Monday, October 29, 2012

Big Pines Hwy 89: Lake Tahoe

  Ponderosa/Jeffrey? Pine: cbh 22 feet, 8 in (above)
I drove out to Lake Tahoe over the weekend. I wanted to do a little more tree hunting along Hwy 50, and I wanted to witness the Kokanee salmon spawning in Taylor Creek again this year. I wasn't planning on spending a lot of time looking for trees on Hwy 50, but as soon as I entered the forest, the pines captivated my attention. It wasn't long before the sun was beginning to set.
 Ponderosa Pine: cbh 23 feet, 9 in. (above: This is the largest Ponderosa I have found to date)
Snow fell in the Sierra last week, but temperatures were warm during the day this weekend. I was comfortable in a t-shirt. The snow made it difficult to walk around, my feet quickly became soaked, but there was an added blessing. At one point on Saturday, I dropped my camera and didn't notice until about 20 minutes later. I was able to retrace my footprints and find my camera laying in the snow.
Ponderosa Pine: cbh 21 feet, 3 in (above)
After spending Saturday afternoon looking for trees along Hwy 50, I drove into South Lake Tahoe for the evening. Altitude was affecting me, I noticed I was short of breath and very tired while hiking around. I decided to car camp at the Echo Lakes trailhead. At one point, my car got stuck in the snow, while trying to reach the trailhead. Thankfully, I was able to put the car in reverse and drive backwards until I reached plowed pavement. I slept in my vehicle for the night in one of the side lots near Echo Lake.
 Sunday morning, I drove back into South lake Tahoe and had breakfast at Denny's. After filling up on eggs and coffee, I made my way towards Taylor Creek. When I arrived, it became clear that I had missed the peak spawning. Last year, the creek was packed with fish around the 23rd of October. This year, a couple I talked said that the peak was about 2 weeks ago. There were lots of salmon carcases floating in the creek. However, there were still a few pockets of living activity.
 The highlight of the trip was a small section of forest I found along Hwy 89 that contained some monster pines. The largest Ponderosa Pine I have seen to date was growing there. An epic tree. There were many other large pines growing there too, and I spent an hour or so wandering around.
 Ponderosa Pine: cbh 19 feet, 2 in. (above, right along the highway)
I couldn't shake the feeling that this could be the last time I visit the Sierra for some time to come. I don't know if this premonition will hold water, but I tried to appreciate the moments I had in this glorious land.
Emerald Bay (above , Lake Tahoe)


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