Southwest of Emerald Bay, Mt. Tallac sits in the southwestern quadrant of the Lake Tahoe basin. It is about 9.5 miles out-and-back hike on the Floating Island Trail starting at the Mt. Tallac Trailhead. There are port-a-potties there to take care of business before heading out on the long, strenuous day hike. The turn off for the trailhead is easy to miss coming from the south. The trailhead is nearly 1 mile form the highway, with a sizable parking area for about 15 cars. Be sure to fill out the Desolation Wilderness Permit located at the Trailhead. Its free, and lets the Forest Service know who is out there and how many visitors are in wilderness areas.
After a pretty windy night without much sleep I broke camp again the next morning at about 0730 to head up to Mt. Tallac. I have done this route on my birthday in January and snowshoes but only made it to the ridge line. Some parts of it I will admit or easier and snowshoes, as the rocky and uneven ground I had to walk over gives your ankles a good workout.
The three lakes that you pass along the way, Fallen Leaf, Floating island and Cathedral Lake, looked a lot different when they weren’t frozen over. The rest of the way up to the ridge to Mount Tallac was arduous, steep and loose. Met many people coming back down the hill so it gave me opportunities to stop and catch my breath and chitchat. I met one older lady of 81 years who had been doing it for the last 65 years – made me feel like a wimp -I should last that long.
When I arrived at the top and started hiking along the ridge to Mount Tallac, I glanced to the west to see the Crystal Range in the Desolation Wilderness my hiking partner Dioko and I saw several months ago. They drained Lake Aloha recently to give water to the El Dorado county due to the drought. I’m happy we still had it full when we were there.
I could get glimpses of Heather and Susie Lakes, and a sliver of Gilmore Lake from the ridge. I met a tribe of young kids coming down from Tallac, similar to the ones we met at Dick’s Pass in July. Nice to see they exchanged their Playstations for a backpack and enjoy life outdoors. We exchanged pleasantries and kept on hiking.
By now the weather was becoming thunderstorm-like and I still had at least 30-45 more minutes to the top. Being paranoid from the last T’storm I was in at Armstrong Pass, I had no desire to be in another one. I decided that it would be prudent to be a sissy and throw in the towel and live to hike another day.
All that being said, it still took me 3.5 hours to get off the mountain…that shower and a big fat juicy bacon cheeseburger was all I could think about all the way back. Turned out it was Nat’l Cheeseburger Day! I drove back close to South Lake to my great local burger joint, Burger Lounge, and got the biggest burger they had for $9.50 and took it back to my camp.
Had my shower, ate my burger and again fast asleep by 2030 that night.