Week 5: Armstrong Pass to Big Meadow
The wildflowers are out and this run had them all! Starting at just under 8,500 ft of elevation and climbing to a max of 9,445 ft, we saw all that the High Sierra has to offer for wildflowers this time of year. I know we will see more as the summer goes on, but it sure did feel like we were treated to them all. We stopped to see wooly mule ears, lupine, snow plants, penstemon, crimson columbine, indian paintbrush, and more. This slowed down our miles per hour, but it was worth it!
For this section of trail, getting to the trailhead was the biggest challenge. Thanks to Brad Tyler, we had a 4WD ride up the very rocky and bumpy Forest Service Road 051 that we had to run down last week. After leaving Truckee, driving half way around Lake Tahoe, dropping a car at Big Meadow, waiting in construction a few times, and stopping for a bathroom break, we were finally starting our run at 11:00 a.m. on the hottest day yet this summer.
We had one mile straight up to get back to the Tahoe Rim Trail where we left off at Armstrong Pass last time. We were on our way and the sign said 9 miles – sounded kindof short! But up and up we went, passing day hikers, backpackers, and even a mountain biker. It was a very different environment with a desert feel at this point and both of us were feeling slow and heavy at the high elevation and almost 90 degree temps. Saved by the call of the office, we had to stop and take a food and water break while Katie Tyler sorted out an offer coming in.
Feeling refreshed, we were off again, over the mountain and around the corner into an entire hillside covered in wooly mule ears and sprinkled with all kinds of wildflowers. This was quite the contrast to the burnt desert scenes we were in just minutes before. We had to stop and smell the flowers!
Then, out of the field and POP! our only real peek of the day at Big Blue. At this point our descent started through Freel Meadow, lush and green. We just couldn’t get enough of the variety of flowers, and of course we found our favorite trees along the way too.
A beautiful windy singletrack descent was speedy and fun for us to race down. The trail was sandy and soft so we were able to work on our downhill skills. Katie C. tweaked her ankle just a mile before the end, but true to form she toughed it out and finished in style.
11 miles complete and we made it to Big Meadow parking area! It was a short, fun section and a good break to prepare us for the next 3 legs which will be no easy task.
This week we will celebrate the beauty of Lake Tahoe and another section completed by sending a donation to The League to Save Lake Tahoe. Thank you for all the work you do to keep our jaw dropping every time we see another view of that beautiful blue water. Www.keeptahoeblue.org
See you next week for segment 6 – Big Meadow to Echo Summit.
We will be running for a very special boy, Jonathan Sivao who is fighting a type of cancer called Medullablastoma. The Sivao family lives in Truckee and needs support and good thoughts. Jonathan has been doing well so far with his treatments, but still has some challenges ahead. We will be thinking about him as we take each step towards Echo Summit next week.
Wish us luck!