round top at carson pass - sierra nevada, california

Backpacking on the only snow left – Round Top, Sierra Nevada

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We certainly didn’t expect to find any, let alone six feet of it. California is in one of the worst droughts it has ever seen, with little rain gracing us for 2015. Yet still, the rangers at Carson Pass Station warned us, there may be some left. How much? They couldn’t tell, they didn’t venture beyond where the trail went cold. We, on the other hand, wanted a bit of it.

round top, carson pass

Hiking was fine by the first two lakes, Frog and Winnemucca, but once we may our short final ascent towards Round Top Lake, the snow fields became more numerous and wider. Good thing it was packed snow, and melting fast. Only a few slips. Phew.

We got lucky our campsite wasn’t buried, or for that matter we could even find it. With hardly anyone around, I’m sure we could have snagged another, but the fact that we had several feet of dry ground was a godsend. The weather was near perfect, with some light winds and a surprisingly warm mid-60s. I’m not sure I could ask for better conditions!

Nightfall is when the real fun began. I knew a near-full moon was in the sky, but with snow on the ground, I didn’t mind so much.

round top at carson pass - sierra nevada, california
Full moon and stars at Round Top

A bright full moon in the wilderness will never get old. Being able to see clearly AND walk around like it’s daylight will continue to boggle my mind. I’ve experienced both velvety black nights and day-bright night in the outdoors, I’m beginning to think I look forward to the latter the most.

round top at carson pass - sierra nevada, california
Not many things beat an alpine sunrise

A great morning broke the next day, filled with coffee, oatmeal and nary a breeze. Something odd happens to my brain during these days in the back country. An odd peace and almost sadness, mixed with certain amounts of anxiety create a stimulating cocktail of endorphins. I return to society feeling out of place. Perhaps that’s the point, and hence why I crave the woods… What’s next? Any suggestions for great backpacking in Northern California?

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