Ted's Hiking World Meiss Lake
Eldorado NF

July 13, 2007

All of my previous outings in the Carson Pass region have headed southward into the Mokelumne Wilderness, toward Round Top.  Today it finally is time to explore the area north of the highway, utilizing the Pacific Crest Trail.

The first mile parallels the main road, and traffic noise is considerable.  After that the trail turns northward and upward toward the ridge top.  Wildflowers are abundant even on this dry south-facing slope — paintbrush, yarrow, lupine, and others.  Just over the crest of the hill, a few folks are collecting some sort of samples from a big pond.

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First flowers on the trail

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Pond researchers at work

Just beyond the pond I am treated to a view of Lake Tahoe in the distance.  Farther down the hill an old lady is training a pair of llamas as trail packers.  She says that they are not camera-shy, but people-shy.

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The forest-fire smoke has cleared out of the Tahoe area

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Llamas are the best pack animals

There is an amazing variety of flowers around, including pale pink skyrockets, fields of wild iris, and my first encounter with a species called prettyface.

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Slendertube Skyrocket

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Western Blue Flag Iris

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Mountain Prettyface is the name

Running water at last!  Although the Upper Truckee River is but a trickle here, this is where it all begins — the headwaters of the Tahoe Basin.

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Upper Truckee River

At a trail junction I veer right toward Round Lake for about a mile.  Then a cross-country jaunt to the west, north of the meadow area, leads to a nice campsite on the eastern side of Meiss Lake, with only a couple of small rock outcroppings to negotiate along the way.

While skirting the northern shoreline, a meadowlark entices me to follow her for some distance, presumably away from the nest.  Although this should be the perfect place to break for lunch, I press on, as the flies here are prohibitively bothersome.

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Meiss Lake

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A protective mother

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Corn Lilies line the north shore

There is no official spur trail over to Meiss Lake.  A half-mile cross-country trek westward locates the PCT.  Showers Lake and other bodies of water are but a short mile away to the north, but I opt to leave something unexplored for a future trip.  Heading southward,  I find a good spot for a sandwich break next to a patch of cinquefoil.  My feet could use a rest as well after five virtually non-stop miles.

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Sticky Cinquefoil

After lunch, an alternate trail leads past the old Meiss Family Cabin.  In front is a marker detailing the history of the property.  The land was purchased for public use in 1965; yet no one is allowed to use it.  Go figure.

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Meiss family cabin

Halfway back up the hill there is short detour to a little waterfall coming straight down from Red Lake Peak; it merits closer examination.  While over there, another mysterious plant catches my eye — the third or fourth one today.

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The Lupine are especially tall at creekside

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Some of this water goes to cows in Fallon, Nevada

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These Pussy Paws have seen better days

I am finding my new flower-identification hobby unexpectedly difficult.  Several books and numerous internet resources have proved only partially adequate thus far, and the studies are quite time-consuming.

Retracing the path among the iris toward Round Top, the view is awesome.  The highway and other vestiges of civilization are conveniently out of sight in the canyon ahead.

At the top of the ridge a wasp of some kind is servicing a Ranger's button.  Near trail's end a single stem of cow parsnip has more than a dozen bugs on it.  At least they aren't on me.

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Round Top, 10381*, and the Two Sisters

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Wasp on a Ranger's Button

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Cow Parsnips must taste better than the store-bought variety


§: It was warm today, in the high seventies to low eighties.  A negative aspect to the outing was an inability to fully enjoy Meiss Lake due to the irritating flies.  A big positive was the greatest quantity and variety of wildflowers on any hike thus far this season.

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