Thursday, November 20, 2008

Beware of "This Way is Shorter"

(Enough of Prop 8 - let's talk about something else)

Also known as Mt. Tallac: Not Even Close
So today I drove over to Lake Tahoe in hopes of climbing Mt Tallac (local vernacular calls it Ta-LOC')

Now Terri and I have been to this trailhead a couple of winters ago, but do I remember anything about it? Of course not. Do I remember that the turn off is marked prominently? Nope. So I proceed to take every other possible access road before I ever got to the correct trailhead, but I found myself on the road right beside Fallen Leaf Lake which I see on the map takes me to a different trailhead. Wending my way down to the road's end I look around for a trail but don't see one. I'm about to give up and go back to the other one but I saw some folks working on their house so I stopped and ask if they could locate me on my Desolation Valley map (thinking I may have been at the wrong spot.) But I was at the right spot and the guy I'm talking to points out the slightly hidden trailhead and says "This way is Shorter" [than the regular way].

Intrigued I decide to give it a try. Now this is a much less used trail and it's over grown and it's rocky and I'm having to go down the trail by the lake looking for a trail that goes up the mountain. Trouble is that I don't know just how far down to go so I take a couple of E Ticket wrong turns that have me scrambling up a large pile of loose rock. During one of these forays I realize that it's (a) Thursday - I took the day off (b) I'm hiking by myself and (c) I have not seen a soul on this trail. My solution to hiking by myself is to use popular trails where there's someone around. I'm suddenly feeling rather alone and I pick my way down the wrong turn talus slope very carefully.

I'm realizing that shorter does not mean faster if you've never done it before and I'm wasting a lot of time on these wrong turns. Frustrated I sit down to think about what to do. "Use the force" comes to mind. Great the force doesn't seem to be terribly interested right now. Then I realized. "Hello? You have a GPS." "Yeah but I haven't loaded the more detailed map into it." "But you have a map." The light slowly dawns. I look more carefully at the map and it tells me that I need to go 0.7 miles before the turn off. I look at the GPS - I've gone 0.5 miles. D'Oh. Gee I think I need to go a touch further. Because of all of my previous wrong turns I needed to go a bit further, but then a trail did appear that wasn't all talus.

The trail was rough but doable up to a point. I'm past my turn around time and I've hardly gotten anywhere but I decide to go a bit further. Then the deciding factor appeared. 3 downed treed and a boulder blocked the trail (see photo) and I couldn't find where it continued even after jumping over one of the logs. Seeing how the shadows were growning I decided to bail and maybe do the main trail at a later date.

Things learned
My boots worked great at protecting my ankles and keeping my footing, though my feet are a little sore and I'm wondering if I should switch back to Spenco's rather than the Superfeet.

I used my poles with the right angle grips which I still like (even though they're wearing out) but I should use some padded bike gloves with them.

I didn't get over 7500' (only up to 6950') so I'm not sure how I'm doing on the altitude issue.
I deliberately took my time and when my breathing was getting a little heavey I stopped and drank Gatorade and ate chocolate. My legs did not fail ever and was able to lift myself up some large boulder steps.

Wrong Turn Tallus Slopes and Fallen Tree (shows gradient)

Fallen Leaf Lake:

No comments: