In the winter time the ranger often finds it difficult to keep the line in operation. The damp snow falling upon the wire, clings to it, freezes and keeps receiving additions until it is bigger than a man’s arm, and the weight breaks it down.
As we rode along we saw a fat porcupine, weighing full twenty-five pounds and deliberately walking up the slope near by, as if going to its den in the rocks, but, though we yelled and shouted, it scorned to notice us and indifferently went its way. A horned owl now and then hooted and bade us begone, while a badger came out from his hole, but hurried back when he saw or smelled who we were.
Now and again we caught marvelous sunset reflections on Lake Tahoe through the trees, and on the eastern mountains was a peach glow more soft and beautiful than the famous Alpen glow.
Soon the sun was gone, and then, as we rode through the’ dark aisles of the trees the stars came out and shone with dazzling splendor overhead. Just as we left the ranger’s cabin a long dark corridor of majestic trees framed in a patch of black velvet in the upper sky, and there, in the very center, shining in resplendent glory, was Venus, the evening star.
The wind began to blow a regular cyclone from the north, so the roaring of the trees told us, but we were largely sheltered, and as we looked up through the dancing and whirling tree-tops there was not a cloud in the sky.
Thus we returned to the Tavern, dramatically and gloriously bringing our delightful and easy trip to an end.
I have been rather prolix, and have entered much more fully into detail than some may deem necessary in the account of this trip, for two important reasons. It is a trip that none should fail to take, and I have made it a sort of general account, giving in broad outline what the visitor may expect of any of the peak trips in the vicinity of Tahoe Tavern. It goes without saying that, constantly, from a score or more outlook points, the eye finds its resting place upon Lake Tahoe, each view being different and more charming than the one that preceded it.
* * * * *
TO SQUAW VALLEY, GRANITE CHIEF PEAK, FIVE LAKES AND DEER PARK SPRINGS
Leaving Tahoe Tavern we cross the Truckee River and ride down on the north side. The flowing Truckee is placid and smooth, save where eager trout jump and splash. The meadows are richly green and the mountain slope on the further side is radiant with virgin tree-life in joyous exuberance. Jays are harshly calling, chipmunks are excitedly running, the pure blue of the sky over-arches all, the wine of the morning is in the air, and we are glad we are alive. A spring of pure cold water on the right, about a mile out, tempts us to a delicious morning draught.
A little further down is “Pap.” Church’s “Devil’s Playground,” “Devil’s Post,” and devil’s this, that and the other, out of which he gained considerable satisfaction while driving stage-coach between Truckee and Tahoe in the days before the railroad.