Darkness, Light, and Shadow
Hiking up through the the top of the gorge we hope the Northeastern flank of Peak 8905 offers some grand views. But the dense forest only grants us a few brief, obscured glimpses of the grandeur of the Tahoe Basin below.
Hurrumph! It is amazing that we see less of Lake Tahoe and its basin than the forests and rock surrounding while hiking through this section of Meiss Country Roadless Area.
There are not many grand views of the Lake & Basin between Echo Summit and Showers Lake. But no worries. The terrain and views open up at Showers Lake, while the hike up through these dense forests offers its own observational benefits.
People seek out the grand view and the sublime feelings magnificent views inspire. They are disappointed when they do not see them. I always begin getting that feeling hiking here.
But all beauty is not sublime. Sometimes the best view is not the classic overarching vista, but is delivered by the experience of hiking in a close-in maze of dense forest and close rock. Sometimes the best view does not generate sublime sensation, but plumbs the depths of your psychology rather than its heights.
The environment and the humans within encompass a wide range of experience.
Backpacking brings us though our range of experience, it puts us "though our paces," both physically and psychologically.
While the breathtaking nature of a beautiful view inspires a sublime psychological response, other terrains we backpack through will each inspire their own physical and psychological responses.
We will go high and low, long and short, hungry and full, hot and cold; everything that is possible will happen along the long trails, both physically and psychologically, if we spend enough time out there.
The full range of engaged experience reveals itself with enough time and distance.
The closed in nature of dense forest and rock South of Echo Summit almost generates a claustrophobic response to the terrain. Sometimes the beautiful view is not expansive, but the beauty is much closer in.
Backpacking the long trails is like walking along a great changing natural mirror, a magic mirror where each different part of the trail reflects and reveals different aspects hidden within our minds and bodies. The different aspects of nature will reflect different aspects of you.
Within these darker and closer pieces of terrain we are almost forced to look within ourselves to understand what we are seeing, and what what are seeing it with. This darker mirror clarifies, anchors, and gives context to the sublime vistas from the high points along the trail.
Sometimes the psychological response to engaging the terrain are a bit discomforting rather than sublime. Sometimes the best view the terrain brings us is the view inside.
Though we have now climbed out of the drainage fold, out of the gorge to the top of the mountain, and now that we are crossing much more "open" terrain, yet our views from this position along the Tahoe Rim are still almost completely obscured by the forest and terrain irregularities.
At a couple of points along the trail grand views do open up, as you can see from the pictures below, enjoyable for a brief moment before the trail plunges us back into forest and rock. Mostly forest South of peak 8905.
But don't worry too much about the lack of long views, as the forest and rock are themselves the show. It is beautiful. It is shaded, cool, and quiet, and offers the long distance backpacker soft trails, which are always welcome. And we are now losing elevation and rapidly approaching Showers Lake, where excellent views of the Lake Tahoe Basin abound, from very comfortable overlook points which are close to our awesome campsite.
In any case, we should enjoy the deep forests of the Tahoe Basin now, as we will soon be leaving them and the Tahoe Basin behind for far different terrain South of Carson Pass.