Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Playing Hooky...

Grouse Lakes Area
(Carr Lake- Round Lake Trail- Grouse Ridge Trail-Round Lake Trail)
(10.2 miles)

But wouldn't you want to play hooky here, too?

So through various circumstances, I have not been up to the Sierras at all this summer. This is not my idea of how a summer should be, and so I decided to rectify the situation. Thanks to other circumstances, a weekday was all I could scrounge up, but it was SOOOO worth it.

As I said before, I was worried about my hamstrings/knee, but decided that even if I walked for 3 miles, it would be worth going--and clearly I ended up doing more than 3 miles. I didn't feel the best I've ever felt, but I was happy that I could run more than I've run all week, and I am feeling optimistic about things.

This run starts from Carr Lake, which is off Highway 20 out of Nevada City, in the Tahoe National Forest. It's called the Grouse Lakes Area (link to a small map of the area) and it is a great summer running trail. From Highway 20, take road 18, and then after 8 miles of windy curves, road 17 for 4 miles of dirt road.
Getting here from my house was not a short drive-- over three hours, but for someone in the Sacramento area, or a Bay Area person on a rare weekend day, it's worth the drive.

I had hiked part of this trail in 2003, and I remembered a plethora of swimmable lakes on this trail. Memory did not deceive me. Within the first 3.5 miles of the trail, I passed by six different lakes, five with wonderful water options. The top picture and these two are just three of the five lakes-- and I don't even think any of these are the lake we swam in last time I was here!

I did feel like I got my dose of Sierra trails though-- this trail leads throug h some very typical Sierra scenes. As mentioned here, there were plenty of lakes, surrounded by huge pine trees and at least part of the lake edged by granite boulders spilling into the lake, reminiscent of the glacial carvings that formed them.

Then we also had the standard forest scene, where the trail led between huge trees and fallen logs necessitated several detours, one almost causing me to lose the trail.

I love this hot and rocky kind of trail the higher it climbs, because when you are above timberline, this landscape turns into rocky spires that promise a sweeping view if you climb to the top. Today I was not remotely near timberline-- Carr Lake started at 5565 feet, and while this is definite ly enough to create a little heavy breathing, timberline is usually around 8-10,000 feet in the Sierras.

Finally, we have our pastoral scene: a trail winding through a forest meadow. This grass was so soft, I could have lain down and taken a nap-- I kid you not.

We ended up splashing about in a lake that was called both Milk and Mill Lake, depending on whether you were looking at a map or signpost. Neko was, of course, ecstatic at the opportunity to splash around. If you have never had the privilege of being the only human being at a Sierra Lake, well, I cannot recommend it highly enough, and it helped assuage my disappointment that this was the only day I spent in the Sierras this summer.

This run must be done in the summer, because they do not plow this road in the winter. Dogs are also welcome in National Forest land. Even though I don't usually worry about kids when writing up trails (who is going to make their child run 12 miles?), this would be a great place to take kids on a hike.

1 comment:

209Mike said...

That looks like a great place to be. I was just thinking the same thing - I haven't been up to Tahoe this summer. Boo. Looking forward to seeing you at SttS.