Mount Rose – Failed Attempt

Memorial Day weekend was fucking great.

Miki surprised me by taking me to hike Mount Rose, a hew-edge mountain a little north of Lake Tahoe. This from the man that says he doesn’t hate hiking but “I don’t like to walk uphill.” Nevertheless, he has become quite the hiker and I was up to my eyeballs in glee as we ascended through clouds to the trail head.

I must be Stockholm’d by Michigan weather because I was beyond excited to hike a snow covered mountain in freezing weather. Unfortunately this excitement was premature. I did not check out the destination out before packing and we set out woefully ill-equpped. Perhaps “woefully” is a bit dire, but snow shoes would have been nice.

The trek is really cool, you circle around Mount Tamarack, then then climb partially up Mount Houghton for the final summit of Mount Rose. We only made a partial summit of Mount Tamarack before heading back. The blue line indicates our path out, the red our path back.Mount Rose Hike with trail completed markers

The trek started off easy, but trail conditions quickly worsened. Our sandy, gently inclining path dissolved into deep snow. This retarded forward progress and obscured the trail so we decided to summit Mount Tamarack (instead of circle) to avoid the snow. We didn’t make it far before we ran into snow on the summit and decided if we were going to hike through deep snow anyways it might as well be on the official trail.

We slid down the side of the mountain until my map said the trail was right below us. Bounding down a snow covered hillside had given me a boost of energy. Miki was faring much worse. He was exhausted and his tennis shoes were soaked and his feet freezing. Not seeing anything but pristine snowbanks we decided to call it quits and began the painful, snow-filled struggle uphill to rejoin the dry part of the trail.

Near the trail head we pulled out the quadcopter for a quick test drive. I buzzed us once or twice and when I I got bored I tried the auto land feature and promptly broke a propeller off. Wamp.

We changed out of our wet clothes and drove around looking for a campsite.  Unfortunately, in California you need to pay hotel rates and book months in advance to reserve a campsite. Fortunately, Mount Rose is a wilderness area so anyone can camp anywhere. So we drove back and packed out tent and bag. We hiked up to the first ridge and pitched our tent in a tiny space between a tree and a snow drift. It was far from ideal. It was cramped, slightly sloped and had a tree root underneath but it was all we could find. As we settled into to camp, the visibility worsened, snow starting falling and the winds howled. I loved it.

Miki zipping up a tent in the Mount Rose wilderness

With the high winds it took several attempts to start fire. I had to build a wall of rocks and contort my body to block wind tunnels through the rocks to keep the wind from gusting it out. Miki was feeling cold and sick so he retired to the tent just after I got a fire going. The worst part of the wind was that it was causing the fire to blow back onto me. It would carry uncomfortably large embers off to land in trees to burn for an equally uncomfortably long time. Despite it being cold and wet, fears of a fire (and mountain lions) drove me to call it quits not long after dark. Putting out the fire also sucked. I had to scrabble down the the base of the rocks, form a large snowball with my bare hands and scrabble back up to dump it ontop of it. It took about a dozen trips and some stamping and stewing to satisfactorily put the fire down. I climbed down the rocks and into the tent.

Amy sitting next to a fire on top of a Mount Rose wilderness ridge

I didn’t have much time We didn’t remain in the tent for long. Miki was uncomfortably cold and feeling ill enough that he wanted to pack it in early. We broke camp in the cold and dark and headed down the ridge, back to the parking lot. Thirty minutes later we were on our way to Reno where we were refused by 20 hotels before we found an empty room and could finally fall asleep. Poor Miki, first time camping and his psychotic girlfriend takes him wilderness camping in the snow.

We’re not dissuaded though. We’re going back to Mount Rose better prepared to finish the hike. Miki says he’s up for camping again, but I think I’ll take him somewhere more sane this time.

Amy's face lit by the glow of the fire