Tuesday: Day 1
Due to the “first come, first serve” permit service and only three designated backpacking camp sites, we knew that we had to plan for an early start to our day. The trail head was located 2 hours south with the office opening at 9AM. For me it was getting up at 5AM since I live on the outskirts and about 30 minutes away from Reno. It allowed plenty of time for everything without having to rush and I prefer it this way these days. By 7:30AM we were leaving town and traffic was unusually busy for a Tuesday. It seems like the population of the city keeps rising and so is it’s traffic congestion. The drive was fairly smooth and luckily we missed a coyote that ran across the road in front of us. What we did hit though, was some construction work and the dreaded flagger, but just as predicted, to the minute, we pulled up in front of the office at 9AM on the nose. The door to the gift shop / permit office was wide open already and the trail parking lot was already bustling with action. “Oh no” I thought, I hope we are not too late. I scanned the area but only saw day hikers and no other backpackers, which was good sign. Luckily we were the first to ask for a permit and therefore we were able to pick our favorite site out of the three. We got everything squared away and got the permit for two nights even though we would only stay one. This way would allow us to leave the tent up all day and have shelter in case it would rain. There was a chance of thunderstorms for both days, plus we could take our time packing up since we planned on staying until late afternoon. We always do and I wouldn’t imagine this time to be any different.
By the time the sleeping bag and my sleeping pad was attached, the pack didn’t feel unreasonably heavy, but it was enough. Especially with the arthritis. I centered and situated most weight onto my hips to put less stress onto my shoulders and legs. Off we went with our backpacks, tripod case, camera case and another little lunch bag (that everybody would comment and loved due the picture imprinted of a bulldog wearing glasses…who doesn’t love dogs, right?) with today’s snacks in tow. “Are we there yet” did cross my mind before I even got started. I love hiking but in most occasions I have to work harder with my joints to get to where I want to and strenuous is always a bit of a butt kicker. And this particular trail is always a bit of the same for me, especially doing it the first time of the year. The trailhead is at 8500 feet which is 4000 feet higher compared to where I live. It climbs 600 feet in a little bit over 2 miles. Nothing too crazy, but even walking on the moderate stretches makes me sweat when you are not used to the elevation. I have to find my pace and regulate my breathing as not to gasp for air trying to get more air into my lungs. Ok I’m slightly exaggerating, but you will definitely feel the struggle and it takes time to acclimate to higher elevations. And then carry a pack of 35-40 lbs. (at least) on top of it, is no joke my friend.
I found my pace, (I always do) but I’m not gonna lie and say I could have easily walked on forever. I was ready to get there, to pitch the tent and put the labor aside to enjoy the day. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the journey, I was just tired from working and I was ready to rest and be lazy. The trail passed little run off water crossings here and there and snaked its way through wooded areas and along mountain ridges. The hillside was in bloom, just as suspected and dotted with a variety of wildflowers offering a rich palette. A series of meadows was ahead of us and the first one was especially rich and thick with wildflowers. A little creek ran through it, supplying plenty of moisture to the lush growth. The trail would narrow through the thick and tall plants as if you had to cross through a jungle. One more turn and it would lie directly in front of us as our excitement was building. We came around the bend and what I noticed first was all the people amidst the “jungle” and then I noticed how thick and grown in it was. I had never seen it so rich and so tall in all the years coming here. It was quite a sight to behold and I couldn’t blame anyone for stopping and pausing to take it all in. After our share of it and taking a few pictures to memorize the moment, we pushed on to the next meadow, one of my favorites. The trail finally levels out and you are minutes from the ridge with Winnemucca Lake lying at your feet in a granite bowl. The meadow is grassy and full of boulders and wildflowers. It’s simply stunning and I’m not sure if pictures can bring it justice. I hope I did bring you an idea of what this area looks like until you might see it with your own eyes. We took a few more pictures before summiting the final steps that gave away the view of Winnemucca Lake and for the first time since the start of the trail, I was able to take the deepest of breaths, followed by the deepest of sighs and the deepest appreciation of being amongst this beauty and spend the night under the moonlight.
It is late Monday night and in a few short hours, I will be up to start my adventure. I’m scheduling a few short posts while I’m out and by the time this one publishes, I hope to have some new beautiful images locked within my camera. I’m excited about the project of trying something new and of course the full sturgeon moon. I’m getting up at 5AM tomorrow and we should be on the road by 7. There are only three campsites at Winnemucca Lake and you can’t reserve any prior as it is operated on a first come, first serve basis, so we want to get there early.
In the meantime, I hope you can enjoy this picture. It is not of Winnemucca Lake but at another beautiful like spot in the Sierra. I will have my phone but most likely no service way out in the wilderness. Yet I will connect on a deeper level as with wifi and if the stars align and I find a signal, then I might sneak a little teaser so you can see what my eyes and soul are blessed with.
We don’t always get to do what we love and sometimes we have to make due with whatever it is, that we have to do. I think we can all relate feeling stuck a time or two, but hopefully we found the opportunity to work towards changing our stars so we can enjoy the things that we love. We can always make changes and we are only stuck as long as we allow the things to keep us stuck. Maybe I’m naive or a dreamer but I believe that there is always a choice to be made.
It’s no secret that on my day off you will probably find me on the trail. Far from the crowds, I love the silence where I can hear myself think. Where often, there is no wifi connection and no important updates, messages and calls that need to be taken. For that day and for whatever time spent away, it is me who puts life on a little hold, even though it continues and goes on with or without my awareness. I’m simply not available.
Today is no different and I’m spending my birthday in the mountains in the hope of escaping the smoke from all the recent wildfires. The brown-grey mass is lingering like a band of thick fog in the sky and I hope to maybe get above it tomorrow to enjoy a better air quality and the view of my beloved mountains.
Have a beautiful day everybody. Xo 💙
A thru hiker would tell you that the trail provides and always miraculously lets you stumble upon exactly what you need. Sometimes it might me in the form of “Trail magic” that could be anything from a left behind ice chest with cold drinks for passerby’s, to people living near the trail providing a home cooked meal or even shelter. Perhaps it can be found in the form of other essential items that are missed while being on a long distance hike, things we often take for granted in our day to day life’s. Never having done a long distance thru hike, I have definitely dreamed about it and my friendship with a thru hiker has fueled my passion to consider such even though it most likely will have to be under my own terms due to rheumatoid arthritis and chronic pain. I have a backup plan though and I know that I will have my own story to write in this adventure when the time comes.
I have backpacked and engage in frequent/weekly day hikes. I have not found any trail magic in the form of ice chests and BBQ’s along the way, but I probably could if I hiked the right section of the PCT (Pacific crest trail) that runs through my neighborhood. Still I have found plenty of magic on the trail and I too would tell you that the trail provides. It has healed me in many ways and has been a place of balance, solitude and where I go to recharge my batteries. It has bestowed me with countless feelings of awe that took my breath away, given me a sense of accomplishment to feel proud about and opened my eyes to what truly matters. It has pushed me and kicked me in the rear at times and I would respond with “No pain, no gain”. You just have to put in the work for some things and nothing in life is free, so if you want the view that you can’t drive up to, well than you need to put in the work. I found love on the trail in too many forms to mention and I’m filled to the rim with an appreciation for all the beauty that I have been allowed to see. The trail provides and I made this little project that has been inspired from the trail providing in a different sense.
“The finished project of what the trail provided”
I found the “L” as the first letter on the trail a few weeks back and a vision came to life. I knew right way what I was looking for and what the trail was trying to tell me. I found the “O” the same day and half of my search was complete. On the next hike in the same area I found the “V” and it is a beautiful fact that I found the letters in the order they find their place in the word “Love”. I knew the “E” would be the most difficult to find and it took three more hikes all to same area to finally find it. I knew the moment I saw it that it was the one and my vision was complete. I’m amazed by the sequence of the letters and the order they were found, as well as their sizes all matching and being a fit within the first attempt. I never found another letter that didn’t match in size and all were the original finds.
“Finding the final letter”
The trail provides and this was a reminder that it has provided me with much love during my journey of peace and finding myself. It’s just a few twigs and parts of branches some would say, yet is has the meaning of some great treasure to me that touches my heart. It’s a part of my journey to nourish my soul, mend the troubles and learn to let go of the things that no longer serve me. And to me it will always have a much higher meaning than just a few pieces of cheap wood. It’s metaphorical and another sign from the universe.
Steven’s Trail is usually one of the first hikes of the year. When the northern Sierra Nevada is still snowed in, it is a quick hop over the border into a warmer Californian climate. The trail follows along the river and eventually grants water access after several miles. The ridge is mostly tree less which leaves it exposed and unshaded. This hike is perfect early on in the year to escape the Sierra snow and beat the harsh summer sun later in the year which makes it too hot for me.
It’s a great wildflower hike and a way to spot some first color. Further you can admire a cascading waterfall about 1 mile from the trailhead and views of the railroad tracks built by Chinese laborers.
It’s my birthday month and Rubies are my birthstone. So it was a no brainer to post this picture and it only makes sense to revisit my trip to Ruby Lake. Not a bad place at all to spend the day. We found the perfect rock, leading into the water and enjoy a front row seat to the sounds of water splashing gently against the rock.
I’m back at work today and I’m definitely dreaming of this place even though I’m still very limited, and I am still fighting whatever made me feel so sick the last two days. I still want to sleep and feel dizzy and lightheaded, so my posts will be shorter and mainly photography based with short descriptions until I feel better and can catch up with everyone.
Another beautiful spot in the Sierra near my home and this Jamison Lake. It requires a steep ascend to get to the lake and we added a little extra with a side trip to Wade lake. All in all a 8 Mile hike with a 2600 feet elevation change. Out of all things you can imagine to see in the Sierra, we ended up seeing a River Otter playing in the lake right below us. Wow, definitely an unusual sighting and definitely a sign from a spirit animal to be followed up upon another time. 😉