Red Lake Peak, 4 dogs, and a New Camera
It’s been a long winter and a long, lingering, lovely late spring. Here in Pollock Pines the last of the dogwood blossoms are finally giving up the ghost for more summery attire. I’ve never seen them hang on this late- the past few years they have been over and done with well before the end of April. The Western Azaleas down in the canyon are officially overdue; they always bloom by June 5th and this year they haven’t even shown so much as a bud.
I’m not complaining, mind you. It’s a very nice change of pace, and I pray it’s not just a fluke. It’s good to see everything green and growing. I even got inspired to have a big garden and rejuvenated some of my old flower beds around the house. This is the California I fell in love with 30 years ago when I decided to migrate here from the land of snow and taxes (ie- New York!)
Driving up the highway on my way home from work I can see that the Sierras are still impressively covered with snow. The sight of the Crystal Range still draped in white always gives me a bit of a thrill. Down here in the foothills the grass is turning brown and everyone is getting out the shorts and sandals. But in the high peaks there are places that are still buried under deep snow pack.
In the news we are hearing warnings about how dangerous the rivers are right now because of the continuing runoff from the snowmelt. Currents are cold and swift, and the incautious pay for their poor judgement with their lives. So I was surprised when a friend forwarded me a report from a hiker who had just been up Red Lake Peak in Carson Pass and said that the path to the summit was fairly dry and walkable with only a few snowy patches! Evidently it was the kick in the butt I had been waiting for.
The garden is planted, the yard is weeded, and the firewood is stacked. Lyssa has a brand new pack and I have a brand new camera! What am I waiting for? So for the first time since last August we headed east up highway 50, up the hill to the high country. The dogs could hardly contain themselves! I reckon their sharp ears had been hearing the call of the mountains a lot earlier than mine did. Silly humans.
Near Echo summit I noticed that there was still a lot of snow in the forested areas, especially on the north facing slopes. I hadn’t brought snow-shoes, just the trail running shoes I have learned to love in recent years. This might be a short hike, I thought, but at the very least I’d find someplace to take some photos and give the dogs a run.
The visitors center at Carson Pass still looked pretty snowed in and there was only one other car in the parking lot on the west side of the highway. But the route up the east ridge of Red Lake Peak looked dry and clear as far as I could see. I grabbed the packs and camera and up we went. Other than a few small patches of snow the ridge was indeed passable for most of the way up to the shoulder. I picked my was carefully up the few snow fields but the dogs made a party of it. Dogs love snow. They roll and frolic and dig and toss it in the air. Tina does somersaults and throws herself on her back and toboggans head-first down the slopes. They have plenty of opportunities to indulge themselves on the way up the mountain. It’s delightful having such joyful companions.
I take my time climbing, stopping frequently to take photos. I have a lot to learn about my new camera. It’s a challenge trying to capture the stunning landscapes and then suddenly switch to focusing on fast moving dogs romping and playing. It’s almost impossible to catch both the beauty and delight of the dogs and the stunning beauty of the landscape in single images, with everything in focus and properly lit, but I keep trying. It’s a challenge sure to keep me busy for years! Here are a few humble submissions from today- I hope you enjoy them, and more to come!