September 8, 2011: I slept good during the night, had that "wool in the eyes" sensation all night long. Awoke once again to hear some sprinkles hitting my tarp and there was lightning and thunder for a few minutes as well.
I hit the trail first thing in the morning and had some excellent views to the south. I strained my eyes to see if I could make out any of the peaks. I thought for sure I saw the Minarets near Mammoth, but often times I see what I want to see. I imagined walking through those fantastic areas along the John Muir Trail.A great day had ended on the TRT, and I realized I only had two more to go...
I had some awesome views of my own to enjoy today. Lake Tahoe was visible to the west, there was a nice breeze blowing, western junipers to admire and fragrant sage brush to saunter through.
Seasonal streams and springs were still flowing thanks to 2011's heavy snow. I had nice views of peaks in Desolation Wilderness where I had been a couple of days before. Today I was heading towards Kingsbury Grade South, about 19 or 20 miles away.
At Armstrong Pass, the trail slithered through areas where rare alpine plants grow, among them the Tahoe draba. I wish I knew what it looked like before hand. I took a picture of a small white wildflower I'd never seen before, but after looking it up online, it was not the draba. Maybe a return trip is necessary?
Star Lake was one of the gems of the day. I had lunch here, imagined the area in the winter. There were several streams still flowing near the lake, creating glorious gardens nearby.
I love walking trails like the one pictured above. The scenery reminded me of many trails in California, always on the big mountains.
As usual, the sun really intensified by afternoon. After walking through a quartz filled mile or so of trail, it became really exposed. I donned my rain jacket to protect my already lotion covered arms. It was hot, but I was glad I was not being lazy. I kept reminding myself to bring a lightweight, light colored long sleeved shirt if I am ever fortunate enough to hike in the Sierra again.
Later in the afternoon, there were spectacular views of the Carson Valley in Nevada to the east. I was immediately brought back to similar views of the Owens Valley to the south, and still further to the south, the Coachella Valley in Southern California. The terrain looks so similar, the granite peaks jutting out of the desert floor, familiar conifers dotting the mountains, those ever present blue California (in this case Nevada) skies. I love these transition zones and took a break contemplating the mountains. How blessed are we!!
By evening, I was approaching Kingsbury South, and wanted to find a place to camp before entering town. Storm clouds had been developing all day over Lake Tahoe to the west, so I passed up a nice site on top of a granite peak. I ended up stealth camping above the town on sloped ground, with views of the condominiums below.