I am so excited that I got my first girls’ backpacking trip in this summer! Several summers ago my friends, Lisa and Jenn, became my wilderness soul sisters. We backpacked together four times that summer (Desolation Wilderness, Grouse Ridge, Bear Lake, and Star Lake) and haven’t done it since. We made a point to get out the other weekend to somewhere new and beautiful, Loch Leven Lakes.

There are two different ways (that I know of) to get to the lakes. The first, is a more commonly traveled trail off of I-80 near Truckee. This route is about 3.6 miles with 1,600+ feet of elevation gain to the first lake, Lower Loch Leven. We took the alternate route through Salmon Lake, which is definitely the more moderate route. It is about the same distance as the first route (3.5 miles) but only about 600 feet of elevation gain. To get there you have to be willing to drive about 6 miles on a dirt road, but it is nothing that a Subaru couldn’t handle.

To get to the Salmon Lake Trail from Tahoe take the Yuba Gap exit on I-80. Go left at the exit (over the interstate) and when you see the fork in the road after about a quarter mile, go right toward Lodgepole campground on Lake Valley Road. After another mile (the first big gravel road, just watch your mileage), turn left, this is not marked but has recently been reworked. The road splits at one point and you will want to stay left. There is a tree spray painted with 19, for forest service road 19 at this point. Drive four miles and then take another left on forest service road 38. After 1.5 miles you will reach Huysink Lake and continue on the road for another .5 miles to the trailhead. You will see big pullout for about 6-8 cars on the left and a trail that goes through the trees with a small wooden sign nailed on a tree right before the pullout.

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One of the first meadows you will get to, full of wildflowers.

Once you are on the trail you’ll go through a couple of beautiful meadows full of wildflowers (we were there in late July on a giant snow year). Here is where you will start ascending. After about 1.25 miles, you’ll pass a pretty little lake and then go up again over some boulders and granite. After this, you’ll reach Salmon Lake in another 1.25 miles. After seeing the lake from above, follow the trail down to the lake and then take a slight left away from the lake (there was a homemade trail sign made out of a plastic bag). From here, it is a mellow mile to Lower Loch Leven. We made a right at this point and headed toward Middle Loch Leven.

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Lower Loch Level from the trail.

Our original mission was to make it to High Loch Leven, but after walking around the back of Middle Loch Leven, where we thought the trail was, we ended up losing it. We hiked around and up a canyon for a while trying to find it, but never did. At this point, we had been on our feet for several hours with heavy packs (it was the floatie’s and booze’s fault, the bare necessities) that we decided to find the most perfect spot at Middle Loch Leven.

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Trying to get to Upper Loch Leven and lost…

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Calling it and going back to Middle Loch Leven.

This is the biggest lake of the three, with lots of picturesque islands, so I was okay with that. We picked a spot on the backside that was beautiful. We didn’t have any neighbors and the only people we could see were the two other groups on the other side of the lake.

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Sunrise on Middle Loch Leven, magic.

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These are the makings of great memories.

When we were there we were allowed to have fires with a permit, so we had a small one each night. Along with that we floated in the pristine lake, rocked in our hammocks, and drank Fireball and box wine, duh. We had a great two nights and then hiked out on Friday morning. There were a couple of groups coming in. If you are planning on coming in a weekend, my advice would be to get there early.

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Wine and floaties, go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Have you ever been to Loch Leven Lakes? What trail was your favorite and why? Leave a comment below!

 

 

 

Summertime in the Sierras is in full-swing and I was so happy to get a camping trip in this past weekend. Because of other commitments on the weekends and a snowpack that is still monstrous at high elevations, this was our first camping trip in the mountains this year. Either way, it felt good to get back in the woods for a few nights, cook over an open fire, and swim in a cold mountain lake.

Our choice this past weekend was Gold Lake, located off of Gold Lake Highway in Plumas National Forest. The lake is one of dozens of lakes in the Lakes Basin Recreation Area. A couple of summers ago when we hiked the nearby Sierra Buttes, you could see all the lakes in the area from the peak. It is definitely a beautiful sight.

A couple of our friends told us about Gold Lake when we hiked the Buttes and we have been wanting to get out there. Luckily they were able to join us this year and recommended they head out on Thursday afternoon to secure a spot. Both Brian and I had to work on Friday and headed out after work to meet them. We were so grateful they got out a day early. Had we tried to come in Friday afternoon, there wouldn’t have been any sites left.

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Gold Lake looking like glass in the morning.

The Gold Lake 4×4 campground is located on the West end of the lake. There are about 15 sites and no facilities (yes, bring a shovel for squatting in the woods). It is also first come, first serve, with no options for reservations. To get to the campground, you’ll turn off of Gold Lake Highway at the sign for the Gold Lake Boat Ramp. At the boat ramp, hang a left and you’ll see the 4×4 trail. From here, it is a slooooow and rocky 1 1/2 miles to the campsites. One word of warning, this is a true 4×4 trail. Please, don’t try this with your Subaru Forrester. If you do, let me know if your Subi survived to tell the tale. If you still want to checkout Gold Lake but don’t have the right vehicle for the 4×4 trail, there is also the main campground on the Southeast side of the lake, or a nice lodge with real beds, if that is your thing.

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Our campsite for the weekend, #7.

We arrived at the campground at about 7:30 on Friday night, set-up, and put our pre-made hobo pockets in the fire. If you’ve never made a hobo, load up a piece of foil with whatever meat, veggies, seasoning, cheese, or whatever, then wrap that a few more times with even more foil. Put the packet in some hot coals, flip it occasionally, and wait for about an hour for everything to be done and delicious. It is the best way to cook dinner on the first night when you don’t get there till a little later in the day.

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Peach and berry cobbler for breakfast.

The next day, we woke up, made an awesome berry and peach cobbler (recipe coming soon!), and spent the day swimming, paddling, and just relaxing around the campsite. To top it off, dinner was a campfire stew that we tried for the first time when we camped in Dillon Beach (another recipe coming soon!).

Our time went by too fast, as it always does, and here it is Monday. Till the next adventure—in a couple of short days when I’ll head out with some girlfriends. Leave a comment below if you have ever been to the Gold Lake 4×4 and what your favorite part of your trip was.

 

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Someone wants to try and paddle… the other, not so much.

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Nothing like quality hammock time.

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You dirty dog, you.

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Sometimes I think he is half otter.

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Paddle, swim, relax, repeat.

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This is a precious kind of love.


 

The first five days of my June 100 Mile Challenge have come to a close. I’ve gotten a pretty good start on my mileage and put in 13.15 miles in the first 5 days – only 80 some-odd miles to go in 25 days! Below is a recap of what the first few days looked like:

  • Thursday (6/1) – 5.58 miles on the elliptical
  • Friday (6/2) – 3.09 mile run by the Lake
  • Saturday (6/3) – 1.42 mile hike in Galena Forest
  • Sunday (6/4) – no miles; just gardening and lots of house chores
  • Monday (6/5) – 3.06 mile run by the Lake
  • TOTAL MILES @ 6/5 – 13.15

It has been so nice to be outside in Tahoe lately. Spring (summer?) is finally here and the weather has been perfect the past few days. If you’re anything like me, when the weather gets warm, one of my go-to things to eat for lunch on a weekday is a big salad with whatever leftover protein I have in the fridge from the night before.

This salad is one of my favorites! It is probably because flank steak happens to be my preferred cut of meat. I don’t know if it is because it is super versatile (think steak tacos, steak and eggs, flank steak pinwheels) or if I have fond memories of my dad making this on weeknights as a little girl marinated in teriyaki sauce. Yummmm! Whatever it is, this salad is super filling and is the perfect way to use leftover steak, no matter what your cut of choice might be. So take that leftover steak from your BBQ this weekend, and make salads for lunch all week.

Flank Steak Salad with Chimichurri Dressing

Chimichurri Dressing

  • 1 cup packed cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup packed flat parsley leaves
  • 2 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small shallot (or 1/2 of a large one)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup of oil, divided (avocado or light olive oil work great for this)
  1. Put everything except the oil in your blender or food processor, add 1/4 cup of the oil. Pulse until it starts to get chopped up, but not too fine.
  2. Slowly pour the remaining 3/4 cup of oil (like really slow, patience is key here!) into the pour spout while the blender or food processor is on.
  3. The oil will emulsify and create a wonderful aioli/dressing.
  4. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed.
  5. Make your salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, red onions, avocado, leftover sweet potato fries, steak, and of course, your chimi!

When I graduated with my MBA this time last year, I told myself that I was going to get back to one simple thing that helps make me feel whole–running. Well, a year has passed and I haven’t run more than a few days in each week…and there have been lots of weeks when I didn’t run at all. We can all relate to the excuses of work, life, weather, etc., but the fact is, if you really want it, just do it.

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In my last post, I wrote about finding a little gem of a beach when we were driving home from Tomales Bay, CA a little over a month ago. This past weekend was Memorial Day and we decided to make a trip back to the coast to explore here some more. The little town of Dillon Beach, CA is located at the mouth of Tomales Bay on the Sonoma Coast. Without traffic, it is almost exactly a four hour drive from Lake Tahoe. We packed up and left on Saturday morning and were at the campground by mid-day.

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Looking outside on a gloomy Tahoe afternoon in April, all I can think about is the beautiful adventure we were lucky enough to go on this weekend. I didn’t know anything about where we were about to go. Only that my parents were there for the first time in September and fell in love with this quaint little area on the California coast. They loved it so much that they wanted to share it with us this weekend (thanks Mom and Dad!), so we packed our bags for a four hour road trip to Nick’s Cove, located in Tomales Bay, CA.

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Yesterday was our oldest fur baby’s 13th birthday. Yep. 13. I guess there is something about the fresh Lake Tahoe air and fetching tennis balls in the ice cold, crystal clear water. We would have loved to take the old dude for a dip in the Lake, but it was a pretty miserable day with rain and snow showers. Side bar, Mother Nature, did you get the message that it is supposed to be Spring??!?

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Paleo Shepherd’s Pie

I am so glad this week is finally over. I have been hanging on by a thread, just trying to make it to the weekend, without whatever crud I have in my head turning into a full blown cold. This weekend is going to consist of nothing but naps, movies, and some delicious shepherd’s pie. Oh, and snow. Did I forget to mention snow?

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Happy Valentine’s Day all you sweet people! Whether you are in a relationship, single, or undecided (???), this ooey gooey Hallmark holiday is great reminder that we need to spread love every. single. day. Walking around full of hate and victim thinking does nothing good for anyone. Nothing. Let today be a reminder that love heals all things, and it is absolutely free to give to someone else!

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Doggie Cupcakes!

It was our youngest fur baby’s birthday over the weekend. Well, we don’t really know when his official date of birth is since he was a rescue, but Friday was close enough and we made sure that we celebrated this big ball of love’s special day. I have never met a dog like Wez and he stole my heart from the day his dad introduced me to him. Well played, Brian, well played. Wez is some sort of Aussie Shepherd mix and a constant source of laughter. When he isn’t on squirrel guard, he is in your face or lap, trying to get as much attention and love that he can. He is the most loyal dog I have ever met and I am so happy that I get to share a part of my life with him.

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Feather Falls Hike

I love being surprised. Or maybe should I say, I love being pleasantly surprised because bad surprises are dumb. This weekend was definitely a pleasant surprise when I got to adventure in a new area that I really knew nothing about. I’ve lived 3 hours away from Feather Falls, CA almost my entire life, but I have never explored here. Maybe it is because it is off the beaten path, or maybe it is because I thought all of Central California was the same—nothing but rolling brown hills and lots of cows. I’m glad to squash this preconception. Feather Falls and the surrounding areas are full of lush green forests, crystal clear mountain streams, and some amazing trails.

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It finally happened. For the past two months, I have been dodging the crud like Superman dodges kryptonite. Then Saturday morning I woke up with that feeling. My throat was sore and I had a headache that could disable even the mightiest ninja. I was sick.

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The first week of 2017 is coming to a close and I still haven’t gotten used to writing 2017 on stuff. It is still 2016 in my proverbial book, or on my checks, or on my letters, or on everything else that I have to sign. I’m sure I’ll get with the program… just in time for 2018 to roll around.

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New Year’s Reso…What?

It’s that time of year. The time of year where everyone is talking about what grandiose resolutions they are going to make in the coming year. Personally, I have never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions. Maybe it is because they are often forgotten about by February, or maybe it is because if I break them, I feel like the whole year is shot. Case-in-point: I had a resolution to run five days a week, well, in the third week of January I didn’t, so I might as well blow that off for the rest of the entire year. FML.

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One day late last week, my man and I were sitting around drinking a beer or two after work and we decided that we needed to go camping. The next day. We started gathering our gear and making a shopping list, and the next afternoon, we were ready to leave after work. Thank you drunk-self for deciding on such an awesome and spontaneous adventure!

A few weeks prior we had done some off-roading in the Jeep and discovered the most beautiful lake, White Rock Lake. This lake is located in the Tahoe National Forest off of Highway 89. Disclaimer: this is not a destination that I would recommend for a regular passenger car. You will probably get stuck or high-centered and your weekend is surely to be ruined. You could probably get here in a Subaru Outback, but I am not going to endorse that. You’ll have to make that call yourself, but there is something that makes the adventure all the more fun when you add a little challenge to it. Right?

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A little over a year ago I saw an amazing picture on Instagram-a pristine Alpine lake scattered with little granite islands that had pine trees adorned on top of each. The backdrop was a towering granite mountain and beautiful blue sky that Sierra Nevada is known so well for. One of the tags under the picture was #desolationwilderness, but I wanted to know where. I had to go here. After asking the photographer, he simply replied back with, “I’ll give you a hint. It is a Scooby Doo character.” I did my diligent Google research and put two and two together. It was one of the Velma Lakes.

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I’m back! Like literally, back. Well okay, I have been for about two months now, but there has been so much going on, I have been neglecting this little blog of mine. That is going to end right here, right now. I miss documenting all of my adventures on the trails and in the kitchen, and plan on doing more of that now that things have settled down.

This entire year has been a little bit of a whirlwind for me. First of all, I wrapped up my MBA and can officially put initials after my name. Woohoo! Secondly, I bought a house! Like a real adult! It has been a dream of mine as a child to own a tiny chunk of land in Lake Tahoe and I did that a couple of months ago, with a cute house on it to boot! Lastly, I explored Switzerland for three weeks in June as part of my last MBA class. What an awesome experience and a great way to end my MBA. I promise it wasn’t all hiking and yodeling in the Alps. We really did do some school work learning about leadership in different cultures while we were there, buuuuuut, we also did do some awesome backpacking in the Alps for a week, which is what this post is all about.

The Trans Swiss Trail consists of 488 kilometers (or 303 miles) and 32 stages, spanning the entire length of Switzerland. How cool is that? You can literally hike across Switzerland in 32 days. We didn’t do the entire trail (obviously), but we did stages 21 to 27, with a slight detour, for a total of roughly 79 miles and countless elevation gains and losses. Did you know the Alps are NOT flat? Anywhere. Up and down and up and up and up and up. The area we were in is Andermatt and the trail travels over the Gotthard Pass.

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The past few weeks have been some of the busiest of my entire life. Between work and getting ready to graduate with my Master’s degree in May, I was starting to feel pretty burned out. When this past weekend came around and it was time for a road trip with my favorite person, it could not have been at a more perfect time. And what better way to rejuvenate the soul than with sand, sun, and the sea??

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The last time I was in Fort Bragg was when I was a little girl. It is an easy 5 ½ hour drive from Lake Tahoe and now I am wondering why I haven’t explored there more. We got out of town around 8:30 and the wildflowers and green hillsides of California made for a beautiful drive the entire way. As we started to get closer to the coast and entered the Jackson State Forest, the landscape turned to second growth redwoods that are absolutely breathtaking.

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I hope you have been having an awesome winter! In Tahoe, the winter started out great, with December and January dumping some amazing powder all over our mountains. I love it when the same trails you hike in the summer turn into a frosty winter playground. I have definitely been taking advantage of it and trying to get in my riding time as much as I can.

When it comes to riding, you might say that I am more old school. This is my 20th season riding (where did the time go?) and growing up, I have NEVER worn a helmet on the slopes. It just wasn’t something that we did as kids and when helmets started to grow in popularity over the past few years, I never adopted the new thinking that one might actually just save your life. In fact, I have been pretty anti-helmet whenever someone suggests that I wear one.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, there wasn’t any snow and me and the guy decided to go play a round of golf in the valley. Being that we are a wee bit on the competitive side, we decided we needed a bet. If I won, he had to shave his baby (aka his one-year-old beard). If he won, I had to buy a brain bucket and wear it every time I ride. For some reason, he doesn’t like the idea of having to teach me the alphabet all over again.

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Do you notice anything different? No. That’s okay. I’ll tell you anyways… new year, new blog name!

When I first started this little blog over a year ago, I had two main purposes: complete a project for my MBA class and share my passion for running and, well, eating. That’s when the site runningprimal.com was born. It was a combination of running stories and adventures in the kitchen cooking healthy, paleo recipes to keep me going.

Over the course of the following year, this little way to share some of my passions turned into so much more. I spent the summer backpacking and hiking to the tallest peaks in the area, and continued to blog about it along the way (even in the absence of a professor assigning me blog posts for homework). This silly blog became an outlet to reflect on the adventures I’ve had, share them with family and friends, and hopefully inspire some others along the way.

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