First 10-Miler in the Books for 2021
Updated: Aug 1, 2022
To get ourselves ready for the hiking season the past few months, we've been making time to walk 5+ miles several nights of the week after work. As a means of training, my husband had this brilliant idea that Thursdays would be our day to really push ourselves by climbing up Tunnel Creek Road. While the steady and unforgiving incline of this dirt trail is great for cardio, I also kind of hate it. 🙈
So far this spring, we've hiked up Tunnel Creek Road 5 times. The first few times, we only made it about 2.25 miles up until we hit the snow line. Last week was the first week we could make it through all of the remaining snow and up to the trail junction for the Marlette Flume Trail. And today, the trail was clear of snow!
After last week's trek all the way up to the junction, I vowed that I would bring water and a snack from now on. Today, I took no breaks on the 3.25-mile, 1400-foot ascent, and in 1 hour and 5 minutes, I made it to the junction. Push myself, I did. I was very happy I'd brought a protein bar (and my water pack) to enjoy.
But then, when my husband joined me at the junction, I was mentally ready to turn around and head back, except, to my surprise, he said, "Let's keep going." And he headed down the Marlette Flume Trail as I followed behind. Now, we've hiked through this junction before when we went up to Herlan Peak last fall, which was an awesome 14-mile hike on which I froze, but The Flume itself was not on our route to Herlan Peak.
The Marlette Flume is the quintessential mountain biking trail in Tahoe. I have never been on it, but my husband, being the mountain biker he is, has and knew that I would love it.
The sun was already low in the sky and the wind had picked up across the ridge. I wasn't exactly dressed for an early-season night hike, but we kept going.
And oh, the views. The views are breathtaking.
You can see the ripples across the surface of the lake from the wind.
The Marlette Flume trail is plastered with bike tracks. We were here early enough in the season and late enough in the day that we did not come across any bikers while on The Flume, so we had it all to ourselves.
The Sand Harbor "horn" is visible down below to the right.
Me: "Go stand by that rock and look out at the lake. Look natural."
Me, again: "Will you go back that way and take a photo of me on top of this rock?"
Husband: "Uh, sure. Just don't huck your meat."
Me: Looking over the edge, "I won't. At least not intentionally."
Standing on the rock. Sand Harbor is down below.
Some of the boulder walls along this trail are massive! It's hard to believe these mountain bikers zip right past them.
I'm feeling a little cold here.
Another angle of the sunset with the Sand Harbor "horns" below us.
The sun is getting ever lower, which means it's getting ever colder.
I think you can actually tell how fast I'm walking in this photo. It was chilly out, getting darker by the minute, and I wasn't wasting any time. Truth be told, I'm not a huge fan of hiking in the dark, although, it seems we are often the last ones leaving the trailhead, and it is frequently after dark. But, we also get some great sunset views as a result.
The last sunset photo I took before it got too dark.
By the time we were rounding our way past the little trail leg that leads out to "monkey rock," my husband had gotten out his phone to use the flashlight feature. We decided to take the super-steep shortcut down because I knew that stretch has hardly any rocks or debris on it and that seemed safer (not to mention faster) than the main trail.
We made it back down to the parking lot, but it was fully dark out. What started as our "normal" Thursday 6.5-mile "hill hike" turned into a 10-mile racing-the-sunset adventure. But I am glad we ventured out farther than we'd planned because the views were so awesome, don't you think?
Tunnel Creek to Marlette Flume