Peak Bagging: Freel Peak, Job’s Sister & Job’s Peak
One of my favorite activities in Tahoe is summiting its many peaks. I enjoy the physical and mental challenge, am energized by discovering new terrain and find quality time spent outdoors with loved ones to create some of my fondest memories. This summer my cousin TJ, best friend Katie, dog Smokey, and I tackled Tahoe’s tallest (10,886 ft) plus two in a day.
The morning of Saturday, August 20, began with 5:00 am alarm, out of the house by 5:30 with coffee, (necessary). The Freel Peak trailhead is about 1 hour 45-minute drive from Tahoe City, equidistant from King’s Beach. The plan was to meet at the trailhead around 7:30 am. The last stretch of dirt road has no service, can be narrow at times, AWD vehicle advised.
Once at the trailhead the big question is which direction to embark on the 11.9 mile loop. Clockwise is advised due to loose gravel on the descent from Job’s Sister would be exceptionally tiresome to climb and much easier to semi-slide down.
The first section of the trail was lush and shaded with late summer wildflowers remaining. As the trail winds east toward Freel Peak the landscape quickly changes to high desert, with minimal shade, no water and lots of sun exposure. We summited Freel Peak by 10 am were feeling strong and inspired by the panoramic view of Lake Tahoe. Looking East to Job’s Sister and Job’s Peak, we knew the latter part of the hike would be the most challenging.
As we headed towards Job’s Sister (10,823 ft) the ground beneath us began to shift to coarse sand, the temperature began to rise, and we became very aware of how much water we had remaining. For me the climb to Job’s Sister was the most challenging section of the hike as fatigue began to set in. The realization that we had only completed 1/3 of the climbs was a bit daunting. Katie, the ultrarunner in our group kept things in perspective and was great cheerleader as the heat of the day began to intensify and our legs were feeling heavy.
Once at the top of Job’s sister our spirits began to shift as we had only one more climb to Job’s Peak (10,638 ft). Talk of what to feast on post hike seemed to increase our pace. At this point the landscape resembled the Sahara Desert with big valley views of Carson City. The descent back to the car was upon us, the trail vanished and turned into a steep sheet of scree. This section is a bit disorienting, comical and the only way down. The entire loop was 11.9 miles, 4,672 elevation gain and took us almost 7 hours.
My cousin, TJ stated that the 3 peak loop was one of the most difficult hikes he ever completed, and the feeling of accomplishment stayed with him for days after the journey. He added, “You and Katie are monsters, and I look forward to the next one.” What’s on the peak bagging bucket list for next summer you may wonder? Relay Peak, Mt. Houghton & Monument Peak.