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I was somewhat surprised that Ryan was interested in hiking again today. We had a fairly full day to Freel Peak the day before and I would have expected that he'd rather have gone fishing today when I gave him the choice. It seems he really enjoyed hiking with crampons and thought that was about as cool a way to travel as he could imagine. So after contemplating just where we might find more snow in the rapidly diminishing June conditions, I suggested we go up to Echo Summit and climb some of the peaks above Echo Lakes. This turned out to be a fine choice, as we found plenty of snow on the north facing slopes of the ridgeline heading up to Becker Peak and Talking Mountain on the south side of the lakes.
It would have been easiest to hike directly to the ridgeline and follow this mostly snow-free crest to the summits, but we kept to an upward traverse across the north slopes in order to maximize the amount of snow travel. There were lots of trees and some circuitous route-finding to stay on the snow, but this rather added to the fun of it. At one point we came to a steep downclimb that could easily have been avoided but was necessary to continue further on snow. Going first, I kicked steps in the slope for Ryan to follow, then gave him additional instructions on descending safely while I was walking about taking pictures of him. He was plenty nervous, but performed admirably.
Eventually the snow ran out after an hour and we found ourselves on dry ground for the final 15 minutes to the top of Becker Peak. The summit is a collection of large boulders with a final class 3 summit block and a small perch to sit upon. It had a nice, unobstructed view to Echo Lakes stretching out northwest to northeast before us, Lake Tahoe just visible in the distance. Behind us to the south was the Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort, still looking like it had plenty of snow on the north facing runs.
It took another hour to make our way the relatively short distance between Becker and Talking Mountain, less than mile. The terrain was rougher than we had taken earlier, a mix of boulder-hopping, snow, scrambling, and mild bushwhacking to keep things varied and interesting. Though considerably higher, the views from Talking Mountain were more obstructed, with partially blocked views to the lakes below, and to Desolation Wilderness to the west. Ryan enjoyed a more relaxing break on this broader summit, taking in the sunshine while resting on the granite boulders found at the top.
We were back to the van before 12:30p, making for a nice, half day outing. It was time to head back to San Jose, marking the end of our brief stint in the mountains. We still had a few more outings planned for the summer, so there was little regret in leaving, and as we were driving back I was already thinking what we could do and where we could go on our next adventure.
This page last updated: Tue Jun 22 12:11:04 2010
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