Thursday, August 21, 2014

8.21.14 ..... Granite Chief + Emigrant Peak

Hike Details:
  • Elevation - 8,000 - 9,006 ft.
  • Location - Squaw Valley Resort
  • Mileage - 5 miles
  • Hiking time - 3 hours
  • Route - We parked at the lot at Squaw Valley Resort and took the tram up to High Camp (it was pricey, $38 per person!!!, but it was a cool ride and shaved off quite a few miles)
  • Weather - Gorgeous!
I got to squeeze in one last hike with my boy before he left for BYU. It's been so great to have him around and to have a (mostly) willing hiking buddy. 

We could have hiked the whole way from the Squaw Valley parking lot to Granite Chief, but why do that when you can take a fun tram half the way up?
Looking down, deep breath...
The view from High Camp towards Lake Tahoe

Fun fact for you:  If you've been to Disneyland, these rocks might look familiar to you. Apparently, Walt Disney was the producer of the opening or closing ceremonies when the Olympics were held here at Squaw Valley in 1960. He loved the look of these rocks so much that they became the inspiration for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. What's funny is that these rocks look really fake, as if they're modeled after the ones at Disneyland, not the other way around.

After getting to the top of the tram and enjoying this view for a few minutes, it was time to head upwards.

First stop, Emigrant Peak
(He might be a grown-up now, but he climbs mountains like a kid.)

Looking up towards Granite Chief
 Looking back towards Squaw Valley
 Looking out another direction
 We spotted a grouse perched on a tree

It was a pretty steep climb for the last couple hundred feet of elevation, but totally worth the effort!

This is looking out towards the Pacific Crest at Tinker Knob in the center and Mt. Judah heading left.

Yep, we're experts :)
Found a fun little geocache at the summit

 I say this almost every time I'm hiking--pictures just don't do justice to the beauty and majesty of being on the top of a mountain looking out at such incredibly scenery.

In summary, yet another hike that I'd definitely do again! I also want to try starting at the parking lot, hiking up past Shirley Lake and then up to High Camp as the final destination. From there, you can take the tram down and it's free!

Friday, August 15, 2014

8.15.14.....Horsetail Falls

Hike Details:
  • Elevation -approx. 6,100-7,000 ft.
  • Location - Pyramid Creek Trailhead off of Highway 50
  • Mileage - 3+ miles
  • Hiking time - 2-3 hours
  • Route -We parked at the Pyramid Creek trailhead and followed the trail signs, which basically follows the creek. At various points, it's tricky to find an actual trail because you're on fields of granite, but having the creek to follow made it easier. Eventually you come to an open area where there are signs for the Desolation Wilderness and it's required to fill out a permit to hike through this area. Again, we scrambled over some granite rocks in places, but found that the best way to go was sticking closer to the creek. You can stop anywhere along the falls, though the rocks get trickier, slicker and steeper the farther up you go. We went about halfway up, stopped for lunch and then headed back down.
  • Weather - Gorgeous!
A beautiful spot along Pyramid Creek as you begin the ascent to the falls (thanks, Misty, for the smooth waterfall pic!).
At one point the creek rushes over a flat section of granite--it looks like it could be a pretty fun (though very dangerous) water slide.
 And then the falls come into view, pretty impressive...
 Getting closer...
 The view looking back was pretty awesome too--the peak in the distance is Lover's Leap.
This is the entrance to Desolation Wilderness, just grab a permit, fill it out, take the tag and put the rest in the box. Then wind through the trees and head up the rocks.
One thing I LOVE about the mountains...the trees! I'm not advocating carving on trees, but this little grove of aspens looked pretty cool.
And speaking of trees, this was pretty amazing--this tree was literally suspended over the creek.I've never seen anything like this.
And here's a side view...
 That awkward moment when your mom makes you stand inside a dead tree...
It was fun having Ryan along, even though he jumped across the waterfall and climbed on rocks that made all of us moms a little nervous.
 Great company for lunch and with a better view than any high-end restaurant...
It was a nice change of pace to find a trail off of Highway 50 since we usually go up 80. And I'll definitely plan to come back here again sometime to climb up higher past the falls into the Desolation Wilderness where there are numerous beautiful lakes and mountain peaks (Avalanche Lake, Lake of the Woods, Ralston Peak). Another day and another hike!
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