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.
First flowers on the trail
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.
The forest-fire smoke has cleared out of the Tahoe area
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.
Western Blue Flag Iris
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.
Upper Truckee River
At a trail junction I veer right toward Round Lake for about a mile.
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.
A protective mother
Corn Lilies line the north shore
There is no official spur trail over to Meiss Lake. A
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.
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.
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.
The Lupine are especially tall at creekside
Some of this water goes to cows in Fallon, Nevada
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
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.
Round Top, 10381*, and the Two Sisters
Wasp on a Ranger's Button
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.