Monday, July 9, 2012

Day 79: Tevis Cup Trail to Castle Canyon

We climbed up to the Tevis Cup Trail junction, thinking about my niece Krista, who has completed the 100 mile Tevis Cup endurance ride, and my brother Kevin, who has run the same course to complete the Western States 100 mile endurance run ten times, earning 10 silver buckles for finishing the 100 mile ultra-run in less than 24 hours and a gold "1,000 miles in 10 days" buckle for completing the event 10 times. Chili and Pepper were just finishing breakfast when we arrived at the junction, and the four of us began hiking together.

We continued climbing up to the ridge that formed the boundary of Squaw Valley Resort. As we hiked, we imagined what the hillside would be like during ski season, covered with snow.

We descended to a small, gurgling creek. Then we began climbing until we reached a saddle (8,590 ft) near the rocky, volcanic Tinker Knob.

We followed the ridge, enjoying the cool breeze and the seemingly endless views back toward Squaw Valley and Lake Tahoe, west toward Auburn, and ahead toward Anderson Peak and Sugar Bowl's Mount Judah.

Chili read about a ski hut near Anderson Peak, and both he and Sierra really wanted to check it out. Reaching a junction, we climbed the steep side trail to Benson Hut, one of several ski huts maintained for public use by the Sierra Club. We explored the hut, and ate lunch on its rocky front steps.

After lunch we returned to the trail and continued following the ridge to Mount Judah, reaching a large, steep snowfield. Sierra crossed first, then met us on the other side with several snowballs and a devious grin. She managed to lob a snowball at each of us before Pepper started to return fire, sending her running down the trail.

The trail passed through Sugar Bowl, then continued to descend until it reached Highway 40 (7,090 ft). My father met us there with cold drinks, then drove Sierra and I into Truckee for an early dinner before returning us to the trail.  Chili and Pepper opted to hike west down the highway to Donnor Ski Ranch, which was reputed to open for dinner.

The trail between Highway 40 and 80 meandered, wandering up and down the rocky ridge. We stopped briefly at the rest area, a memorial to the ill-fated Donner Party, before hiking on and finding a camp farther up Castle Canyon.

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