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Mud Lake: The Journey Was Better than the Destination

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

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This post comes from Rachel McCullough, an avid hiker, mountain biker, rock climber, yogi, skier and photographer living in Truckee, CA. Follow @rachelmcphotos on Instagram for stunning images of beautiful Sierra scenery. When Rachel isn’t enjoying her free time in the outdoors, she’s teaching skiing at Northstar California or building and marketing websites for her clients at McCullough Web Services.

Who: Rachel and Garrett McCullough
What: Hiking
Where: Tahoe Rim Trail – Brockway to Mt. Rose segment
When: June 2015

Only I could think up a hike where the destination was a muddy lake that would require 23 miles of hiking. And only my husband, Garrett, would think this was a good enough idea to tag along cheerfully. 

So, it really had to be all about the journey; as is my goal of day hiking the entire Tahoe Rim Trail.

The Tahoe Rim Trail has presented a challenge to Garrett and me. Not because of the hiking itself, which seems to be the easy part, but in the logistics. Being a one car family, and the fact that no one has shown too much interest in 20-30 mile day hikes with us, shuttling is a bit difficult.

The Tahoe City to Brockway section took 4 modes of transportation to complete. We drove to Brockway, rode our bikes down to the bus stop in Kings Beach, took the bus to the trailhead in Tahoe City, walked the trail to the car, then drove back to pick up the bikes in Kings Beach! And while that seemed somewhat reasonable (except to anyone we explained this convoluted plan to, planning for the others hasn’t been as easy).

We completed the Brockway to Mt. Rose section a bit differently. Last year, we started at Mt. Rose, with our goal destination being Mud Lake, about halfway between the Brockway and Mt. Rose trailheads. We didn’t quite make it all the way, but we came close. So this particular weekend, we headed out from Brockway to tick off the remaining piece. That made our destination somewhere past Mud Lake.

So as my wise friend, Gretchen, pointed out when I hatched this plan of day-hiking from either trailhead to the middle – when we are done we’ll have hiked nearly the whole trail twice. So here’s to hiking the Tahoe Rim Trail twice, once in each direction!

Our adventure on the Brockway to Mt. Rose section began by loading up with 5 liters of water (each!) and setting out at the not-so-early hour of 8:30 from Brockway towards Martis Peak. Have I mentioned before we are not morning people?! Almost immediately, we were both drenched in sweat. Garrett asked me if the trail seemed harder than usual (we’d done the first part many times). Maybe it was all the water we were carrying to prevent getting overwhelmed by the heat.

This did not seem like the way to start 23 miles. I think the problem was that it was actually warm out. Summer temps plus some morning humidity wasn’t something we’d gotten used to yet.

The lake came in and out of view on our right side for the first several miles, until it eventually opened up so that all you could see was blue. The blue of the sky, the blue of the lake; what a gorgeous color.

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One of our earlier views of Lake Tahoe. It just kept getting better.

The trail meandered and switchbacked through the forest, before eventually leading to more open and treeless terrain. We stopped for a break at the last bit of shade, not so much because we were tired, but more because we were scared of the sun-baked terrain in front of us! We might wilt! Luckily as we climbed higher, it cooled down and we got a nice afternoon breeze. Being at over 9,000 feet definitely helps.

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Someone needs to go back for this photo in a couple of weeks. The yellow flowers will be gorgeous!

We joked along the way about our goal of Mud Lake. We wondered if there was even going to be water. Garrett still hasn’t let me live it down that I built up our hike to Twin Lakes on the Mt. Rose to Spooner section, only to find no water upon reaching the first lake. He claimed I was leading him on again. I started to wonder myself since we had decided on the route late the previous night and hadn’t asked around.

We agreed this was the best section of the trail so far. Views like on the Flume Trail, but without the bikes or crowds.

On the way to Mud Lake, there were a couple of tempting diversions. One was a rock outcropping with an easy climb and a lake view. Garrett reminded me that all diversions should be done on the way back. That way you know if you have enough energy to make it to the end. And he’s right! It’s easy to be excited 7 or 8 miles in! We did end up stopping for the short rock climb, but held off on Rifle Peak to see how we felt on the way back.

Then, I spent the next few miles tripping over my own feet as I forgot about the trail and stared at the lake. The most gorgeous part of the hike definitely went by the quickest.

We finally reached Mud Lake, and while it wasn’t as disappointing as one might think, it might not be the destination most people have in mind after hiking 10+ miles. But it did have water and it wasn’t muddy at all! So, we grumbled a bit about carrying a total of 10 liters of water, but oh well.

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Mud Lake. It seemed clearer in person, I promise!

At this point, we figured we must be getting close to the spot we’d left off last time. So, we commenced what seemed like the longest part of the hike, which consisted of about a mile, with more uphill than perhaps we had envisioned. I say envisioned because the topo clearly showed the uphill, we just didn’t quite internalize what we saw.

We finally reached a familiar spot and were able to remember where we sat to rest and a trail that could be seen in the distance. Somehow we still questioned ourselves a bit. We couldn’t come all this way and miss a few hundred foot section in the middle! So went just a little bit further until we spotted Ginny Lake. Now we were sure. Ginny Lake is a muddy lake. Strange that the clearest lake in the area is named Mud Lake and the muddy lake is named Ginny Lake. I didn’t take long to ponder that because we started to head back and I had my sights set on Rifle Peak.

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Garrett and Ginny Lake (that small puddle in the background). This was our turnaround point.

Rifle Peak is not too far off the trail, but it’s a little steep! We found another hiker at the summit who snapped our photo. Confusion ensued when we told him where we came from and how we got there. And then counted out the miles for him!

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Rachel and Garrett on the summit of Rifle Peak.

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Rifle Peak summit with clouds building.

We only spent a couple of minutes at the summit, wondering if the building clouds would produce any rain. It wasn’t in the forecast, but they did seem to be staying east.

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Garrett descending from Rifle Peak, which is seen in the background.

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More descending from Rifle Peak. No complaints about this view. Except that it made me trip over anything in my path. Too distracting!

We took our longest break of the hike right before we lost our most expansive lake view. It was hard to motivate to leave that spot, but after 10 minutes, it was go time.

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Panoramic view of North Tahoe from the trail, with Garrett.

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There’s me. About to trip on something as I look at Lake Tahoe, I’m sure! Good thing for hiking poles!

The final miles somehow melted away. Good conversation definitely helps. We hit the road at about 5:45pm, ready for some dinner. Our evening plans entailed walking two miles to happy hour at a friends’, putting us at 25 miles for the day. We joked we should make a lap around the neighborhood and make it a full marathon. Oh well, another time!

Tahoe Mountain Sports Gear We Used:

 

Tahoe Trail Running At Its Finest: a Local Loop

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

This post comes from Chris Cloyd, a TMS Ambassador and lover of endurance sports. When Chris isn’t training for his next big run in the mountains or out exploring the Eastern Sierra on bike, he’s managing the Performance Training Center by Julia Mancuso. Watch for more race reports, gear reviews and fun reading from Chris and other Ambassadors of Tahoe Mountain Sports.

Who: Chris Cloyd
What: Trail Running / Scrambling
Where: Truckee, CA – Castle Peak
When: June 8, 2015

June 8 Run

TMS Ambassador – Chris Cloyd’s Route (June 8, 2015)

The morning of June 8, 2015 set up perfectly, with calm skies, warm temps, and a block of about three free hours on my schedule. Not one to ever turn down an outdoor opportunity, I grabbed my Salomon S-Lab Running Vest and Salomon Trail Running Shoes and ran out the door just shy of 8:30 AM.

My adventure run this particular morning was to start from the Castle Pass Trail Head, across from Boreal Mountain Resort on the I-80 summit. I ran up the Castle Pass fire road to the Donner Lake Rim Trail, then turned off on the DRT for a short section before hitting the Pacific Crest Trail (never skip a chance to run America’s most famous trail). I ran the PCT up to Castle Pass, then took the trail up the shoulder to Castle Peak before gaining the summit of Castle Peak’s 3rd tower (the easternmost tower is the true summit, home of the survey marker and register).

The summit of Castle Peak  was reached in 41:38 from leaving my car – by far my best time up to the peak. I saved some energy going up, for sure, and I look forward to going back this summer to try and best the 40 minute mark. The summit block is a spicy bit of Class 3 Climbing, so keep your wits about you and watch your footing if you go! I continued from there along the ridge trail (as good as it gets) to Basin Peak, and topped out there as well. It’s an easy summit, about five feet off of the ridge trail. Make sure you sign the register there as well!

I then crashed down to the Devil’s Oven-PCT trail, swung left down toward Castle Valley and the PCT. It’s only a short bit of running on the PCT before the Sand Ridge Trail to Hole In The Ground, and I took a right there and descended to the HITG Trail intersection. Taking a left and running HITG en route to Andesite Ridge, I enjoyed really the only shaded section of trail on today’s run. HITG snakes its way down from Andesite Ridge and links back to the Castle Pass fire road, which I took back to my car.

At 12 miles, this is one of the best “short” loops on offer in the Truckee/Tahoe area, and one of my personal favorites. Get out there and try it the next chance you get!

Tahoe Trail Bars Make for a Great Hiking Meal!

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

This post comes from Guest Blogger Michelle Shea. Michelle lives in Lake Tahoe and is the host/creator of the outdoor series Adventure Dining Guide. She created Adventure Dining Guide because “food is the unrecognized hero of our journeys, and its about time backcountry meals get the recognition they deserve”. Learn more at www.adventurediningguide.com

Who: Cameramen Skyler Mullings & Michelle Shea
What: Featuring Tahoe Trail Bar as the main ingredient and new ways to enjoy trail bars
Where: Tahoe Rim Trail
When: April 2015

I love trail bars! They’re a staple food in my outdoor adventures because they’re tasty, convenient, and filled with trail necessary nutrients. However, sometimes I crave variety…so I invented three ways to transform a trail bar into more than just a quick snack. I used ingredients that are pack friendly and will help elevate a trail bar into a hearty meal. ADG

This is the Adventure Dining Guide episode featuring Tahoe Trail Bar:

Here is a link to the recipe:
www.adventurediningguide.com/3-trail-bar-recipes

Get Your Adventure Meal Ingredients at TMS:

I Found Snow and it Tried to Get Me Lost: Day Hiking From Tahoe to Truckee

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

This post comes from Rachel McCullough, an avid hiker, mountain biker, rock climber, yogi, skier and photographer living in Truckee, CA. Follow @rachelmcphotos on Instagram for stunning images of beautiful Sierra scenery. When Rachel isn’t enjoying her free time in the outdoors, she’s teaching skiing at Northstar California or building and marketing websites for her clients at McCullough Web Services.

Who: Rachel, Adam
What: Hiking
Where: From Tahoe City to Truckee, along the Tahoe Rim Trail and the 06 Forest Road
When: April 2015

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Photo: Rachel McCullough

“Did you do an idiot check?” I asked Adam as we left our rest spot. [The idiot check is the last glance back to make sure that you actually packed everything that you came with, so you don’t feel like an idiot later when you realize you left your water bottle sitting on a log.] Never having heard that phrase, he asked if I was checking for him since he was an idiot for coming along on one of my crazy hikes! Unfortunately, I am not sure he is the first to have that thought cross his mind while hiking with me. While we had hiked together many times since we met in college, I have pushed myself towards what some would call the extreme, while he has been enjoying hiking like most people, five to ten miles at a time. But, he can out ride me any day, so I figured what’s a few extra miles?

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A First Attempt on Shasta, via Casaval Ridge

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Chris Cloyd is a TMS ambassador athlete based out of Truckee, CA. He and Steven Benesi, a distance runner and mountain athlete from Truckee, are attempting to run and climb all of the peak on the Western States Climbers’ OGUL List by the end of 2016. Their successes and shortcomings will be recounted in this space – subscribe to the TMS blog RSS feed to follow their story!

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And…we’re Off! (Photo: Chris Cloyd)

Living in California, Mount Shasta possesses a particular mystique. If you’ve ever driven down I-5 from Oregon, you’ve laid eyes on Shasta’s imposing bulk and (if you spend any time in the mountains at all) considered what it must be like on its summit block. Many visitors every year climb or skin to the top, and you can ski all the way from the summit (conditions allowing) to your car for a 7,000 foot descent that is truly unique. This past week, I went up for a first attempt for Shasta’s summit with my friends Michael Jaskot and Matt Hardwick, and it was a trip to remember.

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TMS Goes to Golden Alpine Holidays (B.C.)

Saturday, March 21st, 2015
Sunrise Hut with the ridge of Melting Faces in the background.

Sunrise Hut with the ridge of Melting Faces in the background.

If you are a backcountry skier or boarder and ever have the chance to travel to Golden, BC…GO! Go NOW!

While Tahoe wallows in the throws of our fourth consecutive dry winter, one can only hope that by going North, you will eventually find what you are looking for. This year was no different because even though it hadn’t snowed much in the two weeks before we arrived, the temps stay crispy cold and the sun is low keeping all the but the most southern faces in prime skiing condition.

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Earning Turns

This year’s plan was for 2 days at Roger’s Pass and then a rare, partial week at the Sunrise Hut operated by Golden Alpine Holidays. We arrived to sunny, bluebird skies and that is what would persist our entire time. It felt like we were back in California, but the mountains were blanketed in white, the temps never got higher than -10C and instead of Snickers bars we ate EAT-MORE bars!

Zack and his old school Iron Cross move!

Zack and his old school Iron Cross move!

The first two days we spent touring on Roger’s Pass from the two most popular and centrally located trail heads. Day ONE took us to Balu Pass with some great North facing pow on the way and Day TWO took us on the Young’s Peak traverse for our longest day of the trip.

 

Check out the Suunto Movescount video below for a quick glimpse:

(Utilize the Suunto Movescount App on your laptop, tablet or phone to make it work its magic.)

On Day THREE, a quick eight minute Heli ride from the staging area took us to the Sunrise Hut at around 7,000 ft. We got in, ate our first of the most awesome lunches and hauled water as fast as we could, so we could get out and get skiing. The terrain around the Sunrise Hut is pretty perfect for all day ski touring. We were able to ski about 600-1,100 ft runs all around the hut and in most cases, up into the alpine.

Asst guide Hayden grabbing some pillow action

Assistant guide Hayden grabbing some pillow action

We were particularly fond of hitting the Ridge of Melting Faces for our first few runs everyday as it was the only time the sun was on it. When we arrived at the hut, the faces were clean and void of any ski lines so this made them extra tasty. Even after day FOUR, we still weren’t crossing even our own tracks and that is one of the best parts of a trip like this.

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Admiring our brush strokes on a previously blank canvas

Thanks to our guide/cook team of Julie and Rich Marshall we were incredibly well nourished and well guided throughout. We even got to celebrate Zack’s leap year birthday with some sparkler magic!

Zack's Leap year birthday party!

Zack’s Leap year birthday party!

Sara enjoying her Tele turns

Sara enjoying her Tele turns

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook Photo Album: http://goo.gl/qeWxRE

Tahoe Mountain Sports’ Mountaineering Move #SuuntoClimb #Suunto #Ambit3Peak.

Learn more about Golden Alpine Holidays and book a trip of your lifetime: http://gah.ca/

Learn more about Golden Alpine Holidays and book a trip of your lifetime: http://gah.ca/

 

 

Adventurous Dining at the Peter Grubb Hut

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

This post comes from Guest Blogger Michelle Shea. Michelle lives in Lake Tahoe and is the host/creator of the outdoor series Adventure Dining Guide. She created Adventure Dining Guide because “food is the unrecognized hero of our journeys, and its about time backcountry meals get the recognition they deserve”. Learn  more at www.adventurediningguide.com

Who: Chef Brian Robinson from the Clair Tappaan Lodge, cameraman Calvin Scibilla, dogs Bella and Shogun, and myself
What: Hike to Sierra Club’s Peter Grub Hut and cook lunch in the hut
Where: Tahoe National Forrest and the Clair Tappaan Lodge
When: November, 2014

This was the first official episode that I filmed for Adventure Dining Guide with a cameraman, a script and an experienced chef. I was both nervous and excited for this adventure and spent weeks making sure everything turned out as planned.

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Calvin and I arrived in the morning to the Clair Tappaan Lodge to be greeted by Chef Brian and the friendly staff and volunteers who were at the lodge. We all sat down to enjoy a family style breakfast, where Calvin and I were able to hear some great stories about the lodge and its long history.

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Prepping the taco meat ingredients in the Clair Tappaan kitchen

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Redemption Song: Old Man, Take Two

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Chris Cloyd is a TMS ambassador athlete based out of Truckee, CA. He and Steven Benesi, a distance runner and mountain athlete from Truckee, are attempting to run and climb all of the peak on the Western States Climbers’ OGUL List by the end of 2016. Their successes and shortcomings will be recounted in this space – subscribe to the TMS blog RSS feed to follow their story!

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Old Man Mountain, as seen from Interstate 80 Eastbound. Photo: Chris Cloyd

After a failed attempt earlier this year, Steven and I decided to celebrate his birthday with another attempt at Old Man Mountain. It seemed a fitting tribute, celebrating getting older with a summit bearing such a name. Learning from our previous mistakes, we chose attempt a new route to Old Man this time – instead of starting from Lake Spaulding, we would start from Cisco Grove and try and gain the summit via the Fordyce Summit ridgeline. This route put us a bit closer, to start, and seemed to remove much of the cross country travel that slowed us down last time.

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No Snow Doesn’t Mean No Fun!

Monday, March 16th, 2015

This post comes from Rachel McCullough, an avid hiker, mountain biker, rock climber, yogi, skier and photographer living in Truckee, CA. Follow @rachelmcphotos on Instagram for stunning images of beautiful Sierra scenery. When Rachel isn’t enjoying her free time in the outdoors, she’s teaching skiing at Northstar California or building and marketing websites for her clients at McCullough Web Services.

Who: Rachel and Garrett McCullough, and lots of family and friends
What: Skiing and hiking
Where: Park City, Utah
When: March 2015

This is the fourth year of drought in Truckee/Tahoe. We could all sit around and complain, and many of us do, as do some of our visitors. There’s no snow, no powder, it’s too warm, it’s too muddy, etc. Please pinch yourselves! Somehow it is easy to forget that we are at Lake Tahoe – one of the most gorgeous lakes in the Sierra, surrounded by incredible and yes, still snow-capped mountains.

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The recent inversions mean lots of fog in the Martis Valley, taken at Northstar California. Photo: Rachel McCullough

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Thin Tahoe Winter Provides Us With Multi-Sport Paradise

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

TMS Ambassador Mike Tebbutt outlines all there is to do and be active in Tahoe during another low-snow winter. The following is his report on this re-imagined winter pastimes. Follow Mike on Instagram at @irontebby

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On top of Mt Baldy with Donner Party Mountain Runners for some off-trail running.

As I wrote this, Tahoe and Truckee were getting some much deserved snow!

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed with the lack of snowfall this winter, and scared for what this means for all of California as we are forced to fully embrace this severe drought we are in. However, the Lake Tahoe/Truckee region always provides us with the goods by which to enjoy this world-class destination. And in my 26 years of living in the area, I have seen many drought years that leave the “experts” telling you it will take several years of big winters to bring the Lake back up to capacity, only to have them contradicted by one winter with the HUGE precipitation that the Sierras are so famous for.

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Skiing at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe with my wife, Liz

This year has been an exceptional winter in that we have been able to enjoy Mt. Biking, Hiking and Trail Running all winter on the trails down low and still get some great skiing in up high. With these unique conditions, I have made it a point on several occasions to get in multi-sport days, even a couple of what I like to call “Tahoe Triathlons”. These triathlons consist of heading out early with my dog, Loosey, for a run on frozen dirt trails before the lifts open, then making my way up to Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe (which has been surprisingly good ALL winter) after breakfast for a few hours of skiing, then coming home to take Loosey out for round two and some quality “brown pow” mountain biking. I have also enjoyed some great off-piste running on the firm snow up high, as well as a handful of lift served and backcountry powder days.

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Stormy backcountry skiing with Sam Skrocke and Loosey on Mt Rose

I’ve seen many others taking advantage of the warm and calm days out on Tahoe and Donner lakes stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking, even a few brave swimmers. Others have also enjoyed some epic surf and kite surfing conditions this winter with the couple big storms that packed strong winds along with the snow.

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Mt Biking the February “brown pow”

I know we are all dreaming of bluebird and waist deep powder days, but until Mother Nature decides to bless us with those conditions, life is always good in Tahoe! While it hasn’t be waist deep this winter, we’ve still been having fun!

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Pond ice skating in Tahoe Vista!

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