Ash Canyon Hike: A Real Trip!
Updated: Aug 1, 2022
This year, Thursdays have primarily been our "hill hike" days as part of our "training" for the forthcoming hiking season. Today, however, I was more inclined to put on my pajamas and curl up in bed after work. I didn't feel like walking let alone going on a hill hike. It's been a busy week for work, I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed and tired, and on top of all of that, it was overcast, rainy, snowy, windy, and cold outside. None of which are great motivators.
Some sources report that Tahoe has an average of 300 sunny days a year, while other sources report 250 days on average, but either way, it's well above the country's average of 205 days a year. That being said, when we have rare days that are overcast, my brain is like, what. is. happening. 🥴
But, I have to admit I was a little bit excited to explore a new area. My husband had recently driven parts of Ash Canyon in the Land Cruiser after a mountain bike ride and he wanted to go back and hike some of it.
Learning from previous "unplanned" hikes, I filled my small water bladder and added a protein bar to my pack. I dressed in layers and decided to wear my medium-weight winter jacket rather than my vest. And I almost didn't bring my choppers, figuring it would be a little warmer down there, but at the last minute, I grabbed them and thought if it felt warmer there, I would just leave them in the Jeep.
As it turns out, it was just as cold and windy and cloudy and snowy down there as it was up at the lake, so I was glad I brought my coat and choppers. I wore my hood most of the way, too. Sections of the trail were protected from the wind which made the hike quite enjoyable, but most of it was bitterly cold and windy, especially the higher we climbed.
"It's a beautiful day for a hike!" Something I might have proclaimed a few times. 😉
I don't know what it was about today or this trail, but I tripped on rocks no less than 30 times. Maybe it was because I was more tired than usual, but before this hike, I could probably count on one hand the number of times I've tripped while hiking, and it's certainly not as if we never hike on rocky trails. This narrow, single-track trail was mostly dirt but it was littered with small rocks and some were embedded in the soil but sticking out just enough to jump up and grab your foot as you walked past. Man, did I trip a lot. I'm thankful I was able to catch myself from falling each time.
Aside from the cold and the wind – and the incessant tripping – we were treated with slopes blooming with brightly-colored wildflowers. A stark contrast against the gloomy gray skies.
The entire area was very green, which I am guessing is mostly due to the time of year, and I bet if we go back in a couple of months, the green will have dried out and transitioned to brown. The terrain wasn't overly populated with trees, but the ones still standing all had evidence of recent fire (could have been a prescribed burn for forest management), which is probably also why the hillsides were so green.
Lupines lining the trail and here you can see the charred trees.
"Green" in the desert doesn't exactly look like "green" in the Midwest or the Pacific Northwest (or I always love seeing the lush green landscapes of Ireland), but this is most definitely green for a desert landscape. I wonder how long until it dries out for the season.
There was something about this lone tree amongst the rolling foothills that I just loved.
(And also, look at those clouds!)
All in all, it was a decent 5.6-mile hike with only 761 feet of elevation gain, but it still felt like a workout. I think the cold weather conditions made it seem a bit less enjoyable than it would have been otherwise. The bright wildflowers were beautiful and the rolling spring green landscape was endless. Although, I could do with a little less tripping. 🤣