Still no pictures – soon, I promise – but here, in roughly chronological order, is the tale of last week’s trip.

Last Saturday (June 8) we flew out. We were originally scheduled to fly into Reno via Phoenix, but the Boston to Phoenix flight was cancelled. Apparently there was neither a plane nor a crew to fly one available, due to weather problems elsewhere in the country the day before, and America West had called both of our daytime phone numbers to inform us – at close to midnight. Grrr. Needless to say, neither of us got the voice mail, so the only alternative by the time we showed up was to get to Phoenix via Columbus, Ohio. That’s right: Boston to Columbus to Phoenix to Reno, with a long layover in Columbus. By the time we got to Reno, rented a car, and drove from there to Tahoe City, we were pretty tired, but we made it.

On Sunday, we did a short hike to Five Lakes, near Alpine Meadows. There was actually snow on the ground and on the bushes when we started, but it had all burned off by the time we headed back; when I get around to posting pictures, I’ll include before and after pictures of Cindy in the exact same spot to show the contrast.

Monday through Wednesday I was at the OceanStore/ROC retreat while Cindy went hiking. You can see lots more about the retreat in my previous entry, and pictures from Cindy’s trips will be posted soon. On Wednesday afternoon we went around the eastern short of the Lake Tahoe as far as Spooner Lake, then came back to town for some stuff, and then went around the western shore to South Lake Tahoe.

On Thursday we did our big hike, to the summit of Mt. Tallac via Gilmore Lake. Gilmore Lake was quite beautiful, and marked our first encounter with what we later discovered to be a Mountain Chickadee. Initially we called it the Turd-Eating Chickadee, for reasons that I don’t think I need to elaborate. The trail from the lake up to the summit was complicated by false cairns and some sections of the trail being obscured by snow, and then there was quite an arduous rock scramble at the end, but it was well worth it. The view from the top of Mt. Tallac is absolutely spectacular in almost all directions.

On Friday we took it relatively easy. I was glad for the rest, not so much because I was tired but because I’d picked up a slight pinkish tinge the day before. We went to the Forest Service visitor center, then on a boat where we saw Mt. Tallac from the lake side and boggled that we’d actually been up there. We wound up the day with some quiet strolling and an excellent meal at Camp Richardson.

Saturday was also relatively unexceptional. We hiked around Echo Lake to three other lakes – Tamarack, Ralston, and something else I don’t remember, then took the Echo Lake water shuttle back. Nothing quite as dramatic as some of the other stuff we’d seen, but still excellent hiking.

Here’s a partial list of birds and animals we saw, that we don’t get to see back home (or at least not often):

  • Steller’s Jay (everywhere)
  • Brewer’s and Red-Winged Blackbird (many places)
  • Dark-Eyed Junco (first at Five Lakes, also other places)
  • Western Tanager (first at Five Lakes, also other places)
  • Mountain Chickadee (first noticed at Gilmore Lake, also other places)
  • Osprey (Spooner Lake, Emerald Bay, Mt. Tallac)
  • White-Headed Woodpecker (near Echo Lake)
  • some as-yet-unidentified kind of merganser (visitor center)
  • some kind of diving bird (visitor center)
  • some small yellow-green bird that moved too fast to see details(various places)
  • miscellaneous swallows (esp. in Tahoe City and at Camp Richardson)
  • all sorts of indistinguishable squirrels, chipmunks, and pika (many places)
  • marmot (near Ralston Lake)

We picked up several interesting items, almost but not quite making up for the loss of Little P:

  • a lead-crystal block containing a “bubble sculpture” of a deer (very interesting process to create these, and I’ll probably explain it when I have a picture)
  • a cute quarrystone frog that now sits on my monitor at work
  • a genuine Zuni onyx sculpture of a platypus (yes, I know there are no platypi where the Zuni live; apparently they don’t know that, though, so cope)

All in all, it was a most excellent (and productive) trip. If you ever get a chance to go, especially in the short interval between snow and mosquitos (like we did), I highly recommend it.