Monday, July 24, 2017

Grass Lake via Glen Alpine Trail - 7/19/17

Glen Alpine Falls

Grass Lake (below), Susie Lake Waterfall, Jacks & Dicks Peaks (above)

Waterfall in Glen Alpine Creek

Lily Lake
 This year, the hike to Grass Lake out of South Lake Tahoe is a lot about the water crossings and beautiful vistas of waterfalls. To get to the Glen Alpine Trailhead, turn onto Fallen Leaf Road from Highway 89 and follow it until it gets narrower and narrower to the very end where you are pulling aside to let other cars pass you! (It is a slow process!) Glen Alpine Falls are obvious from the car as you take a sharp curve to the left. Pull into a parking space immediately for photos! ... and be early! At the end of the road, there is a parking lot. Straight ahead is the Glen Alpine Trailhead. Grab a permit for Desolation Wilderness and fill it out. To the left is Lily Lake, a popular swimming hole.

Shoe Wash
 Four club members attended this impromptu hike on the excursion's day off and our first "obstacle" was what we dubbed the "shoe wash." There was a trail through the brush on the right side of the road/trail but waterproof shoes can handle the flood.

Hiking up the Road/Trail
 The rough road is still used by summer residents with tough cars. After passing a few residences, we came to the Glen Alpine Springs Historical Site. The last building was an old barn that had a torn off metal sign. The only word on the sign was "Yeti." (... besides the sign that said "Keep Out.")

Yeti Barn at end of Road/Trail

Trail up through Granite & Brush
 After the Yeti Barn, the road changed into a trail going up through granite and brush. The higher views were only slightly smokey this morning and we were able to enjoy glimpses of the Glen Alpine Creek and 2 other large waterfalls. After climbing a little, we turned left at a trail junction. That's when we began our water crossings. We passed a couple who warned us that one log was practically impassable and very dangerous. We had to see for ourselves. Onward! The first log was a cinch. We all crossed it standing up fairly easy. It was the next one that was tough. It laid over a wide section of the creek where the water started down a chute from the pool above.

More Granite & Brush
 First, Kay slowly made it across. The log was thin on the near end and it shook. A couple of knots in the log also made it very difficult. (Not to mention the rushing water of the creek below the log messing with your sense of balance, balance, balance.)

First Log Crossing
 John also tried it standing up but had to fall into the trunk of a tree in the end. Next, Rita got creative and crawled across. But, Setsuko, fearing she would be left behind, finally hopped on the log and straddled it all the way across. Hey, it worked!

Second Log Crossing (Most Difficult)

One at a Time on This One
 There was one more crossing that we used rocks for. Then, we were rounding the corner of the bottom end of Grass Lake. This is a quiet lake with an intricate shape. In the distance above, we could see the large tall waterfall coming out of Susie Lake. Behind that, Jack's and Dick's Peaks rose up. We hiked along the lake on the trail until we reached the rock outcropping that looked like a nice place to take our break. We explored a little further but it was just a nice campsite in the shade. The four of us enjoyed a few quiet moments here then started back.

Third Stream Crossing (Used Rocks)
 On the way back, we were experienced log crossers. Setsuko jumped on that difficult log and did her thing. Kay balanced her way on her feet and Rita did her crawl thing.

Grass Lake Arrival
 What did John do? He just walked across the creek. The water came up to his hips but it was the safest method of creek crossing in the pooled water.

Resting on Rock Outcropping at Grass Lake

Heading Back
 We hiked back through the pine forest, granite and brush then turned right at the trail junction. We passed the Yeti Barn and hiked down the rough road/trail. We passed a few other hikers on our way back and told them all about that log crossing. One man said there used to be a hand rail there ... not anymore! We hiked back through the "shoe wash" and came to a bustling trailhead parking lot. The single lane road was very busy unlike when we traveled it early that morning. Crazy! Anyway, it was a great adventure! Fun was had by all! We'll bring bathing suits next time!

6 miles; 800 feet elevation gain; 3.75 hours

Fun Stuff

Back across the Logs

Grouse Hen & Chick

No comments: