I am not a fan of rainy days. It usually means that I’m forced to spend the day indoors. Actually, I wouldn’t mind rain so much if it weren’t so cold. If rainy season were in summer like in Asia, I think I’d be quite happy with it. But unfortunately in California rainy season is in winter, which means the rain is almost always accompanied by wind and cold. Even when you’re prepared for those situations, it’s miserable.
This past weekend I went backpacking with a couple of friends. We were pretty well prepared for the rain, which made my pack heavy. And for some reason all the military surplus rain gear I have is in this ugly military green color, so when I was all geared out, I looked like a retarded ninja turtle…. At least I was dry underneath my “shell….”
Our hike wasn’t too bad. We started out at the Big Meadow trail head in south Lake Tahoe. Our destination was Round Lake, about a four mile hike. The snow line for the storm was at 8200 feet, we were right around at that elevation, so the weather alternated between rain and snow. When we got to camp we set up a tarp so that we could eat our meals in relative dryness. After a quick meal of crackers, salami and cheese, I went to gather some wood.
In wet weather it’s extremely hard to find dry wood. One trick I learned is that you can pick out wood from fallen trees. If the wood is decayed enough, you can pick at it with your bare hands and get to some relatively dry wood. It helps to not be squeamish around bugs, because there’s all sorts of creepy crawly things in there, especially when it’s wet. It ended up being a bust though, even the driest wood I could find was still too moist to build a decent fire.
The rule of thumb when camping in difficult situations is that if one person doesn’t think they can make it through the night, the whole group should pack out and leave if possible. Dan’s inner clothes had gotten wet, and since we couldn’t get a big fire going, it would be difficult for him to dry out. We decided it was better just to pack up and head back. I’m pretty sure we would have all survived, but it definitely wouldn’t have been fun. When we got back home, Dan checked the weather report again and saw there was a winter storm warning for the area. The winds were gusting at up to 50 miles per hour. It would have been miserable if we stayed, so I’m glad that we left.
Our usual tradition when backpacking is to get a big meal before driving back home. This time we hit up the buffet at Harrah’s in south Lake Tahoe. Bacon wrapped filet mignon and prime rib was a much better meal than the mac and cheese that I would’ve eaten for dinner. I spent the night in my warm bed instead of shivering on the cold floor underneath a tarp. A full belly and a warm bed is something we pretty much take for granted. It’s amazing how much I appreciated those simple joys on that night.
- miles hiked- 8.22 miles
- avg speed- 2.4 mph
- starting elevation- 7200 feet
- max elevation- 8137 feet. (the predicted snow line was 8200 feet)
The rest of the pictures are here. I ended up leaving the DSLR at home, so all these pictures were taken on my crappy Blackberry camera.