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Video IIa: Spring Snow Backpacking trip, Round Lake to Showers Lake, June 6, 2010 | High Sierra Backpacker

Video IIa: Spring Snow Backpacking trip, Round Lake to Showers Lake, June 6, 2010

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 14 June 2010

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Spring in the Sierras 

Rifts great and small are opening up in the snow cover. Intense streams have cut fantastic shapes through their snow covers as they hurry down the mountain, while the meadow snows are suffering a different fate.

Run off from the mountains surrounding Meiss Meadow is flowing under the great sheets of snow covering the meadow, first undercutting, then collapsing the snow on the meadow.

Our late arrival at the South Upper Truckee trail head in Meyers the previous evening, at 5:15 pm, had only allowed us enough time to hike up the trail to the edge of the snow line before falling darkness forced us to look for a camp.

The hiking plan was to snowshoe to Round Lake for the first evening, head up Showers Lake via the backway past Meiss Lake for the second night. Day three brings us from Showers Lake out of the Tahoe Basin through the Carson Gap to Round Top. Day four found us heading from Round Top Lake back to Round Lake, where we would spend night four. A quick four mile hike down from Round Lake to the trail head would end the trip early on day five.

Our late arrival put us behind schedule. We were on a heavily forested steep section of the Eastern Flank of Christmas Valley below the snow line, and it was rapidly getting dark.

 The forest floor litter was thick, offering no place to throw down. I removed my pack, and told Ari to kick back and take a break. I headed NW down mountain a short distance, and found a small ridge arm, that was virtually free from forest litter, breaking off from the steep flank. It was about 40 yards long and 10 yards wide, with a perfect flat campsite with nice rocks to sit against. The Eastern tributary of the South Upper Truckee River was short hike down its Western side. 

Ari getting campsite together just below snowline, Meiss Country Roadless Area, backpacking Lake Tahoe

 Early the next morning, the 6th of June, 2010, we departed our campsite to finish the hike up to Round Lake on snowshoes.

Our plan for the day, and the subject of this video, is our snow shoeing trip from our 1st night camp below Round Lake to Showers Lake via Meiss Lake and Meiss Meadow.

This involves a route that would be a cross country route during Summer, as we were not following the trail route.

After a delightful hike up to Round Lake through the soft Spring snow, Ari and I had a snack on the great red rock where the trail up the valley from the South Upper Truckee trail head reaches the North side of Round lake. The various blue hues reflected by the changing combinations of sun and cloud on the wide variety of slushy ices covering Round Lake made a surreal and relaxing place to take a snack break.

I noted the rapidity of the thaw, and pointed out to Aridan that we would have a nice dry campsite on Round Lake's Southern side when we circled back around to Round Lake on day 4, in order to return to the trail head down on the South Upper Truckee Road.

After our break we wound around the Eastern side of Round Lake to its Southern end, hooking left to follow the ascending snow-covered meadow South. At the head of the meadow we jogged to the West, to our right, to look for the cracks between the hills that would bring us to the backside of Meiss Lake.

In less than an hour we reached the backside, the Northern shore, of Meiss Lake. It is much easier to get around Meiss Lake during Winter or Summer, rather than late Spring. In Winter you can walk across Meiss Lake's frozen surface to Meiss Meadow, which is the flattest terrain to head North towards Showers Lake, or South towards the Carson Pass during any season.

Runoff from the mountains was flowing under the snows covering Meiss Meadow, flowing everywhere, including into Meiss Lake's slush bowl. This flow had pushed the lake's shore into all the low points of the hills that surround Meiss Lake. This made getting around Meiss Lake a bit difficult, and messy.

As we passed South along Meiss Lake's Western shore, I studied the terrain to the Northwest, seeking the easiest way to traverse the two ridges that stood between our position at Meiss Lake and Showers Lake.

After a little navigation through a series of chaotic hills and drainages, we cut a couple of big traverses, reaching the flat holding Showers Lake in early afternoon.

It was a delightful hike. I had to be careful of the massive runoff, as it was important to be on the correct side of draining meadows and the streams they fed when you were up high, as these raging torrents of runoff were too dangerous to cross lower down.

The runoff was so heavy that if you walked one hundred yards downstream on the wrong side of a draining meadow or creek you would have a hard time crossing over to the correct side, and would be forced to backtrack to a higher point to ford these heavily draining meadows, let alone the smallest creeklets! 

We had a delightful afternoon and evening at Showers Lake. A duck had set up housekeeping in the small apron of open water where the lake drained at the check dam, and was making quite a racket. A chipmunk had decided to completely investigate our presence, though it was not begging, which was good, as we would not give it food. That's always a bad idea.

The view of Showers nestled in in its snowy mountain shoulder surrounded by snow covered mountains was only equaled when you turned around, and your vista now turned from snow white to forest green as the great green forest sweeping down Christmas Valley towards Lake Tahoe.

The wonderful spectacle of sunset darkening Lake Tahoe's crystal blue waters as it simultanously set the clouds surrounding the lake on fire was a fine way to end a great day in the Tahoe Basin.

Balzaccom did this cross-country section between Meiss Lake and Round Lake during Summertime. Check out his notes, and mine, on this cross country route along with some cool pictures of this location during Summer.

Next Section: Showers Lake to Round Top Lake

Last Section: Round Lake to Showers Lake


Showers_Lake_Frozen_Spring 2010

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