tahoe -> 89 towards emerald bay -> look out for tallac trailhead board)

More Info: Everytrail, SummitPost, My previous blog post

Variations: Glen Alpine Trail (from south of Fallen Leaf lake - Glen Alpine Trailhead)

After having completed a full marathon for the first time the week before (Sunday - July 31) and not having felt any sort of soreness or fatigue the day after the marathon day, I was stoked to continue other physical activities that week. Playing badminton after more than a month felt really good (Wednesday) and I wanted to see how fit I was with respect to hiking. I checked with Anshuman who is normally up for a hike and we decided to do a one day trip from south bay to S.Lake Tahoe, hike up Mt. Tallac and be back by 7pm in the evening. And that is how this hike happened to be.

We took off from the south bay at 3:20am on Saturday (6th Aug 2016). Facebook reminding me of a memory 3years ago (1st weekend of August) - photos of my hike up Mt. Tallac was a befitting coincidence. This heightened my excitement for the beautiful day ahead. Non-stop driving put us at Mt. Tallac Trailhead by 7:10am. Mt. Tallac comes under the jurisdiction of Desolation Wilderness and a day use permit can be obtained directly at the trailhead. (Self-service, fill and drop half of the permit form, free, one per group). Overnight hikers will need to get a permit from a backcountry office. The permit mainly explains ‘pack-in, pack-out’ and ‘fire’ policies. We finished up with the formalities and were on our way at 7:20am. The initial few miles were comparatively mellow with one or two climbs. The first waypoint is the wilderness boundary board which also has “permit required beyond this point” written clearly. This marks the entrance of the wilderness area. The trail climbs up to a ridge opening up to a magnificent view of the Fallen Leaf lake towards the south. If you are climbing up early (closer to sunrise), you’d be able to see beautiful radiance of the sun from across the water which we unfortunately did not get to see. From here the trail descends a bit leading to a lake - The Floating island lake. The reflection from the overlooking mountain towards the north makes for a great mirror image effect. We spent a few minutes at the lake before continuing our hike. The trail takes us meandering along the lake to a stream crossing which did have some water flowing in it. I’m quite not sure that this stream is perennial. From here, the trail gradually gains elevation.

Nothing eventful happened for a while other than of course me slowly losing breath. Fallen leaf lake trail junction came next. Veering to the right kept us going towards Mt. Tallac. We were greeted by the sight of another lake - Cathedral Lake; more smaller but exclusive and pleasant. We stopped yet again at this beautiful lake before resuming. With reducing trees and increasing boulders & rocks on the trail, high altitude environment became evident. We were privy to some great panoramic landscapes. The trail leaves the tree line below and starts climbing up without any sign of relent. As we got to the ridge line, snow capped peaks could be seen and this is one of those feelings I will never get bored of and would hike up over and over again to experience it. It was surprising to see greenery and more trees at what seemed at first like a plateau. Mt. Tallac peak finally came in view.

We got to the Glen Alpine trail & Mt. Tallac summit trail junction. Taking a right at the junction put us back on the summit trail. From here on, it was boulders and rocks all the way to the top. We reached the summit at 10:45am; that’s about 3.5hrs for the ascent. Thanks to Shruti my wife, Anshuman and I got to eat a sumptuous meal. Menu of the day was Tamarind rice (Puliyogre) and fryums/Duros (papad). Squirrels up there gave us a great entertainment act by scouting around us waiting for that small opportunity to grab our food. They did keep us pretty busy watching our food and backpacks the entire time we were up at the summit. We wanted to beat Lake Tahoe exit traffic and so decided to descend quickly. We started from the summit at 11:15am. Descending wasn’t thrilling with all of the rocks on the trail which greatly reduced our momentum. We got back to the trailhead by 1pm and headed out by 1:15pm. We just stopped once for refueling and were back home by 6:15pm (thanks to bay area traffic.. :( ).

Mt. Tallac proved to be a great hike especially when it has been exactly three years since my last time hiking it. Next time we plan to go to Mt. Tallac I would like to try the Glen Alpine trail variation.