Mt Tallac Hike (9738')

Date: 04 Aug 2013

No. of days: 1 day

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 4.9 miles one way (10 miles out and back)

Trail: Mt. Tallac summit trail from Mt. Tallac Trailhead

Picasa web album link: here

Similar to the Sykes hot springs hike, this hike was planned and dropped multiple times. This time however it materialized. What meant to be a backpacking trip with camping in the Desolation Wilderness Forest for a night, turned out to be a very tiring and a strenuous day. The hike was made tougher due to the fact that we had to drive; hike and drive back without a break. Having planned Whitney next weekend, this hike was like a preparation and skills assessment test.

The hiking team initially was only 4 people. So Abhinava had booked a car for the 4 of us. Now that the count increased to 7, we had a requirement of another car. Rajath decided to rent out one. We started the day which turned out to be 40 hr sleepless journey. Saturday was fun. My roommates and went out Kayaking at the

Shoreline lake. Evening after bidding adieu to Spoo, I got back home. We left to get the cars from the airport. Picked up Abhinava and reached the airport at 11:40pm. Abhinava got a RAV4 with ample space for backpacks. We got back to my place. After bath and packing everything, we headed to Sreenidhi’s place to pick him and his roommate up. We were on the way to South Lake Tahoe at 2:45pm. It was a 4 hr drive to the trailhead from south bay. We reached the trailhead at 6:50am. Got ready for the hike and began the hike at 7am. The drive to the trailhead was through mountains already filling up the air by nature’s beauty and mysticism. It was pretty cold at the beginning. So all of us were pretty much cocooned into fleece, down jackets and hoodies. I even had a bunny cap on which proves to be extremely protective when it comes to the ears. The majestic Mt. Tallac mountain range was high above up. I felt so tiny in front of these great, old, wise and strong mountains. The first mile was well-maintained crisscrosses. What followed was a steep climb to the ridgeline that ran parallel to the cathedral lake. That climb to the ridge is worth every small effort spent. It was out of the earth beauty.

The trail then descended down to the reflection lake. The water was so still along with the right sunlight incidence, the reflection of the mountains and trees were crystal. This is one time I wished I had a DSLR. We stopped for a while and continued our hike. The reflection lake is 1.6 miles from the trailhead. After some more hiking, we ended up at another lake. This was about 2.5miles from the trailhead. It marked the “easy” half waypoint to the summit, easy because the next half will consist of very steep ascent in blazing hot sun without much cover for a tired soul. A quick break to eat bananas and we were up on the treacherous gravel, steep trail to the summit. I had read earlier online that we can deviate from the Cathedral lake / Mt. Tallac summit trail and take the Chutes up to the peak. By seeing the scramble and what I considered the summit, I wanted to take it.

I had a 25kg (40pound) backpack and it was crazy to do that, anyways, I had takers – as usual it was the crazy roommate gang (Shyam and Rajath). So we happily started climbing the stones (Scramble). It was tiring. We rested and chugged along towards the peak. We even had skating lessons thanks to the loose gravel. It was a game of finding big stones to hop onto moving towards the peak. Finally we were almost at the place where we had to climb through a valley of sorts. When we were at the valley, that is when another mountain came to sight behind this one which was higher and farther away.

Nothing to stop us now, we went on ahead towards the 2nd peak. To cut short the story, I counted 6 such peaks. We were lost but gaining altitude. I looked around for the trail and finally after a long time, we caught up with the trail. We then hiked along the trail to the peak. We were at the mile marker in about 45mins and reached the peak at 12:45pm. The others had reached the summit only about 30mins before us. I did realize that the scramble route that the Internet said was from the mile marker. Damn, we climbed a lot. It was fun though.

We rested, took a lot of photographs. Being at 9738 feet was amazing! We had the tasty pasta prepared by Rajath and all the other foodies. We started heading down at 1:15 pm and we were down by 4:30pm. The return route also involved having a relaxing feet dip at the lake at the mid waypoint. We stopped for dinner – burger and fries along with some tasty milkshake and headed home. We left at 6:00pm and we were home by 9:50pm.

It was a wonderful hike. I would definitely go to Tallac again during winter to work on some winter climbing skills.