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Showers Lake

Page history last edited by lmckeega@... 10 years, 11 months ago

SHOWERS LAKE, JULY 27 - 29, 2007

Greetings from the Red Leader,

The weather Gods smiled kindly on us for our first workshop backpack of the 2007 season. Skies were clear and of the deepest blue, the sun was warm, winds were cool, and all the thunder clouds hovered over western Nevada. Our trip was to Showers Lake, located 4.5 miles north of Carson Pass. We enjoyed the company of Linda Farmer and Cheralyn Barr (95), Betty Becker, and Cheralyn's friend Bill Tyson.


As of Friday, July 27 Linda, Betty and Cheralyn were the only confirmed hikers for this trip but I waited at the Pleasant Hill Community Center, just in case any one might make a last minute appearance. I then drove to the Mc Donald's in Cordelia to meet any possible hikers joining us from Marin or Sonoma. No one showed up and, after waiting for a half hour, I made my way east, on Highway 88, to the designated bivouac site behind the CalTrans Maintenance Station at Caples Lake. A car camper had arrived before me and I moved up the road a hundred yards to another spot and set up my temporary camp. After securing my spot I drove back down to Kirkwood Meadow and toured around looking at all the million dollar homes and condos. Before heading back to camp I tried my cell phone and found that the rich folks have excellent service in the valley. I was able to call Susan and let her know that all was ok.


On Saturday morning I drove the final 4 miles to Carson Pass and parked in the northbound PCT trailhead parking lot to wait for the rest of the group. I sat in the car, listening to a CD and enjoying the warm morning and soon Cheralyn and Bill drove in, closely followed by Linda and Betty. We were all introduced to Cheralyn's friend Bill before loading our packs and were soon on the trail. The first leg of the hike to Showers Lake winds its way over rocky ground, through scrub pine and aspen, to the base of an open hillside. From there the trail switchbacks 300 feet up to a saddle at the most southerly end of the Tahoe basin. We took a pack break in the shade of some small pines at the "cow pond" before crossing the broad saddle and descending to Meiss Meadows. Though this is a drought year there were a few lush patches of wildflowers where the trail crossed small streams, and the meadows were lush and green. It has been three years since I've hiked this trail and I noticed evidence of some significant trail maintenance. At the smaller stream crossings, large stepping stones have been placed at each side of the channel, to direct the flow and minimize erosion of the bank where the trail crosses. At larger streams more stepping stones have been placed to facilitate "rock hopping". This work defines a single crossing and keeps hikers from adding to the erosion problem. In the twenty four years I have been hiking this area increased usage of the wilderness has degraded many of the meadows and there is much less trail maintenance being done. It was a pleasant surprise to see these well made improvements.


We trekked on, hurrying past some swampy mosquito ponds, to the start of the final climb to the lake. The day had heated up and now, missing the cooling breezes, we began a sweaty climb through more wild flowers, until we topped the hill and dropped to the east shore of the lake. There were more campers than I have ever seen at Showers Lake and we hunted around before picking a spot for our three tents and dropping our packs. We soon had our tents set up and were relaxing in the welcome shade around our camp. The sun was still a few hours above the horizon when we began to set up for dinner; stoves and food bags were broken out and we hunkered down on logs and SlingLights while waiting for water to boil. Linda had snap peas to share and had also brought two (2) bags of our favorite, Raspberry Crumble. I had packed my food without writing out my usual meal menu, and had forgotten my tea. Fortunately Cheralyn and Bill had tea to spare and I enjoyed a hot cupa. After dinner we passed around the Raspberry Crumble, and moaning in ecstasy, "licked the platter clean".


While we were finishing our dinner I noticed two young men wandering back and fourth on the trail next to our camp. They appeared to be through hikers and I went to talk with them. They were "Decibel" and "Scoutmeister" and thought they had missed the trail beyond the lake. I pointed them in the right direction but they decided to stay the night at Showers and hike 7 miles to Echo Lake the next morning. They were going to pick up supplies they had mailed ahead and had planned going to take two zero days in South Lake Tahoe. I mentioned having met another through hiker, "Axe", earlier in the afternoon, and they said they had been hiking with him and would probably meet him in SLT. I commented on the fact that they seemed to be "behind the curve", timewise, and they said they had not started from the Mexican border until late May. They were thinking of "flip-flopping" to Canada and starting south, since they estimated it would be mid October when they finished their hike. I wished them happy trails and they went off to set up camp.


Back in our camp dinner was over and Cheralyn, Bill and I adjourned to our usual after-dinner vantage point on the boulders at the end of the ridge overlooking the Upper Truckee River Gorge and the city lights around Lake Tahoe. As the dusk deepened a few mosquitoes joined us and we slapped on some Deet. We were all tired and wandered back to camp. Soon we were all zipped in for the night.


At 6 am I arose and gave everyone their wakeup call. We all commented on the unusually warm night and thought we should get on the trail so as to beat the heat, on our hike back to Carson Pass. I spent some time reorganizing Betty's pack and we were on the trail shortly after 9. Our hike out was warmer than the previous day and we took a pack/snack break in a shady spot a little before our climb out of Miess Meadow. We didn't get any cooling breeze until beginning the climb up to the "cow pond" saddle, where we stopped again. From there it was almost all down hill back to the parking lot. Linda, Betty, Cheralyn and Bill were going to stop for lunch on the way down the mountain but I had to drive around to Ebbetts Pass and verify the road into Highland Lakes for our next hike. We said our goodbyes and seeyalaters before heading off. It was a really great hike and we wish more of you could have made it.


Red Leader out


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