Backpacking to Grouse Lake and Deadwood Peak, Mokelumne Wilderness

We were all pretty fried and not quite ready for my plan to drive seven hours for a high mileage trip. Scratching my chin Friday night, I leveled on the idea that we should leave at 10 a.m. and sleep on the summit of Deadwood Peak. It’s a shorter drive, an easier hike and about as high as you can get in this often low-elevation wilderness.

It rocked.

After seeing summit camp spots on Job’s and Job’s Sister a few weeks ago, the prospect of such a night is high on my list again. Deadwood wasn’t that mountain. Camping would work, but we got there too early in the day and decided it’d be more fun to make some more miles and check out Grouse Lake.

While the hike was a b-list option, it shouldn’t have been. We walked past old growth, alpine areas, both granite and volcanic rock, two lakes and extensive views. If it was only for the swimming in Grouse Lake (which still has amphibians), I’d do the hike again in a heartbeat.

On the summit of Deadwood Peak with Round Top in the background.

On the summit of Deadwood Peak with Round Top in the background.

Day hiking and tenkara fishing Caples Creek

Clouds came in and thunderstorms were forecast so we decided to hike in the trees. Alpine lakes would have been preferred but Caples Creek, nature, exercise and good company made for a nice Sunday.

It was my first attempt at tenkara fishing. I had and have not a clue about what I’m doing. I’ve never been a fisherman and I’m taking the “just figure it out” approach. Lisa watched me cast just long enough to thoroughly tangle my level line and lose a fly before I retreated to the beach and a pb&j.

My fishing setup weighs about half a pound. With that penalty, why not? My desire is mostly to hold fish in my hands and then put them back. Seems like a fun way to connect with nature.

My fishing setup weighs about half a pound. With that penalty, why not? My desire is mostly to hold fish in my hands and then put them back. Seems like a fun way to connect with nature.

Backpacking Freel Peak, Job’s Sister, Job’s Peak and Star Lake – Carson Range

This weekend was going to be a solo. At a party on Friday night Eric invited me on his trip. I’m glad I said yes.

I’ve been suggesting it as a destination to people for years. It’s the highpoint of Tahoe and it’s easy. A few years ago, I came close when we hiked past Freel Peak on a section of the TRT. We skipped the summit even though it was only twenty minutes away. It was already a high mileage day.

From Job's Sister, looking down into Nevada. Tahoe, big and blue out to the left. A seemingly volcanic column of smoke from a wildfire out behind us in the west.

From Job’s Sister, looking down into Nevada. Tahoe, big and blue out to the left. A seemingly volcanic column of smoke from a wildfire out behind us in the west.

Yesterday, four of us reached the summit and were rewarded with the fantastic view of the lake and most of the region.

Eric and I walked on to Job’s Sister. When he went down to the lake, I continued on towards Job’s Peak. Ridge walking ranks high up on my list of favorites when it comes to hiking and backpacking. It was a damn good day.

A little before dark I walked in to camp while the crew was having dinner. Clink, clink, a thermos of ice cubes was on hand for our whiskey.

My dinner was a risk: canned tomales that I’d dehydrated and a random collection of other mostly powdered foods. Delicious. For desert Jamie had carried in a delicious home-made birthday cake.

It’d been a bit of a hard day of hiking above 10,000 feet. Since I had to climb Job’s Sister a second time on the way back – my legs were worked.

A few bugs landed on my face during the night.

Thanks for having me on your trip crew. It was fun.

Fishing boat and SUP camping Tomales Bay

Andre’s getting wed. For his last party as a bachelor, we drank beer, fished and camped on Tomales Bay.

Friday night’s festivities in S.F. shall not be mentioned.

Saturday, we ever so casually packed boats and headed to Nick’s Cove. It was somewhere near six p.m. when I stepped on my board for the paddle to camp. The beaches were remarkably crowded. I wonder how many people were there without permits. Or perhaps it’s that Blue Water’s commercial-use permit in addition to the individual permits made for the neighbors.

Ernie made killer tacos. He’d brought a grill that sat on top of my Whisperlite. Beans were cooked at home. Salsa was super spicy. Nicely done Ernesto.

Frying fish encrusted with gold fish crackers, toast and sour cream and onion pretzels.

Frying fish encrusted with gold fish crackers, toast and sour cream and onion pretzels.

It was damn great to have a college reunion with just the guys.

The bioluminescence was strong. It was incredibly neat to paddle around in the pitch dark with every disturbance of the water sparkling like the stars.

Thankfully, we didn’t pack up on Sunday. The day was spent fishing and goofing around. We had no luck from Brent’s boat but we did catch and release a large bat ray from the beach. Warren’s boat left the bay and caught a half dozen or so rock fish (dinner) but had no luck with the salmon.

We stayed up late. Finished the beer. Ate most of the food. Walked the beach.

I’ve kayak camped on Tomales many times – usually leading college kids. This was far more fun.

A week backpacking the Ruby (Nevada) and Sawtooth (Idaho) Mountains

Dani and I took an eight day trip. It was pretty darn perfect.

Lunch in the Rubies. Lake two of four.

Lunch in the Rubies. Lake two of four.

We’d been planning a cross-country trip around the Sierra’s Blackcap Basin. It was snow free and I’d always wanted to go. A day before our trip, we shifted gears and decided to head east to new mountain ranges.

Tea time. Dani playing with his new camera.

Tea time. Dani playing with his new camera.

The Ruby Mountains of Nevada met my excited expectations. We walked through big peaks and past many lakes. We car camped and backcountry camped. We visited the crest and saw the desert on both sides of the range. We crossed a snowy pass and left the day hikers behind. It was casual, relaxing, and beautiful. I scored a 15 mile downhill through the beautiful Lamoille Canyon on my new road bike. We drove the “backside” of the range. We’ll go back for the rest of the crest trail.

Early season trips often mean wet shoes.

Early season trips often mean wet shoes.

The second leg of the drive brought us in to Idaho. We landed in a friend of a friend’s backyard in Ketchum. BBQ, bluegrass band practice, welcoming locals, a campfire, a shower and a bed – it was an excellent stop between trips and drives.

With our new beta, we backpacked two nights past Alice, Toxaway, Imogene and Hell Roaring Lakes. We crossed three snowy passes. We had absolutely stellar campsites. On our first backpack in the area, we did Sawtooth Wilderness right. Snow travel makes for wonderful solitude.

On the summit of Sand Mountain, looking out towards where we came from. Sawtooth Wilderness, Idaho.

On the summit of Sand Mountain, looking out towards where we came from. Sawtooth Wilderness, Idaho.

The area is crowded with hot springs. After tacos at Redfish Lake, we found a soak on the Salmon River before a night around a fire at our next trailhead. The region is absolutely decimated by beetle kill. There was plenty of wood.

On the 4th of July we had three things on our agenda: hike ~10 miles to Sawtooth Lake, soak in a secret off-trail hot spring, and drive 10 hours to Lake Tahoe. Dani set a runner’s walking pace to the alpine zone. The lake was frozen and beautiful. The spring, apparently the best around, was a quick stop before hitting the road.

Sawtooth Lake. Five miles up in an hour and a half. We were there when the backpackers we just starting their days.

Sawtooth Lake. Five miles up in an hour and a half. We were there when the backpackers we just starting their days.

Highway 95 across Oregon between Boise and Winnemucca was one of the straightest that I can remember. It felt like we’d go 20 miles between turns. Driving, I was reminded of these places to visit: the Jarbidge, Toiyabe and Santa Rosa mountains and the Owyhee River canyon.

Sometimes road trips and backpacking trips can be tiring. Re-entering California with a stop at Dani’s home on Lake Tahoe, filled with family, friends and food helped make the week a true vacation. We SUPed, swam, played bocce, and took the boat out. Capped it off with a nice dinner out with just us “kids”.

Dani, dude. It was a fantastic trip. Looking forward to doing it again soon.