Wednesday, 27 July 2016
Up, eat, out. A moderate drive today, to Kirkwood Mountain Resort, where we hope to enjoy the shade of high-altitude forest, even if it’s hot.
The first stop of any significance was at Carson Pass. After the salt desert of Utah and the basin and range of Nevada, it’s wonderful to be back in the Sierra Nevada.
I talked to the bikie. He said he lives in South Tahoe, just decided to come out and ride today. Thought he’d go as far as Kirkwood, then turn around and go back. Good for him!
We too found ourselves at Kirkwood not much later. We’ve gone past here any number of times, but never turned in. It’s actually quite a big place, condos and lodges, surrounded by a U of volcanic cliffs, with ski lifts going up in all directions. These places are trying to turn themselves into four-season attractions, but I think Kirkwood is falling short. Few people here, trails almost deserted, lots of empty parking places, For-Sale signs everywhere. Only food in walking distance is at the general store, which closes at 5.
While we wish them all success, we’re happy to have the world more or less to ourselves. Jacky and I went out for a hike, along the Dangberg trail.
Wildflowers everywhere, enough water that they can exuberate well beyond the level possible where we live.
At the junction of Dangberg and Sentinels trails, we parted company. I wanted to do more work than did Jacky, so I hiked on up to the rim and some distance along it toward Thunder Mountain. Jacky continued on Dangberg trail.
I heard a loud whoosh, and this guy passed within inches of my head, soared off into space, perched on this snag, turned its head back to look at me and ask, “What are you going to do about it?” Notice the band on its leg.
A view from the top, showing pretty much all of Kirkwood Meadows. We’re staying in one of the buildings down there.
Different angle from much the same vantage point, showing a sliver of Caples Lake and highway 88 as it comes down from there.
Yet a third view, yet further to the left, showing the exposed granite north of here. It is somewhat different geology; the local rock is lava, often containing embedded chunks of rock, which are themselves broken chunks of earlier lava flows.
I presume that these two large rocks are the Sentinels for which the trail was named. The one on the right is visible from Kirkwood valley.
Looking the other direction from the top of Sentinels trail. We’re near the tree line; much of what we see here is alpine meadow.
The flow of lava is clearly visible in this outcropping.
At the top, and maybe in the depths of the ridge as well, the lava is a barrier only 20 or 100 feet thick; the trail runs below the crest, on the side away from Kirkwood valley. I thought there might be views of Silver Lake down the back side, but not from the part of the trail I hiked.
I hiked into the trees at the top right of this picture, but declared victory before reaching the patch of snow. I have only one water bottle, it’s mid-afternoon, and I’m not entirely comfortable with an unfamiliar trail and a minimal to nonexistent map.
Showing how thin the wall of lava rock is at the top.
We usually don’t think of evergreen patterns as particularly artistic, but this one impressed me.
Having already seen some of the distant views, I looked more closely at the wildflowers on the way down.
Went back to the Resort office to see about getting checked in. We’re in a separate building several hundred feet away, a condo room that’s just fine — windows on two sides that can be opened to let in the overnight mountain air! Walked back to the general store for munchies, then returned to the lodge where we sat in the lobby and worked on photos and such.
Home tomorrow; nice to end the vacation on a high note. But no more three-week vacations: it’s just too long.