Like many people, I had a pretty sweet three-day weekend for the fourth of July. Don't you love it when holidays are conveniently placed? I do. I always kind of roll my eyes when a holiday like the fourth is on on a Wednesday or something, and you have to go back to work the next day and finish out the week. Don't get me wrong, I will totally take the day off, and I will take it happily, it's just hard to stay motivated during the rest of the week.
ANYWAY, three-day weekends are great. and I had one. And since the backpacking trip I had planned with the room mates had kind of fallen through due to various scheduling conflicts, I and another friend headed up to Castle Peak on Donner Summit to climb the peak and make a fun ten mile loop out of it.
Before you ask, no. I wasn't barefoot. The climb up to Castle Peak is steep and a lot of it is pretty scree heavy. The ascent up the peak is at about mile three, and I am not overly fond of the idea of cutting up my feet early on in the hike. Because this lady learns from previous experiences.
This hike is one of a few that I kind of fall back on when I just want to get outside and do an easy (ish) ten miles somewhat quickly. Maybe I am not in the mood for hiking somewhere new, and I want something predictable. I love being up in the Sierras. I grew up in Truckee, so that area always feels like home, and it feels good.
The last time I did this hike it was with Shayna, and there was still a whole honking lot of snow going on.
Frontage road on the way up to Castle Pass.
Luckily, we had both brought boots along with our minimalist footwear, so we were able to keep going. The scree going up the peak was a little slippery, but we made it on top alright.
Backside of Castle Peak
View of the meadow from the ridgeline
View of Castle Peak from Basin Peak
Unfortunately, the snow was enough that it obscured the already kind of faint trail going down the other side of basin peak, and while I know where the trail goes and how to get there, I didn't fancy trudging though a bunch of three foot drifts for a number of miles. For whatever reason that just wasn't appealing that day. So Shayna and I ended up not completing the loop and just came back the way we came. Somewhere along the way, Shayna lost a shoe....I don't think we are quite sure what happened there. And my boots were pretty old, and had been in the trunk of my car for about two years...so halfway down the mountain both of the soles just came off. Random! Thankfully it happened after I decided it would be a good idea to circumvent the peak and instead navigate through snowdrifts that came up to about mid thigh. Yup, definitely managed to outsmart the trail there. Good job Emerald. So Shayna and I, shoeless and soleless, descended from the majesty of Castle Peak and drove home to eat and take naps.
This hike last week couldn't have been more different. For one thing, no snow!
Look at all that green!
Instead of snow, all of the wildflowers were blooming so that everything was colorful and felt wonderfully alive. It's always really neat to see how life thrives even in places that spend more time snowed in than not.
Okay I lied. There is still some snow.
This trip we were most definitely able to complete our loop. Corey and I have both summited the peak before, and it is a huge pain in the butt, so we took the trail that avoids the top and goes directly to the ridge line. The ascent from Castle Pass to Castle Peak is about 2000 feet in one mile. It's steep. And when you are coming from an elevation of zero, it can be a little brutal.
Wildflowers on the ridge, courtesy of Corey's camera
|Trail up to Basin Peak|
As you can see, all of the work and heavy breathing on your way up is totally worth it.
I like how I'm all like "Cool hike, man!" and Doug waxes a little poetic and says some nice stuff.
As I mentioned before, the trail down Basin Peak can get a little faint at times, but if you just keep a sharp eye out and keep to the left at any trial splits, you are good to go. Plus, pretty!
Ten miles up in the mountains is a great way to start a holiday, and after we had eaten a huge lunch we both felt perfectly justified in napping and lounging around the house for the rest of the day.
So that was my Fourth of July. What did you do? Did you have an awesome outdoor adventure, or did you keep it local and hang out with family and friends? Have your shoes (or other gear) ever gone kaput on a hike? Because if that kind of thing has happened to you, you should probably tell me about it below.
Hope you all are well, and have a great weekend!