It was July 3rd, 2007, some friends and my son and I were going to go up Tahoe’s Mt. Tallac, just a nice day hike…
Well, everyone cancelled but I still wanted to go… so I went alone. Things weren’t going right for me in life so I thought I’d use this time to “talk with God”, sort some things out in my mind… it always seemed that I came back clearer after some quality time in nature.
I got to the trailhead and started my hike. I’ve been up Tallac a few times on the standard trail that runs along Fallen Leaf Lake then up to the ridge and to the top. Well… not today! At a few hundred yards on the trail I strangely just decided to turn right angle into the woods and go up the face through the “cross” (so called because when it fills with snow it resembles a rough cross).
Had I known how rough this was going to be I might not have done it, but I was in sweat pants and long sleeves and this was bushwhacking at it’s best! I’m telling you it was thick and coming at you from every angle. I recalled it was like 30minutes to go maybe 1/4mi. Anyone that knows the area knows there is a way to reach the face without all this trouble, but I was already in and not turning back now!
This became a metaphor for life, as I talked with God, asking questions about my life, my direction, I kept on bushwhacking. This went on for maybe an hour and a half till finally I reached a more open area where I saw bear tracks in mud and realized I was also quite alone and life wasn’t always safe.
In a short time I got to where I was near the beginning of the face where it climbs at a strong upward angle! However, arriving at that opening was another very dark muddy area, cool, shaded… and it was filled with little blue butterflies! I mean like a few hundred, low on the ground, many flying, I walked up to them and they didn’t fly away or seem alarmed at my presence. I could literally squat down and pick one up and as I did, some would land on me. These are magical creatures to me, so harmless, beautiful, so arriving at this place was saying something to me.
After all that rough hiking I come this place, like a paradise of life. I stayed for about 15 minutes and then started up the mountain face. You could touch the ground in front of you as you climbed, it was steep and got steeper as I climbed. It was the climb up the face of Mt. Tallac.
Getting way up to the cross there was still snow in places that you have to go around (you lose it on steep snow packs and you’re toast), then I got to the top of the cross and saw an opening to my left up a small stream in between rock walls on both sides. Not being a super climber, no gear, and alone I knew I had better use good judgment here! Well the higher I got into this crevasse the harder it got and the waterfall was now soaking me with ice cold water.
I made a choice at this point… to back down, not a quitter this was a decision where safety prevailed, and backing down was equal in difficulty. More dangerous than scary, sometimes in life we must change and adapt. Back to where I started that part, I went further left and found an easier way up, difficult at first but it became a much better way overall. This took me to a ridge line and some rock hopping to the top. The whole time I was sorting things out… asking, listening for answers.
I had a small daypack I carried water and granola bars plus some extra clothes, a lighter, small flashlight, cell phone. So I took some pictures, had a couple bars, hung out at the top for about 30 minutes and surveyed an “interesting” way down!
It was a way I’d never gone and probably very few ever have down this way, but looking out towards Lake Tahoe it was behind me and to the left (north) down the ridge with a long cliff drop on the Lake side. Once down that it was back to the face but into the tree line, I figured I wasn’t going to take an easy route down either! It was a day of challenges!
It was okay at first but into the tree line a bit and it was bushwhacking again! However, as we know, going down through bushes is much better than going up! This didn’t mean it was easy and it seemed to go on forever. In fact, my running shoes ripped on both sides! During this time I knew it was going to get dark soon and I actually thought about my Faith, putting one foot in front of the other, knowing it would end sometime. In what seemed like a couple hours of bushes, freestyle downhill… zero paths… I came to a road. On this trip, there were no paths.
I mean that was a good hard hike! I walked the roads to get back to my car which was still quite a way from me, I stopped at a cabins hose and drank up as my water was empty an hour ago!
My wife gave me a ride as I didn’t feel like walking another hour to my car! That day… I got some serious lessons about life, Faith, direction. I used every aspect of that day as a metaphor for my life. I won’t do that on purpose again, but I’m so glad I did it! One of my favorite types of hikes at Tahoe are the ridge hikes, they’re fun and challenging at times!
I just wanted to share this story about spending time on such a rough hike and what it meant to me. I recommend you take a partner and prepare for the worst just in case, but this was my time… to sort things out… yes I did come back refreshed in my way of thinking and feeling! Till next time, God Bless,