Spring Break, 2021
I don’t recall having a real Spring Break trip last year… If I’m remembering correctly, I did a short Spring Break trip down to Joshua Tree back in 2019, but 2020 didn’t quite lend itself to much traveling…
With that in mind, and looking at how much vacation time I’d accumulated over the last year or so, I realized that I really did need to take some time off to escape from work, from Wilsonville, and from getting stuck in my own head. Thankfully, most travel restrictions on the West Coast have been lifted, and my back’s been feeling a lot better… and I was able to finally make the long trek down to Sacramento to visit my friend Mike and finally meet his girlfriend Michelle!
It was a long drive, and a full week of stepping out of my usual little patch of world. I didn’t really go into it expecting anything specific, but I came out having even more appreciation for my friends, and feeling gloriously rested and recharged. I’m not quite back to my old self yet… but this trip was an amazing change to stretch back into myself, and just… explore.
Lake Tahoe is gorgeous!
I mean, I’ve seen pictures before, and I’d already visited once… but the visit doesn’t really count thanks to the whole “breaking my leg” big, and everyone knows that pictures can only do so much justice to a place.
Getting to drive around the perimeter of the lake, and see the amazing views off the side… well, that was a special treat.
Our plan for Wednesday was for Mike and Michelle to ski Squaw Valley, and I would track down some interesting hiking trail to explore. Looking around, I found a few trail options… but after talking with the folks at the information booth I learned that none of the trailheads were open yet, thanks to all the snow they still had.
That… frankly confused me quite a bit, since Instagram was already showing tons of photos from those hikes.
But you know what? Screw Instagram, man. There’s no doubt that it, and a ton of other social media platforms (Ed Note: The irony of Ben saying this on a blog, which is inherently a form of social media, is not lost on him) have been having a rather negative effect on the world… so let’s forget what Instagram says, and instead go on a hike!
Instead of my original target, I ended up taking the wandering version of a hike. I hitched a ride on the gondola with Mike and Michelle, watched them zoom off into the distance on their doom-planks, and then started off in a random direction.
I chose my trail mostly by looking at what people couldn’t ski, and going there.
Not the “can’t ski because it’s hard” option, of course, since Squaw was the site of the Olympics and people there can probably ski things I can’t even imagine. Instead, I took the “can’t ski because there’s no snow” option. It was fairly early in the year still, but the sun had been pretty toasty so far it seemed – while there was still enough snow to ski, it was definitely getting thin in a lot of areas, and had even been burned completely off a lot of the ridgelines.
Which was perfectly fortuitous for me, since I love hiking on ridgelines!
I zipped and zoomed all over, taking in the cool snowy air and enjoying the amazing views afforded by the trees and ski lifts. There’s just something about snow travel that really clicks with me… I love the smell of snow, and I love the cool breezes that come off a snow field when the wind picks up… This was perfect for me, and I absolutely enjoyed every minute of it.
After hiking at Squaw, Mike and Michelle headed directly back toward Sacramento. They both had work to finish up that evening, but thankfully for me I had no such compulsions… which meant that I could take a circuitous route back into town, driving back around the lake and then home via the same winding mountain drives that had brought me to Tahoe in the first place.
(Ed Note: See Ben’s other post titled “The drives” for some info and pictures from those beautiful mountain passes)
On the way, I stopped in at a trail that I’d noticed on the way in, but hadn’t quite had time to stop and check out. A trail called “Pyramid Creek” was calling to me, and I had to answer.
I think it’s a callback from one of my earliest backpacking trips – when I hiked the Tripyramids out in New Hampshire back in 2009ish – but I don’t really know why I felt so compelled to explore this particular hike. I’m glad I did though, since it was exactly the right length to help me keep the blood flowing, while granting some rather excellent views:
I’m pretty proud of myself – I probably did three miles in just a little over an hour, with some legit elevation gain and quite a few stops for photos along the way (obviously, since I posted so many just above this paragraph). It felt good, and I was quite happy with how the quick hike turned out.
I enjoyed, had a snack, and was back to the car before the sun had set – ready to turn up the music and start the beautifully winding road back to civilization…