California: South Lake Tahoe – Mount Tallac Summit 17km

Dawn. Moon is up, Good Mrs and I are up, but not too many others are up at Blue Jays Motel in South Lake Tahoe, California, USA.

A sugar loaded continental breakfast later and we were on the road. For the shortish drive to the trailhead for the Mount Tallac summit hike.

We chatted to a Park Ranger there before starting our hike. In particular about bears and the trail as we had seen a few road signs nearby that were not reassuring.

The Ranger had said we would be unlikely to see any bears on the way. Even if we did they are small Californian Black Bears and will move away from us. Instead, the ranger told us about a strong wind warning from 11am today.

Mount Tallac is 9,735 feet high (or just under 3,000 metres). It is in an area known as Desolation Wilderness. You need a day permit, free of charge, and you need to register that you are going into the wilderness area. Good Mrs got the pen out…

We were on the trail by 8.15am. The trail promises great views over Lake Tahoe and is passing several other lakes on the way too.

The distance to the Mount Tallac summit is about 8km each way. It is a constant and steep climb for a total of around 1,000 metres to get to the top. A “strenuous” hike.

But the hike was not strenuous to start with. A constant climb but not too steep for the first 4km as it followed the top of a ridge.

The new hiking poles got a serious workout as the trail surface was a lot of loose rocks. Good Mrs got going well on the flatter stretches but slowed down on the steeper steps.

Now about bears… We didn’t see any but we know they are out there with this sort of deposit on the trail. That looked like berries and one berry loving animal would be…

After an hour of hiking, we reached a first break area on a little lake called Floating Island Lake. Picturesque with the big Mount Tallac in the background. And Good Mrs nibbling an apple in the shadows.

Funny things happens whenever Good Mrs decides it is time for a bush “bathroom break”.

Despite being all alone on the trail she hides behind a tree because someone always comes along. Yes it happened here too. It made us giggle yet again.

Up up up we continued to Cathedral Lake which was also so pretty.

Beyond Cathedral Lake the trail got steeper and traversed back and forth. The views were stunning and after 2 hours of walking we took our second break. We aim for one break per hour while hiking tough.

The altitude and recent sinus infection started to impact Good Mrs breathing. Hence, she opted not to do the last push up the mountain. Happy with the views from here so she headed on her own back down hill (not worried about bears at all!)

I kept going up up up …Bye Good Mrs. Let’s get cracking.

Rocks, rocks and more rocks were the name of the game.

The stretch from Cathedral Lake up to the saddle was actually the hardest bit. Most of this part of the trail was steep and on loose rocks. As a reward, the views just got better and better the higher up I got.

On top of the saddle, the wind kicked in with a ferocious speed at the same time as the temperature dropped. It may look nice here in the picture but it was cold and windy.

There were only one trail up on the saddle so I was not quite sure why there is a marker here. People want confirmation, I suppose.

Look at the trees. Do you believe that it can be windy up here?

As I hiked further and further up but now in a more gentle way, this encouragement appeared. Hey, there was still another kilometer to go and I was getting quite tired at this point. Wind and cold does that to you.

Finally, at the Mount Tallac summit. The wind is obvious again.

Mount Tallac summit is the highest point for some distance, but there were no marker there. Other than me.

Of course, the views from the top of Mount Tallac were spectacular. Looking back to where we stayed and into Nevada.

Still some small patches of snow in the shade and in a few places.

Looking north / northwest of Mount Tallac.

Just to give the viewer an idea of how it looked up there at Mount Tallac. It was rock scrambling. There was no path or trail at all for the last section, just rocks and rocks and more rocks. You had to make your own way.

More snow here just off the summit. And looking down there was scary even for me. It went almost straight down for a long long time. I kept my distance.

The return back from Mount Tallac summit to the trailhead went a lot quicker than getting up there. No surprises. I didn’t stop for lunch, only water and snacks, and just motored on. I arrived back at the Mount Tallac trailhead around 2.30pm and Good Mrs was there waiting for me.

After having showers at the motel and a cup to tea, we walked interstate for dinner. To the end of our street and then right and crossing another street to Harrah’s Casino. Which is in Nevada. But that is a different story…

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