Mt. Tallac, Ridge to Dicks Pass (cross country)

23 Aug 2003 - by Oleg Zabluda

On Friday, August 22, 2003, the two of us, me, Oleg Zabluda, and my wife Marianna Dizik, drove up from SF Bay Area, and camped in Tahoe Pines Campground (6800'). We wanted to camp as high as possible to help us get used to the altitude for the next two days of hiking. Next day we hit the trail very late, at 7:30am. We started at the standard Mt. Tallac TH, near Shelly CG. We passed Floating Island Lake (nothing floated in it). We got 6 liters of water, when the trail crossed Cathedral Creek. Then we passed Cathedral Lake. We could have gotten water there instead, but it was the last convenient place.

During this ascend, the views were becoming more and more grandiose. We could see Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe from the trail, which goes mostly on a small ridge. The summit of Tallac (9735') is a talus, which was very pleasant to walk on. We were on the top of it at 11:30am.

The views from the summit are absolutely stunning. We could see Lake Tahoe upclose, Fallen Leaf Lake, Emerald Bay, Gilmore Lake, Snow Lake, Azure Lake, all of the nearby landscape, peaks, ridges, lakes and all. This overview will help us a lot when we'll be planning next trips in this area. To the north it's very pleasant solid white stone. To the South, it's mostly unpleasant small dark stones. There were patches of snow on nearby slopes. We shared the summit with no less then 50 people. There was a register on the summit.

We left the summit at 12:15 and went towards Dicks pass. An easy way is to go down on the trail to Gilmore Lake, then up to Dicks pass. This involves 1000' elevation loss, then gaining it back. Instead we decided to do what seemed more like fun (it was). We went cross country on the ridge directly West. For a while, the ridge goes parallel to the trail to Gilmore Lake, but just a bit higher. Then the trail goes down South, while the ridge continues West. Near a 100' long patch of snow, we played snowballs and waved to the people on the Tallac's summit. Then there was a peaklet (elev. 9376'), which we traversed on the South side. It was not very pleasant, because it was a moraine consisting of shoebox sized rocks. Then there was another small peaklet with roller-coaster style up-and-down surface with 2 waves. It was an easy and fun Class 3 portion.

After that, there was a meadow, which led directly to the Dicks pass. There we briefly joined Pacific Crest Trail, but when it turned sharply down to the SE, we left the trail and continued on the ridge towards Dicks peak (big mistake). Our plan was to go cross country on the ridge to Dicks peak, then on the ridge to Jacks peak, then down to Half Moon lake, then back to the parking lot.

Up until this point the hike was splendid, and the views stunning. We are completely sold on the idea of ridge hiking, because you can see on both sides from up high. However, here we hit a small unnamed peaklet, which I didn't even recognize on the map as something worth attention. However, it turned out to be a moraine, made of relatively small, basketball size, sharp rocks. We attempted to traverse it on the South size, and quickly got tired. It was getting late (3:30pm), so we gave up and went straight down to the Half moon lake. After we lost 1200' in quarter mile (45 degree slope) on very unpleasant surface (small rocks), my heels were solid blisters. My trail running shoes are completely wrong for this kind of terrain. It was 4:30pm. As we were walking back, we could see the ridge we were traveling all this time directly above us, and the Pacific Crest trail directly above us as well. We should have taken it dawn instead. We walked back to the Glen Alpine trail, and at 7:10pm we were at the Glenn Alpine TH. From there we asked another hiker to give us a lift to our car. Plan B was to hike back about 4 miles.

All in all, this was the best hike we've ever done, due to breathtaking views and the cross-coutry ridge component. It lasted 12 hours. We drank 9 liters of water. As usual, I didn't eat anything, and Marianna ate 2 power bars 170 Calories each).

Next day we were off to Freel Peak.

Oleg Zabluda (

Marianna Dizik (

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