Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Road Trip: Mineral King, CA / July 2020

Road Trip: Mineral King, CA / July 2020

Day road trip (with a partial hike) to Mineral King, CA. Who is 'Mineral King'? Mineral King is not a 'who', but a what and a where - subalpine glacial valley located in the southern part of Sequoia National Park, in California. Accessed by a long and narrow winding road, the valley is mostly popular with backpackers and hikers.

Now, half the 'fun' of this trip is this 'long, winding road'. 25 miles long, it rises from a starting elevation of 1,400 feet above sea level to 7,830 feet above sea level over the course of *almost* 700 curves. This is a steep at times, mountain road that ascends through river-carved alpine valley, with some vertigo-inducing drop offs and only passable by barely more than 1 car in spots. This drive, up 6,400' of elevation gain, takes 1.5 - 2 hours... so as you can imagine, that's almost 4 hours of your time spent in the car driving to and from your destination.

In other words, even leaving at 6:30 in the morning didn't provide us with enough time to explore more than a few miles of hiking trails, of which there are a plethora. But even an initial visit with an hour or so on the trails, the views of the Sierra are majestic, pristine, breath taking and certainly calling for a future trip devoted to at least 2 days of exploration.

Our short 2+ mile hike was along the Eagle Lake trail - we didn't get too far, but far enough, at least for now.

Yeah, I will (and must) do it again.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Hike: Ralston Peak, Lake Tahoe / July 2020

The crowning achievement of the weekend - Ralston Peak. Now I have to say we've done lots of hikes (and lots more to come, knock on wood) but the views from the top of this mountain are among the best in the entire Desolation Wilderness - part of the Sierra Nevada mountains that tower over the western side of Lake Tahoe.

Astounding views. End of story.

The top of Ralston peak gives you some views that are pretty unique and hard to come by at least without backcountry hikes, multi-day adventures, or brutal, thigh burning climbs.

For the 7.5 mile hike, with 2,791' of elevation gain ending at - you guessed it - the top of Mt Ralston at 9,407' - you get literal 360º views of the Desolation Wilderness and the vistas are absolutely breathtaking. Some of the best I've experienced yet. Alpine forests and lakes - a plethora of lakes, actually, and you ca actually see well over 50 miles away - and that includes the eastern shoreline of Lake Tahoe to the northwest.

This definitely rates in the Top 5 of most epic and majestic viewpoints of all my hikes in the last 10 years. Incredible and beautiful and captivating and, well, let's just say you don't want to leave. Amazing.

Length: 7.5 miles / Elevation gain: 2,791' / Highest Elevation Point: 9,407

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Hike: Granite Lake and Maggies Peaks, Lake Tahoe / July 2020

Still up in Lake Tahoe which means there's always time for another pretty killer hike, this one almost 2,000' above Lake Tahoe (with, as you can see, epic views of much of the southern portion of the lake) into the Desolation wilderness. Alpine forests, mountain lakes, clean fresh air, pesky bugs, and majestic views. More astounding viewpoints, including from the top of Maggie's Peak - up around 8,700' - and slightly off the beaten path. You can see south west deep into the desolation wilderness - wild untamed mountain lakes and beyond into the lush alpine forests.

Length: 4 miles / Elevation gain: 1,761' / Highest Elevation Point: 8,772

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Hike: Shirley Canyon, Squaw Valley / July 2020

Into the Granite Chief Wilderness, Eastern Sierra Nevada,  Western Lake Tahoe area. Let's see... Shirley Canyon, started off fairly quaint, along the babbling river, small waterfalls dropping smoothly down eroded granite rocks, where families and children gather at the small swimming holes. Following along the river, until the trail starts its gradual ascent up to the granite rock hills and up into the Granite Chief wilderness. Astounding views and a nice climb up the granite mountainside. The cool thing is you get to cross and travel along mountain streams and alpine forests to get to the granite peaks. Picturesque would be a good place to start. As for the hike itself, not too hard, but more than rewarding with the views you get even heading just towards the top.

Length: 5 / Elevation gain: 1,925' / Highest Elevation Point: 8,250'.