Finally, finally, I ran in the higher mountains around Lake Tahoe! Both runs were good, and presented interesting aspects.
On Saturday, we started at the curve around Emerald Bay and, from the road, dropped down to Vikingsholm. From there, we took the trail to the north to D. L. Bliss State park, and back.
What made this run somewhat unique is the elevation profile:
It's not often that I've done a run where the start is downhill. That part wasn't bad. The part that was bad was the equally steep climb at the end. That was - shall we say - less fun than the decent. The weather was perfect, the group fast (except yours truly) and overall it was a good run. I might suggest the best part was the late breakfast at the Red Hut Waffle House after the run, though. :-)
The scenery along the route is really special, and the portion of the trail along the cliff with the safety chain where you must duck under the overhanging 100 ton boulder is pretty cool.
On Sunday, I made the attempt to reach The Bench from Spooner Summit. This route follows the more typical elevation profile for an out-and-back in the area:
However, this is a bit deceptive, as we weren't able to get all the way to the top: the trail disappeared under four feet of snow at mile 4. We floundered a bit for a while thinking we would go for the top, but decided with others already turned back, it would be a bit straining. We actually had to canvass the snow and slope to find the trail again on the way back. Had we pressed further up, the likelihood of hitting the trail again as soon as we did would have been significantly less and our time out on the hill, significantly greater.
Overall, the week was my highest mileage in more than a year, and my baby cows are letting me know. They are rock hard and tired from the 6575' of climbing in the 39 miles. Is it just coincidence, but the elevation gain and distances are very close to those in the Cirque du Carson
. Hmmm. However that race is a one day thing, not 5 separate runs!