Any avid whitewater enthusiast can appreciate the commitment it takes to pack up the car and drive the many miles required to get to your favorite river. Generally, you also have to run shuttle, and then there is the long drive back home. You stare at the road through cracked capillaries produced by countless holes and the sun’s glare with a tired smile generated by the many miles of majestic scenery and quality whitewater. It is all very worth it, but if often comes at the expense of extensive wear and tear on the driver, his or her car, as well as a hefty gas bill at the end.
Hailing from the Southeast, driving to my favorite rivers was long, but not a journey of epic proportions. It was usually a couple of hours to the Green, Overflow, or Chattooga, and I never felt put out by it. When I moved to California 7 years ago, driving to the put-in took on a whole new meaning. Not only was the cost per gallon significantly larger, but also the distances were exponentially greater.
Megee Creek is a beautiful high Sierra hike located 10 miles south of Mammoth Lakes, CA.
My wife and I chose this particular hike for our Labor Day Weekend retreat because of our previous year visit. We had been very impressed by the diverse geology, incredible profusion of wildflowers, and impressive high alpine views. However, we only made it 3 miles in before we had to turnaround.
This year we had 3 days, backpacks, and no one else to dissuade us from making it all the way to Big Megee Lake, which is situated at 10,500 feet, and 7 miles up a fairly grueling climb.
We followed the twists and turns of Megee Creek up and up, and it was not long before we became oblivious to the heavy loads we carried on our backs because of the beautful views. We eventually made it to Big Megee Lake and setup camp alongside its shores.
The next day we slept in, waiting for some high Sierra howling winds to subside, and eventually got out of the tent, fixed breakfast, and prepared for a day hike over Megee Pass.
Last weekend turned out to be one of the most phenomenal weekends of the year at Mt Rose Ski Resort. Lake Tahoe performed a bit of magic and created a lake effect storm that deposited 10-12 inches of the lightest powder that I have skied in a loooooooooong time. Interestingly enough, places like Alpine and Squaw received only minimal amounts. The picture is taken from the East Bowl lift.
When you find a big mountain chain in close proximity to the largest ocean on the planet, it is inevitable that you will experience variable conditions. What amazes me is how often the Lake Tahoe area produces fantastic conditions despite its physical location.
Saturday started off windy and overcast in Tahoe, so I elected to spend the day in Reno dealing with all of things that have built up over the weeks of skiing. One of the things I love about Reno is that the sun can be shining in the valley while it is absolutely nuking up in Tahoe. Finished my chores, went for a mountain bike ride, and then headed up to the Crystal Bay Club to catch some free bluegrass. Crashed at my buddies place in Kings Beach and awoke bright and early Sunday morning with 7-10 inches of fresh on the mountain.
My friend and I b-lined it to Alpine Meadows, put our boots on in the parking lot to the sound of many bombs being detonated by ski patrol, scored first chair at Scotts, and barely stopped to rest the entire day. The wind loaded much of the snow in various gullies and trees, so it just took just a little bit of poking around to find some really good places. One of the things I really like about Alpine is that if you have the motivation to do some traversing and hiking you are bound to score fresh turns throughout the day.
The light was a bit flat with the sun coming in and out from behind the clouds, so it made it a little difficult to catch good pics. Nonetheless, I came out with a couple of good ones. Hope you enjoy.
While I enjoy the convenience and comfort of a high-speed ski lift just as much as the next skier, there is something unique and special about scoring fresh turns under the power of my own devices. Backcountry skiing, or snowboarding, leads those adventurous enough to pursue it off of the beaten path to areas less skied by. The Lake Tahoe region possesses countless miles of exceptional terrain with breathtaking views only further enhanced with the back drop of that big, blue, beautiful lake that so many people travel whole continents to see.
The past couple of weeks have delivered stellar conditions with light fluffy powder falling upon the Sierras foot by fantastic foot. The resorts have been excellent and the backcountry exceptional. I still marvel at the ease at which I can wake up at my house in Reno and so quickly am in the midst of such awe-inspiring mountains filled with so many options; and deep turns.
This past weekend I chose to spend one day on the West Shore hiking Mount Tallac, and the next day hiking and skiing in the area adjacent to the Mount Rose Ski Resort. Both days were phenomenal. The climb up Tallac took approximately three hours, but it was definitely worth it. The views into Desolation Wilderness and out across Lake Tahoe would have been rewarding enough for the effort it took, but then the big payoff came when I actually got to ski the roughly 3,000 ft of vertical back down to the car.
Despite being quite exhausted from the day before, the next day proved to be equally impressive. The area around Mt Rose is filled with varying lines that offer many different levels of pitch and position. My friends and I skied a few different lines, and each run brought giant grins to our faces. What is especially cool about this area are the mixed views that you see. On one side you can look out over Reno, Washoe Valley, and beyond, and on the other you can see Lake Tahoe and the Sierra chain as it stretches south towards Yosemite.
If you choose to venture out into the backcountry, please remember to carry the essentials: water, extra clothing, a beacon, probe and shovel. While backcountry conditions in Lake Tahoe are generally safer than places such as Colorado and Utah, avalanche dangers are always still a factor. Be prepared! All of these items are available from such stores as Reno Mountain Sports and The Backcountry up in Lake Tahoe. Avalanche classes are often conducted at REI, Patagonia, Squaw Valley and Kirkwood. Additionally, places such as The Backcountry even offer guided tours.
Until the next hike, I am eagerly keeping an eye on the weather – looks like more snow is on the way!
In March of this year we solicited photos from RN&R readers in hopes of getting a few we could use in our Sierra Adventure Guide. As an incentive, we offered to publish the winners and give the Grand Prize Winner VIP passes to the Nevada Land Conservancy’s showing of the Banff Mountain Film Festival in early April. The main image you see on the cover was submitted by Reno’s Robert Payne, who shot this spectacular photo above Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe. Other cover photos are courtesy of the Nevada Commission on Tourism.
About this Guide
If you live in the Truckee Meadows/Lake Tahoe area, outdoor recreation and adventure are probably some of the reasons you choose to make this your home. If you’re a visitor, those may also be part of why you’re here. We’re blessed with an abundance of year-round adventure possibilities (hence the Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitor’s Authority’s label, “America’s Adventure Place”). We couldn’t imagine covering everything our little region within the Sierra Nevada has to offer within these pages. But we hope to give you a glimpse of some exciting activities, along with resources so you can find out more. So go ahead and explore!
Here in the Tahoe region there are so many recreational opportunities at one’s fingertips. With the distinctive seasons, beautiful mountains, and close proximity to the coast or desert, it is a wonder that anyone has time to venture elsewhere. However, a vast world lies open for exploration with many different cultures and characteristics to amuse and amaze the curious mind.
Interestingly enough, a particular expeditionary company by the name of Bio Bio Expeditions operates right here out of Truckee, and their specialty is to guide those who seek to see foreign locales away from the fray of other tourists. It is this particular company that enabled me to experience Peru in a way that I will never forget. The mission was to navigate one of the deepest canyons on earth, the Cotahuasi.