Peak 9,579ft

Sat, Oct 14, 2017

With: Steve Sywyk

Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile

Continued...

The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit was carved from three much larger National Forests in 1973 in an effort to consolidate the special land management needs in the Tahoe area. It encompasses all the river drainages into the lake, essentially the entire Tahoe Rim. While I was looking for a hike for Steve and I to do on our second day in the area, I noticed that unnamed Peak 9,579ft near Dicks Pass in the Desolation Wilderness was the highest peak in the LTBMU that I had yet to hike. A better reason to choose it was the existence of a trail that goes nearly to the summit, making the effort easier for Steve who isn't all that fond of the cross-country stuff. We'd spent the night at a motel in South Lake Tahoe, but were in no hurry to arise. Because the temperature was forecast to drop into the 20s overnight, we slept in until after sunrise, eventually getting to the Eagle Falls TH near Emerald Bay for an 8a start. The trailhead is extremely popular and already the parking lot was half full even with the outside air temperature hovering around freezing. By the time we would return in the afternoon it would be full to capacity with cars parked alongside the highway in either direction for half a mile.

The hike was longer than I had expected, more like 6mi each way rather than the 4.5mi I had told Steve. Seems there are quite a few switchbacks along the way (many of them appearing to be unnecessary) that added a good deal more mileage than I had gotten off the TOPO! software. The trail is well-signed at numerous junctions as it climbs right from the start, first up to Eagle Lake and then 1,000ft higher as it climbs up to the southern edge of the drainage feeding the lake. There are a few views of Lake Tahoe near the start but soon after it disappears from view until we were at the summit hours later. The trail meets the PCT at the 8,500-foot level just north of Dicks Lake with Dicks Peak rising high behind it. There was still a surprising amount of snow for this time of year lingering in the shadier north and northeastern-facing slopes. We turned left onto the PCT and followed it for another mile and a half as it makes its way to Dicks Pass. We left the trail about half a mile from the pass when we were due west of our summit and followed very easy terrain through sparse, open forest to the top, only a quarter mile away. The extra distance and the 3,500ft of gain made for a 3.5hr effort when we had guessed an hour less. Ooops. While Steve was finding the hike scenic and all that, he wasn't really thinking it was worth this much effort.

Unlike the previous day, the smoke from the Table Fire about 15mi to the west was not blowing our way and the views were quite good in all directions. The higher summits of Tallac, Pyramid, Jacks and Dicks surrounded us on three sides with Lake Tahoe visible in the distance to the north and northeast. We spent about 20min at the summit eating lunch and taking in the views, fleeces on to ward off the chill at the exposed summit. We left a register under a small cairn before heading back down. It would take us more than three hours on the way back, much of this due to Steve's flagging energy supplies. He stumbled a good deal more during the descent as he led us back down, wandering off the trail at various locations while I gently redirected him back on track. He commented that he was glad we weren't going to be doing this for a third day. The trail grew increasingly busy the closer we got the TH. Well before Eagle Lake we had a constant stream of folks coming both ways. Back by 3:30p, I don't think I'd ever seen Steve so glad to take off his shoes and rest his feet. It might be another year before he joins me for another hike like this one...


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