Sometime between Beat being on call through Sunday, and my parents arriving for a visit on Tuesday, we found a small window of escape. We loaded up the Subaru and headed for the hills of Truckee, California, where friends of ours were staying in a cabin on the shoreline of Donner Lake. We drove through Sacramento, where the temperature had hit 107 degrees, and continued into the foothills of the Sierras, a region that enjoys a decidedly more truncated version of summer.
Independence Day brought one more training "run" on the Tahoe Rim Trail. We planned a route of 20-22 miles with our friends Harry and Martina. However, there wasn't anywhere to go nearby that wasn't mostly buried in snow above 8,000 feet. No matter. We acquired some trekking poles, ran the trail where we could, and charged the snowfields like overexcited Golden Retrievers when the running stopped. (OK, maybe I was the only overexcited Golden Retriever in the group.)
The views over Lake Tahoe were really not bad.
Of course, the going through long slushy snowfields was entirely too slow to travel 22 miles and still make it back in time for hamburgers, corn on the cob, blueberry pie and fireworks. We settled for a turnaround point about eight miles in. I basically coerced the group into bagging this 9,200-foot "peak" that was really just the highest bump on a very long ridge. Truthfully, I wanted to get a good look at the ridge because we had long since stopped following the proper trail, and I thought a clear view of the sweeping, snow-capped mountains would convince the others that we should spend the rest of the day ridge-running, no dinner and fireworks needed. As far as I was concerned, the training stopped as soon as we hit snow, and everything from that point forward was pure, effortless fun. The more rational members of the group managed to get a leash around my Golden-Retriever-in-snow mentality and drag me back down the mountain.
We still got 15 miles in just under five hours. It was a pretty solid effort for that distance. The July 4th gathering turned out to be a lot of fun. We spent a good part of the evening chatting with Harry's 89-year-old step-father about secular humanism and quantum physics. That guy was as strong and sharp as most anyone half his age — and it was very interesting to meet someone whose grandfather fought in the Civil War.
Today Beat and I went out for more expedition hiking in the form of finding the proper route around Mount Judah. We had only marginal success in locating our route. Make that no success, but we did summit Mount Judah three times during our search, and completed a lot of fully strenuous direct ascents on rugged slopes.
It was fun to escape from summer for half a weekend, although we did keep the best parts of summer — the bright yellows and purples of wildflowers, warm evenings, grilled dinner eaten outdoors, rich smells of sweet grass, charcoal smoke and sulphur powder, and a delightfully brisk submersion in a mountain lake. The thermometer hit 109 in Sacramento on the way home. Time to go stock up on portable snow, in the form of ice cubes for my Camelback bladder.