Total Miles: 156.7
Sandwiched in between the snowy Crystal Range to the west and the parched Carson Range to the east, Lake Tahoe sits as the second deepest lake in the country and somewhere deep within its inky blue waters lies the California-Nevada state line. This morning we watched the sun peel the shade from the landscape as we slowly ascended to a pleasant though randomly placed bench from which to gaze out on the centerpiece of this great basin.
Hours later, we’d made our way down to the busy highway 50 through Spooner Summit where we zipped across the road and back to the much slower pace of the trail.
The sound and speed of the vehicles wizzing past on their way to and from the lake had me pondering over the ways in which we experience the trail beyond the obviously beautiful views along the way. As we climbed away from the road, the dwindling sound of the cars was a reminder that it’s not only our eyes that are treated to a feast of the senses while hiking a trail like this. In the span of mere minutes, the sound of the cars would be replaced by the sound of wind in the pines surrounding us punctuated by the occasional cone falling to the ground, while those same pines yielded their trademark scent mixed with the distinct smell of cinnamon. The feel of sand and stone beneath our feet is ever present, and the rough flakes of red fir bark are abrasive beneath our fingertips as we stroll past. Higher still, the scent of pine is replaced by sage, the occasional lemon oregano, and the smell of dusty earth. With every step, there is sensation.
With the weekend behind us, the trail continued to be very quiet. Working our way back up above tree line and looking back down on the lake, light and wind conspired to create an effect on the water that is the very definition of shimmering.
We even had to do a few double takes to figure out the optical illusion of Marlette Lake—nearly 2000 feet higher in elevation than Lake Tahoe—looking as if it were separated by only a small strip of trees.
And at roughly this same elevation of 9000 feet, the transition from the normal shade of blue sky into the deeper azure sky so characteristic of the High Sierra was on full display.
For our final night on trail, it only seemed fitting to find just the right stand of trees for a really fun hang: 4 trees, 4 hammocks, all facing inward. One last night under a sea of California stars.