Week 9: Barker Pass to Ward Canyon

The first sign we come to indicates that Ward Canyon is 11 miles.  Only 11 miles?… Phew!  After last week, no problem!

So many things had changed for this run compared to the last 5.  For one thing, it was 8:30am and we were already starting our run.  The shuttle ride was only an hour!  Thanks to our ride from Katie C.’s mom, Ann Linnett, we got a good start at 7:30am and a ride all the way up to Barker Pass where we so thankfully ended our run last week.

This week we had guest runner and 100 mile TRT race finisher, Jeff Brown with us to keep the pace.  We were happy to have him along but a little weary about whether we could keep up or not.

We waved goodbye to our driver, Ann, and headed up the trail.  The fist sign we saw indicated that our destination, Ward Canyon was 11 miles away.  Wow, another big change… only 11 miles?  Thanks for the break TRT!

As Jeff started out the pace with a power hike, Katie C. said that we could start running until we stopped to stretch at mile 1.  Well, from there Jeff, our pacer, was leaps and bounds ahead… maybe we shouldn’t have pushed him off the start. He’d been resting for 2 1/2 weeks, he was full of it.

Up and up we went through a beautiful, dark, wet morning forest as it had been raining constantly for the previous two days.  With the help of the 7.5 mile drive up Blackwood Canyon to the trailhead, we were quickly looking down into deep canyons and across to all the surrounding mountaintops, back into Desolation Wilderness and ahead towards Granite Chef Wilderness.  The trail went back and forth  from perfectly soft, moist dirt to shaley rock/ankle breakers.  In and out of the thick trees and then out to open views across the valleys.  I am sure there were great views of Lake Tahoe, but the cloud and fog was still thick so we couldn’t see quite that far.

After a short downhill it was back up again through some killer switch backs that twisted through trees that were covered in electric green lichen.  Jeff decided to turn on the jets here with his well rested legs…we “enjoyed” trying to keep up.

Sitting just below Twin Peaks with amazing 360 degree views, we stopped for a snack and waved to the Boy Scout troop that passed by with their backpacking gear.  This section has been the most populated with hikers and backpackers.  Shortly after we got moving again, we made the split from the Pacific Crest Trail and started to curve right on the Tahoe Rim Trail while the PCT continues North.  Good bye for now, PCT.

From here it was all downhill towards Ward Canyon.  Through crispy mules ear and past meadows, we were now looking back up at the clouds resting behind Twin Peaks and enjoyed the rain-packed dirt trail until the we had to put on the breaks to walk down very large granite stairs.  Perfect time to slow down because there was still water flowing out of McCloud Falls.  Waterfalls have a way of giving peace.  We stopped for a moment and gave thanks to nature and for putting us in such a beautiful place.

Below the falls we paralleled the river for a short distance along a lush trail of trees and flowers.  Then, we popped out onto a double track trail that was nice and flat.  This took us all the way to Ward Creek Boulevard where our car was waiting for us.

With just over 11 miles for the day we were done with a whole half of a day left in front of us!  Let’s celebrate!

We will proudly be sending a donation to the Truckee Donner Land Trust as we have completed section #9 of our adventure.  Thank you TDLT for all the work that you do!

Next week, we will be running for all the victims of violence in the North Tahoe Area and donating to the Tahoe Safe Alliance.  Tahoe Safe Alliance works to empower victims in reclaiming those rights by providing safety, advocacy, support and education.

Click here to read about week eight.