Date: December 23, 2014
Place: Hope Valley Wildlife Area, South Lake Tahoe, California
Coordinates: 38.778331, -119.924538
Length: about 1.5 miles
For many winters I have been driving past this place on my way to a certain ski resort nearby without a second glance. This year that resort fell from grace for me, so while the chikas and their friend were attending what would be their final ski lesson there, me and my friend passed the time in a lovely hike at Hope Valley Wildlife Area.
|A lopsided pine near the trailhead|
A fellow hiker that was there told us that usually at this time that sign is nearly buried in snow, but when we were there there was very little snow on the ground. It was a reminder for me, the Bay Area resident, that all the rains we've seen so far aren't enough to call the California water situation normal. Not yet. The Sierra Nevada isn't getting the snow cover it should at this time.
But there was some snow on the ground. Enough to make the place look extra pretty and to slow us down for fear of slipping.
|Granite boulders in the snow.|
|Hope Valley, view west|
The display of colors on that slope were absolutely fantastic!
A little further north I found a juniper that dropped its load of berries on the ground. The deep blue contrasting nicely with the mat of juniper needles.
At that point three other hikers descended from the trail. They stopped and we all had a nice conversation at the end of which we took their recommendation and left the trail in favor of walking to the grove of aspens on the slope to the west.
The deciduous aspens stand out among the evergreen conifers. In that area the conifers were mostly pines.
The slope was covered with low shrubs and grass that formed round moguls under the snow. We had to be very careful with our footing because the grass was even more slippery than the snow.
Every now and then we came upon a group of large granite boulders, rounded by the elements. All of them were decorated by lichen.
Some very pretty lichen.
We continued south and soon we were walking along a little tributary of Carson River.
When we reached the river we discovered we couldn't approach it. Not at that place. The area flanking the river bank was a flood zone. Some of it was frozen solid, but there was a lot of open water as well. We had to take a detour.
We slowly edged our way southeast. At last, we reached Carson River.
A small cone, but the pine itself could be pretty large. That one in the next photo is topped by a robin.
We made it back in time to pick up the kids from ski school. Next time I come to this area it will be to hike some more. And as for skiing, I'll soon find a new favorite resort to explore.