This past Sunday I hiked the Mount Tallac Loop in Desolation Wilderness by myself. It’s the most strenuous hike I’ve done to date. At 9.6 miles with over 3500 ft elevation change, this was like hiking 1.5x Mission Peaks back to back on the rockiest, most uncomfortable trail I’ve ever seen.
The length and grade were both tolerable to me, but the fact that the 90% of the trail was comprised of large, loose rock and gravel made for an agonizing trek (especially on the way down). At some points the trail was almost completely indiscernible from the rest of the rugged terrain. It took me about 4 hours to ascend and 3.5 hours to come back down.
Along the way I encountered many friendly hikers, strangely aggressive blue dragonflies, and at least fifty chipmunks. No bears. It was an off-trail scramble across jagged shale to get to the peak. Once at the top, I felt like a cat stuck in a tree! I learnt that descending boulders is far more difficult than climbing them.
I can’t stress enough how important this experience was to me. This wasn’t just about being physically challenged, although that was part of it, too. Being able to conquer this mountain on my own in spite of adversity is metaphorical for me. This was not about proving something to the world. This was about proving something to myself. Nothing but mental fortitude got me to the top of Tallac, and I feel damn proud of myself for that. 🙂
P.S. I’m including a few photos from Baldwin Beach, also in the Lake Tahoe area.