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Hiking Stats as of 11/14/2018
Total Trips:
Total Distance:
Total Elevation Gain:
 325
 3,891.68 miles
 1,060,050 feet

Aug 2, 2014 - Dicks Peak / Jacks Peak

 

Partners: Kyle Breen

Distance: 15.90 miles

Elevation Gain: 4,457 feet

Trip Time: 8:05

Maps and Stats:
On our last outing to Sierra a couple of weeks ago Kyle and I talked about potentially looking for a place up in the high country which would serve as a vacation home/hiking base for us since we make the 2.5 - 3 hour trips up to Tahoe on such a regular basis. Since then I started looking around, setting up Zillow and Redfin alerts to keep me posted on what was available and to give me an idea of what the selection and price range was looking like. We both wanted to look around, which meant we would need to head up to South Lake Tahoe (we are looking along Highway 50 to the west, then from South Lake Tahoe on the northern edge to Markleeville on the southern edge). But heading up to Tahoe to just look at houses seemed a bit wasteful, so we decided to toss in a visit to a pair of nearly 10,000 foot peaks in the Desolation Wilderness - Dicks and Jacks peaks. This would benefit my peak lists as well, with Dicks Peak being SPS #22, WSC #28 and OGUL #33; and Jacks Peak being WSC #29 and OGUL #34. Dicks and Jacks lie in the geographic center of the Desolation Wilderness, so they are not typically seen from the surrounding landscape, despite Dicks falling just 9 feet short of Pyramid Peak as the highest peak in the area. So we knew we would have a semi long day, although the approach was on trail so we weren't too worried. I had mapped out a tour of houses, with the plan being we would look at a couple which were on the way to the Glen Alpine trailhead at Fallen Leaf Lake, then we would visit the rest after the hike.

We had planned to meet up at the Target in Rancho Cordova for a fairly early start, but 10 minutes before I was planning to leave my gardener arrived for my bi-weekly lawn service. He hadn't been able to do the back yard in at least 2 months since I'm never home on Saturdays, so I really didn't want to stop this much needed work. This wound up making me nearly an hour late out the door, fortunately the drive to Rancho Cordova is about 10 minutes longer for me than Kyle and I was able to call him before he had left and tell him not to leave for a while. After meeting up we went by a house in Kyburz, about 30 minutes west of Tahoe. We were both really impressed with this house (it was much cheaper than Tahoe houses), and it was on a private, wooded 4/10 acre parcel. The downside being it was still a ways from Tahoe and was down at an elevation of 4,250 versus the 6,300 of Tahoe. We also looked at a house once we got to South Lake Tahoe, but weren't nearly as impressed. There were no more houses on the way to the TH, so we made the incredibly slow drive down towards Fallen Leaf Lake. We had been down this way once before, back in May when we hiked up Mt. Tallac in a fun snow hike where we had the area to ourselves. Well, today was much different. The one lane road had lots of traffic, and we had to pull over multiple times to allow vehicles coming towards us the ability to get by. As we got closer to the TH there were cars parked on both sides of the road, some even sticking out over the narrow road. We drove all the way to the parking area, and whereas last time there were only a few cars, this time the lot was full and we had to start heading back towards Fallen Leaf Lake before finding a small place to park. It was 12:30 and we were already a bit worn out!

We started out on the trail, familiar to us since we had taken this trail before and would be on it for the first several miles. After an easy mile we passed up the old resort centered around Soda Spring, although unlike our previous visit there was not enough water to actually allow for the springs to bubble up. We didn't linger, having explored this area before and kept up a brisk pace, until we reached Gilmore Lake at 2:15. Our turnoff for Dicks and Jacks was actually a quarter mile back up the trail, but we passed it up because I really wanted to see the lake again to see how different it would look from our last visit. Last time we ate lunch here, tired from the tougher snow travel but today we were moving quickly. I made a side visit to the snowbar area where I fell into the stream back in May, now showing itself to be a series of logs. At least now I figured out what happened - I had simply stepped in between 2 logs, thinking I was on solid ground. We turned around to head back for the trail junction, which Kyle somehow remembered as being snow buried last time we were here - which it was. From this point on, we would be on new ground (until rejoining the Glen Alpine trail at the end of the day.

The trail leading to Dicks Pass was one of the more scenic trails I've been on. Expansive views included the Pyramid Peak/Agassiz/Price massif, Half Moon Lake below, and points in between. As we headed up towards the pass the view of Dicks Peak came into full view, although Jacks, with its lonely snow patch, wasn't as recognizable until we actually made it to the pass at 3:15. From the pass, we thought we would be off trail for the traverse, but we happy to find a well defined use trail that made the going a bit easier. This took us all the way to withing a few hundred vertical feet of the top. As we transitioned from use trail to scrambling, a family of four was coming down, telling us that the scramble was a bit too tough for them. I had thought this would be a class 2 affair, but what they described had to be class 3 - exposure and full hands and feet usage to get up. We were not worried, however, as this sounded like fun, and so we started up the short but fun class 3 rock, as the people we talked to watched from below. The class 3 stuff only lasted about 5 minutes, and once we were clear it was an easy class 2 hop to the summit where we arrived a few minutes before 4:00.

The summit of Dicks Peak offers up some amazing views. The peaks near the shores of Tahoe, including Phipps and Rubicon , a view to Lake Tahoe itself, distant views to Freel and Jobs Sister, our next destination of Jacks Peak, high peaks to the south and finally Mt. Tallac. We located the summit register and signed in, and took summit shots of each other (Kyle and Kerry). We spent about 20 minutes on top, taking it all in and eyeing the traverse over to Jacks before finally getting started downhill.

The traverse was largely class 2, although by looking around we found some fun class 3 sections that we enjoyed. By getting off the ridgeline proper we were able to move faster, and since we had to descend to the saddle anyway there was little point in being stubborn and staying up top. We regained the ridgeline at the saddle, where the ascent of Jacks looked pretty darn steep. It was a bit of an optical illusion, however, and the crux of the traverse was a short and fun class 3 section that really couldn't be avoided. This were multiple ways up leading to a class 2 walk up to the actual summit itself. We arrived on top at 5:15.

We were again treated to some fantastic views, to the west, towards the 4 peaks that we climbed 2 weeks ago (Red/Silver/McConnel/Tells), back to Dicks Peak, towards Lake Tahoe, down towards Half Moon Lake and even a hint of Gilmore Lake on the right side of Tallac, the Pyramid massif, and a great view to Lake Aloha. We couldn't find a summit register, so we took our summit photos (Kerry, Kyle) and after about 10 minutes on top we identified our descent route and got back to work. The descent was down a boulder/talus field which wound just above that lonely snow patch, which looked much bigger now that we were right next to it. We weren't really sure how this route would play out, but using my GPS I kept aiming for the gentlest slope possible. The views down to Lake Aloha, aside from being fantastic, were also a guiding point as we aimed for a smaller lake down and to the left of Aloha. After descending lots of rocks, we found a drainage that we followed for as long as we could. The upside was that we avoided having to do a lot of bushwacking, but the drainage had its own hazards which restricted our pace a great deal. By 6:30 we were nearing Heather Lake, where we would hopefully find and intersect the PCT which would take us all the way back to the Glen Alpine trail.

This plan worked, as the PCT run right along the lake, which was amazingly picturesque against the higher mountain tops. It was quite a long haul back to the Glen Alpine trail, passing by a couple of large lakes that are quite popular with the camping crowd. As is becoming the norm for us, we were in another race against time to make it out before daylight expired, and we were able to barely do so, finishing up a bit past 8:30. With the long drive to get out of the Fallen Leaf Lake area, it was completely dark by the time we were back in South Lake Tahoe, and there was no point in house hunting anymore. We decided to come back in 3 weeks to look again, only on that trip we will be sure to pick out something that we can do in no more than half a day, rather than the nearly 16 miles and 4000+ feet of gain that I somehow thought would be a half day...

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