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Meeks Bay to Eagle Falls

Day 1 of 4

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Friday, August 20th
Meeks Bay to Crag Lake
5.0 miles
1210 vertical feet (ascent)
50 vertical feet (descent)

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GPX File

After breakfast, we checked out of our bed and breakfast and drove to Eagle Falls. We arrived at 9:50am, just minutes late for the 9:46am trolley. However, I knew we'd have to spend several minutes prepping our packs so I didn't mind the wait. By the time we'd put on our boots, sunscreen, and finalized our packs, we just walked up to the trolley stop as the southbound trolley left. If I had gotten there a few seconds earlier, I would have asked the driver where the northbound shuttle stop was. But I was too late. I looked up and down Highway 89, but couldn't see any other shuttle stop signs. I figured that the northbound trolley would just pull into the pullout next to the Eagle Falls parking lot, or pull into the parking lot itself. So we waited.

A few minutes later, the 10:46am northbound shuttle approached, its left turn signal blinking. But it didn't stop. The driver waved us off, as if telling us we were in the wrong place, but not telling us where to go. Exasperated, I decided the stop must be further up the road. We crossed the highway and walked on a little trail next to the road, up to the parking lot for Emerald Bay State Park. It's only a 5 minute walk. Finally, just above the park, we saw the trolley stop sign. Unfortunately we'd have to wait almost another hour now.

I tried to make the most of it, walking over to the viewpoint and taking in the view of Emerald Bay. We ate some snacks and watched the tourists file in and out of the full parking lot. Finally, the northbound trolley came, right on time. There were only 3 or 4 other people on it. The fare for us was only 5 dollars - 4 dollars for the two adults, and 1 dollar for one of the kids. I told the driver we were heading to Meeks Bay.

Emerald Bay

I marveled at the fact that we were taking a 13 minute bus ride between the end and start of our trail, and it would take us 4 days to actually hike the trail. The driver dropped us off at the Meeks Bay campground entrance. We crossed the road and then walked north along the road for a couple minutes before we reached the trailhead on the left.

Trailhead sign

We soon started off on the flat, hot, dusty trail. It's actually a wide dirt road that heads pretty much straight out (roughly west) into the wilderness. There are sections of forest and also some open sections with views over wildflowers to mountains to the south. It's easy to make good time on this part of the trail, but there's also not much to see. We encountered a couple of backpackers coming in the opposite direction; they'd started at Echo Lakes. We'd encounter several groups that started at that trailhead (to the south, near Highway 50).

Heading out on the trail

View looking south from the trail

After about 1.3 miles, the trail changes drastically. There's a fork off to the right, a trail that's both much narrower than the road and also starts to climb through denser forest. We took this trail as it climbed in fits and starts, briefly almost touching Meeks Creek before climbing above it. After a little more climbing we stopped to rest on some rocks. As we did so, we turned around and saw that we now had a view of Lake Tahoe to the east, through the treetops.

Looking back at a glimpse of Lake Tahoe

Back on the trail, we crossed over Meeks Creek about 3.5 miles from the trailhead. There was a partially broken log bridge here which we crossed, although we probably could have rock-hopped across since the water level was pretty low here.

Crossing Meeks Creek

After the bridge crossing, the trail climbs some more. We encountered lots of hikers and dogs on the trail. Most of the hikers were backpackers, and after crossing the bridge we ran into a large group of backpackers - probably a boy scout troop.

Looking back along the trail (roughly north)

I spent most rest breaks the first day trying to balance my pack on my trekking poles to avoid having to wrench my back putting my pack back on.

We continued to climb. As we did so, the forest thinned out and we got better and better views of the surrounding mountains. The trail then followed Meeks Creek closely before reaching Lake Genevieve, the first of several lakes we'd see on this trip. Lake Genevieve was pleasant but small. We didn't see anyone here - no day hikers or campers, and the afternoon light lent a peaceful glow to the lake.

Lake Genevieve

Lake Genevieve

Lake Genevieve

After enjoying the lake, we continued along the trail and shortly, after only about a third of a mile, we reached Crag Lake, our destination for the day. Crag Lake is about twice as big as Lake Genevieve. The trail follows the northeastern shore of the lake. We put down our packs and walked around, looking for a good campsite. Eventually we decided on a spot and set up camp. We didn't see anyone else around, but we would later see people fishing on the other side of the lake. It looked like they were camped near the southern or southwestern shore.

Crag Lake

For dinner tonight I had the MH Pro-Pak meal of beef stroganoff. It was excellent. I give high marks to the Pro-Pak meals in general. I'd say they were much better than the other meals we had this trip. After dinner, mosquitoes bothered us, so everyone else went inside the tent. I braved the mosquitoes for a little while, filtering water and taking a few moonlit pictures of the lake.

Moonlit Crag Lake

I don't think this composition works all that well, but here's an experiment I did lighting this snag with my headlamp.

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