Yesterday I got back from my backpacking trip with my brother. We went to the Desolation Wilderness directly above Lake Tahoe, and ended up only staying one night instead of two… because we were completely unprepared for all the snow we found, or the great storm that hit us the night we camped out.
Here are some highlights from writing about it yesterday while at the cafe:
The trip was awesome, chillingly scary at times, and ultimately triumphant–we made it back in one piece!
The trek back to our car from the campsite was joyous…because we survived it! Our plastic bags around our feet kept our feet (relatively) dry. The “claws” around our right hands (bags tightly wrapped around the hand to act as mittens) allowed us to anchor ourselves into snow while we traversed sharp inclines on the hill. Overall, the trek was not as bad as it seemed it might be the previous night as we lay in our tent being pummeled for over eight hours by scary winds that shook the yielding tent violently over and over and over again. And despite the snow that poured down early in the morning, it seemed lighter and pleasant by the time we got out of our tent at dawn.
I ignored the signs. When the man at Eagle Lake, there with his family, said to me, “you know there’s a winter storm coming, right?” I said, “Oh yes.” Of course I didn’t really, blowing him off, thinking to myself he was just being negative. Except he was correct! It was a winter storm… in May!
As we began hiking, we saw the snow, we marveled at it, but we really didn’t reconsider our plans. I held onto the idea that, since it is May, that the snow on the ground was on its way out. I expected that it would be melting more each day. It wasn’t until we set up camp that we really reconsidered. The decisive moment was when a pot of snow took 45 minutes to boil. That’s when we knew we had to call it, and made plans to return.
That night we were harangued by wind. I probably slept one hour. The constant tumultuous dance of the winds bashed ceaselessly against our tent, as we lay helpless and concerned. We had never been in anything like it! I felt as if we were in the vortex of a massive electrical force, the elemental center of a huge power surge, as if we were witnessing the spirits of nature in their unleashed state. The city dweller in me, used to a shell of humanity on all sides, was terrified. It seemed so strange and fierce… as well as magical and powerful and inviting.