The summer was quickly slipping away, so I decided to do a quick end-of-summer road trip with Mike and Andrew before Andrew had to go back to school. We drove up Hwy 395 through the Eastern Sierra and then up to Reno to see my parents for a few days.
Our first fun stop was at Deadmans Summit:
Deadmans used to be one of my favorite places to boulder in the Eastern Sierra, and is featured in several of my old climbing and road trip stories. Due to a combination of injuries and other things, I hadn’t climbed there in 14 or 15 years. It was so good to be back! Such a classic place.
Andrew loved it here. He really enjoyed walking around and exploring. I finally convinced him to boulder a little bit. On his second attempt, shortly after this photo was taken, he came off and landed awkwardly on the crash pad on the sloped landing, and rolled his ankle. At first I thought he might have broken it. Turns out it was a really bad sprain. He barely made it back to the car, using my large Metolious crash pad as a crutch.
What a strangely awesome place. I had wanted to go here ever since I first saw the photo of the place on the cover of John Sherman’s classic bouldering bible, Stone Crusade, so many years ago. Why did it take me so long?
I wanted to get a photo of the cover of Verm’s Stone Crusade in front of the boulders…but wait, something seemed a little off…?
“The ascent was a cruise, but turning the boulders back around afterward was tough.”
Unbelievable that these boulders are so close to the road, and I’ve driven by them probably a hundred time but never once stopped. And you can actually see them from the highway! At least from the southbound lanes. I remember looking at these two boulders while driving back from Reno a few months earlier, and thinking they might be climbable…but they look so small from the highway. Very deceiving. Can’t wait to go back and try these boulders out!
Andrew’s ankle was feeling just slightly better after an hour or two of icing, but he didn’t want to ruin the trip for us. So we decided to drive up Lundy Canyon and do a little kayaking on Lundy Lake while Andrew rested his ankle.
On the drive up Lundy Canyon, a momma deer and her two little babies ran across the road in front of us. I pulled over and managed to squeeze off this tranquil photo through the dirty windshield of my car. Then we continued on up to Lundy Lake.
I had kayaked at Lundy Lake once before, several years ago, on a solo road trip designed to knock off as many lakes and streams as possible (the final count was 17 on that trip). Went back a couple years ago with Mike and Geoff, but the DWP had drained the lake so low for dam repair that it was not kayakable.
The weather was interesting. There was a 40% chance of thunderstorms, and it looked like it might open up at any minute, so we only kayaked about 2/3rds of the way down the lake before turning around.
After we left Lundy Lake and resumed the trek up to Reno, we did hit some rain. We also saw a fair amount of smoke emanating from a fire east of Bodie. As we got closer to Reno we ran in to even more smoke, which was blowing over from the big fire burning west of Lake Tahoe. And about half an hour after we got to Reno, it was like a thick fog bank moved in–a weather system west of Lake Tahoe pushed the smoke over Reno like a blanket.
The plan was that after a couple days in Reno doing stuff with my parents we would take half a day and kayak at Echo Lakes, which are south of Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake. But if the smoke was bad in Reno, it was even worse down at Echo Lakes, much closer to the fire. So I developed a plan B.
Plan B was Donner Lake. I sent a text to my old friend Joe, who lives and works in Truckee, and asked if he was free for lunch. And then we took off to Donner Lake.
My first experience on Donner Lake was unpleasant–Mike and I went there at the peak of summer, and it was very crowded. A couple years later, I went back in the spring and had a real nice time there with Mike, Joe, and Steve. There was still some ice on the lake, and as I recall there were no other boaters. Very enjoyable.
On this, my third time paddling at Donner Lake, conditions were almost ideal. There were other kayakers out and some SUPers,
We loaded the kayaks back up and met Joe at the Truckee Airport. It was great to see Joe again, and we had a great lunch at Red Truck while watching the comings and goings of the rich folk and their private jets at the Truckee Airport. Funny…this is where the rich and famous go on vacation, but Joe is lucky enough to live here.
After lunch we followed Joe down to see his new house, then said goodbye and drove down to King’s Beach at Lake Tahoe. It was Andrew’s first time at Lake Tahoe, and unfortunately it was really smoky. We drove around the lake to Incline Village, then up through the mountains and back down to my parents house in Reno.
That evening, we got to see a fabulous light show and thunder and lightning rolled through for a couple hours. We stood outside and watched, and I was able to capture some of the strikes by shooting video with my GoPro.