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May 12, 2014 / JustinKays Porter

Conquering Mountains: Round Top

We hike. Justin and I both come from families of hikers: leisurely hikes, steep hikes, hikes to destinations, hikes for views, hikes, hikes, hikes. Prior to wedding planning and homeownership, we used to hike in the bay area on weekends at home or on trips to Truckee, Tahoe, Yosemite, or wherever else our wanderings took us. Now, we mostly stay home and work our tails off. I’m not complaining, don’t get me wrong, but the fact that we don’t get out to hike as much as we used to makes it even more special when we find the time.

Round Top: we're coming for you!

Round Top: we’re coming for you!

Last summer, we took a few days off work and spent a long weekend in the Sierras with my fam (more on other adventures in coming posts). After arriving at Papa’s house in Tahoe on a Friday night, we hauled ourselves out of bed early on Saturday to make the drive from south lake up to Carson Pass on Hwy 88, about 45 minutes away. After finding a parking spot, we gazed across the highway at our mountain of choice: Round Top.

View of our designation from the parking lot

View of our designation from the parking lot

For a little personal background story, my Grandma Joan used to take us up to this pass when we would come visit Tahoe in the summer. She loved the area, and would take my sisters and I in the little red jeep with our mandatory matching red bandanas, blaring the Oak Ridge Boys, for our version of a girls’ day out. The hike from Hwy 88 back to Winnemucca Lake is relatively flat (i.e., perfect for grandmas and grandkids if you bring plenty of water and candy with which to bribe said grandkids) and has the most beautiful array of Sierra wildflowers I’ve ever seen. It’s the best kind of special place. This year we were a little late for the show, but we still got some beautiful colors and another great Winnemucca wildflower memory to add to my growing collection.

Aster daisy, Indian paintbrush, lupine

Aster daisy, Indian paintbrush, lupine

This particular trip we were on a mission. We had tried to get to the summit of Round Top a few years ago, and by some freak incident happened to try this on the windiest day of the year. A big group of us (maybe 20? You know who you are…) had left south lake in our shorts and t-shirts. By the time we got halfway up the mountain from Winnemucca, it was about 40 degrees with gale force winds. And I’m not being overly dramatic: at least half of us didn’t make it to the top, and those that did were up there for about 3 minutes and came down for fear of being blown off! But I digress. We had come back to conquer Round Top.

Getting closer! The trail to Round Top

Getting closer! The trail to Round Top

As I said earlier, the hike into Winnemucca Lake is flat, past Frog Lake with the mass of Elephant’s Back keeping you company on your left. Once you get to the lake, it’s a steep, roughly one-mile hike to the top. And you can tell from the contours: both sides of Round Top are pretty steep, but the other side is crazy steep!

This is the best map I found of this hike. We didn't do the full loop here… we started at #7 (Carson Pass), headed to Winnemucca Lake (#5), then on to the summit (#4). We did some cross country to get from #5 to #4, but mostly stayed on the trail. Source: http://www.everytrail.com/guide/round-top-amp-winnemucca-lake-carson-pass

This is the best map I found of this hike. We didn’t do the full loop here… we started at #7 (Carson Pass), headed to Winnemucca Lake (#5), then on to the summit (#4). We did some cross country to get from #5 to #4, but mostly stayed on the trail. Source: http://www.everytrail.com/guide/round-top-amp-winnemucca-lake-carson-pass

On the way up. Boys like to stare off in to the distance and point at unknown objects. They like to all point at different things and pretend they are in agreement with what they are pointing at...

On the way up. Boys like to stare off in to the distance and point at unknown objects. They like to all point at different things and pretend they are in agreement with what they are pointing at…

Hiking, hiking, Kimmi is starting to get silly!

Hiking, hiking, Kimmi is starting to get silly!

Big smiles from Chels

Big smiles from Chels

Scrambling up the lichen-crusted rocks

Scrambling up the lichen-crusted rocks

But the views from the top are so gorgeous. It’s hard to describe what it’s like to get to the top of a mountain. These are my favorite types of hikes: the hard work paid off and you feel like you can see the whole world from these vantages. And it makes you feel so powerful, but so tiny and insignificant at the same time. Need a new perspective on life? Go climb a mountain.

Caples Lake, the view from Round Top

Caples Lake, the view from Round Top

Lunch on top of the world

Lunch on top of the world

Peaking over the edge

Peaking over the edge, down to Winnemucca Lake

Happiness is climbing mountains :)

Happiness is climbing mountains 🙂

More spectacular views

More spectacular views

And I also have to note: the endorphins. Yes, we tend to get a little silly up there…

There are no words...

There are no words…

One of the many faces of Matty B

One of the many faces of Matty B

There was one other family up there with us for a bit. They brought this dog. Those tiny little legs brought him up the mountain. And he went a little crazy too!

There was one other family up there with us for a bit. They brought this dog. Those tiny little legs brought him up the mountain. And he went a little crazy too!

I also feel obliged to mention that these photos have not been edited. I shot them with a polarized lens on my camera, but these colors are real. The beautiful blue sky, white and grey puffy clouds, vibrant wildflowers and lichens, every shade of green you can imagine in the trees, grasses, shrubs, flowers… so much life, and so many colors.

Frog Lake

Frog Lake

IMG_0161

Winnemucca Lake

Winnemucca Lake

We’ll go back someday, of course. How could we not? Traditions of grandmas and grandkids, family hikes, and wildflowers must be upheld! I don’t think we need to uphold the Oak Ridge Boys tradition though; that was only for Grandma Joan 🙂

He's my favorite

He’s my favorite

And, of course, the celebratory beer in the parking lot. We did it!

Woo hoo!

Woo hoo!

One Comment

Leave a Comment
  1. Faj / May 15 2014 7:45 am

    Lets do it again. Good memories!

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