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37. Mt. Rose (07/04/97)

Hikers (6): Beth, Nick Pe, Peter, Russ, Taylor, Vivek
Distance: 12 miles
Rating: 5 difficulty, 10 beauty
Park info: Desolation Wilderness northeast end of Lake Tahoe

Write-up by Peter

The first INCH hike outside California!

We headed up to Nick's place in South Lake Tahoe for July 4th weekend. The weather was great, and we looked forward to doing a good hike. We also had the V-man along for his first INCH experience. What could be better?

We got up bright and early and after a quick stop at Safeway for supplies, we headed over the border to Nevada and the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe. There was not a cloud in the sky and the lake looked bright blue under the early morning sun -- gorgeous!

It would not be a true INCH hike without some sort of goof-up, and we got this one over with quickly. We loaded up the gear, slapped on the sunscreen, did our INCH cheer, and hit the trail. After walking around a flat meadow for the better part of a mile, we found ourselves circling around and heading back to the starting point. This was not the Mt. Rose trail! DOH!!!!!! On the plus side, we did see a couple of llamas walking around the meadow ...

We consulted the guide book and drove down the road about a mile and found the right trailhead on the other side of the main road.

1, 2, 3, ... INCH!

While Rusty and I made time to sign everyone in on the sign-up sheet (including going back to the car to get a pen) the rest of the gang took off. Selfish buggers!

The first couple of miles consisted of gentle uphill fire road. Even though it was July and pretty warm, there was still snow on the ground due to the high elevation (to this day I don't understand how there can be solid snow on the ground when the temperature is in the 60's). We did notice a lot of people had brought their dogs along on this trail. Hmmm ....

The pack had spread out ... Nick and Vivek were out in front, walking at a pretty good pace. Taylor and Muffy were in the middle, and slowing down. Rusty and I caught up to them at the fork heading off the fire road.

The snow on the ground was pretty deep at this point and we found ourselves slipping and sliding all over the place. As we climbed over the big hump of snow and down towards the huge meadow on the other side, the footing was pretty slick. As we descended down into the meadow, the melting snow had turned the ground to mud and we were waiting to see who would be the first one to take a dive into the shiggy.

We all survived the harrowing ordeal and headed out towards Mt. Rose, which loomed off in the distance. Rusty was determined to catch the front-runners and picked up the pace. I stayed back to enjoy the beauty of nature (if you know what I mean).

After walking for a couple of miles, we began the uphill climb towards the summit. The high altitude was starting to take its toll, and we had to stop frequently to catch our breath. The other guys were out of sight by now. We were also starting to get hungry, so we took timeout for a quick snack before attempting the final couple of miles. As the girls and I sat on a rock munching on apples, a couple more hikers and their dogs went by. The poor things had their tongues hanging out and were panting heavily (the dogs, that is). What's with all these dogs on this trail anyway?

Onward .... boy, that peak is a lot farther away than it looks! The girls started to fall behind ... I pressed on. After what seemed like forever, the trail led into a large clearing, which looked like a perfect spot to set up a camp, and in fact some people had already done so. Looking back, you could see a beautiful view of the snow-covered peaks below.

The next section of trail was markedly steeper as it led up through some switchbacks and up above the tree line. It was pretty slow going -- that altitude was not kidding! Right at the top of the tree line, the trail led along a narrow ledge looking out over a vast open valley. Panic time for me! It did not help matters that a couple of dogs decided to choose that particular instant to start barking away at me (I guess it's true that they smell fear!). Just as it was about to get real ugly, their owner showed up and dragged them off. Whew!

The final assault to the summit ... the trail led out into a big open space with clear views on all sides and it seemed the whole world was beneath your feet. The last half-mile to the top was not very steep, but the trail wound its way through some rocky terrain, making it tough on the feet. It was noticeably windy out in the open and it felt like you could be blown off the mountain with a strong gust of wind.

As I approached the summit, I could see Nick, Vivek, and Rusty sitting there unwrapping their sandwiches. I turned around and gave them a quick shot of The Moon before ascending up to the top. I was actually only mildly terrified at that point, but then I saw the sheer drop going down the other side. Forget about it! As I hugged the rock for dear life, I scribbled my name in the signup book with a shaky hand and then promptly turned around and headed straight back down. Rusty had bet the other two guys that I wouldn't last more than 10 seconds at the top -- easy money for The Man!

As I headed off the summit, I came across the girls struggling up the final approach. Having assured them they were almost there, I headed back down to more hospitable terrain. Back down at the big campsite clearing, I finally stopped for lunch. The view was beautiful, but for some reason the place was infested with bugs. I was too hungry to care. I snarfed down my sandwich, then picked a nice comfy tree trunk and lay in the shade, waiting for the rest of the group to come back down.

After about 45 minutes, the rest of the gang showed up and we headed back down. For some reason, the trip back from the campsite to the fire road seemed much longer than the way up (even though we were mostly going downhill). I guess the altitude had worn us all out. After what seemed like days, we finally made it back to the fire road, then back down to the car.

Later that night we missed the July 4th fireworks in South Lake Tahoe, but I don't think V-Man, Rusty, and Muffy remember too much about what happened that eveing!

Milestones:
Vivek's 1st leaf



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