MT. TALLAC (9,735') 12X AND ELLIS PEAK (8,740') 4X August 12, 2003

Enjoying the nicer temperatures, at home, for the time being, I figured it was time to bag another couple peaks. Summer is rapidly slipping by, and maybe in another month or two, the snow will start to fall, up high.

Most all of my big peak plans had come to nought. I wished for a few, new, High Sierra peaks, but it appears not to be forthcoming. I see now, Colorado is supposed to have the highest rate of West Nile disease, carried by mosquitoes, so I may have to rethink my plans to finally see the fall colors in the San Juans, again.

I motored east, this Tuesday morning, on U.S. 50, and came to Mt. Tallac Trailhead by about 10 a.m. The weather was a bit warm, but things became cooler, higher up. I started up the trail, and began snapping photos already. The trail climbs up a lateral moraine, and passes a couple small lakes.

Catching up with a few hikers, I started up the steeper part past Cathedral Lake. There is no snow left on the entire route. I followed the switchbacks to the high plateau, and sauntered merrily up the trail. Flowers still bloomed fine, but with none of the larger white flowers I had enjoyed photographing once. Did someone find them and pick them?

I did some good hiking time, to summit after three hours, almost exactly. I tend to check my watch, and try for easily remembered times. Several parties were already on top, and I shot many photos. More hikers came up, and I drank my cold soda, then watched a chipmunk nibble on some scrap of food. I tried to achieve a long panorama of the Lake, with a few tries and settings, for my new software.

Only some clouds low on the southeastern horizon marred the clear view. I knew that too many of my telephotos come out blurred, so snapped again and again. The brisk wind kept me from holding the camera very steady.

It was soon time to head down. I really scrambled down the rocks on the trail, jumping and hopping with speed. I saw I was doing so well, then thought of doing another peak this day. Back to the car by 4 p.m., I quickly motored off and headed north along Highway 89.

Emerald Bay was so gorgeous, but I declined to stop for photos. Coming to the side road to Barker Pass, I motored up, driving higher and higher. I parked near the pass, and started my second peak hike by about 5 p.m. I knew the trail from here to Ellis Peak goes fast, but the sun was starting to get lower in the sky. I hiked on the dusty trail along a forested hill. The trail soon ascends to a beautiful view, with picturesque snags on top of a ridge.

Seeing no one on this trail, I sauntered along, snapping photos, and passed through a large, mossy, red fir forest. Magnificent!

The trail crosses a dirt road coming up from another side of the mountain. Trail bikes use the route I hiked up. None of them were buzzing about, now, thankfully. The route then follows a dirt road around to the southeast side of the peak, and then a good use trail heads for the summit. It took me some 1.5 hours for the three miles, one way.

I enjoyed the late afternoon light, and snapped photos again. I looked for a register, and found nothing. I had left one, years ago, but so many 4WD'ers and dirt bikers visit this summit, it would probably fill up quickly.

The view of the Lake is expansive. A few tall trees block part of the view, but this would be a good summit for adventurous drivers with Jeeps or high clearance SUVs. Good for a non-hiking companion! The foot trail to the true summit is only perhaps a quarter mile, with maybe 200' gain. A little exercise after all that riding!

I started down, mindful of the time. I snapped many a sunset photo, with glowing reddish light on the trees and distant peaks. The high clouds turned red as I approached the car, and I motored off by 8:20 p.m. Watch for bumps, in the 99% paved road.

The Mickey D's in Truckee provided some cheap food and drink, and I made a driving loop, speeding back west on I-80.

My hiking stats were 15.2 miles with 5,100' gain, total. I snapped some 260 digital images.

I used a full three liters of water, with one can of soda. The wind on Tallac kept the bugs away, there, but I was bitten, returning from Ellis, a few times. No repellent on my legs. Despite the wind and chill, I wore only shorts and my MW polyester T-shirt, the entire day. My boots, used now from street walking, did fine with no hot spots or blisters.