If there is ever a “best” time to go snowshoeing, it has to be during a snowstorm. That may seem counter intuitive, but bear with me. You see, it had rained the night before I was going to depart on a whirlwind road trip to Death Valley. Along the way, my plan was to stop off at Carson Pass and do better tracing the snowshoe trails marked by the Forest Service than I had done the previous time I had been there.
By the time I got to Silver Lake along CA-88, I’d caught up with the weather and it started to snow. But by the time I got to Kirkwood and Caples Lake further to the east, I had passed through the weather and the “Kirkwood Blue Hole” greeted me as I pulled into the Meiss Meadow sno-park parking lot. But, as I put on my snowshoes, the hole unceremoniously closed and it started to snow again.
It was not easy going; a biting headwind made things particularly challenging as I climbed up toward the pass that separates the Truckee River watershed from the Consumnes River watershed. As if on cue, however, the clouds separated as I crested the pass. The snow stopped and with the clouds parting, the windswept landscape was unreal. The passing shadows cast by the fast moving clouds against the snow contrasting against the brilliant blue sky created a scene for which I was the only witness.
As I headed down, the clouds reformed and it started to snow again. I ducked into a stand of trees for some shelter and debated whether I could have stayed there for the night if only I had packed a sleeping bag. I hadn’t so it was a moot point. After shooting some videos and pictures, I headed back.
In the end, I did not get to Meiss Meadow. As it was, by the time I got back to my car, I was thoroughly exhausted, both physically and mentally. But as I started to recover myself, the biggest sense of accomplishment and joie de vivre settled over me.