Spooner to Marlette via North Canyon Rd in Winter

A Guest Post by Paul Cain, Director of Lifepoint Expeditions

The day after Christmas 2016 in the Sierra’s above Lake Tahoe was epic. I arrived at Spooner Lake around 10:30,am with the objective to snowshoe up toward Marlette Lake, then create some fresh backcountry tracks on my way down back to my truck. Just as I thought, everyone was still sitting at home I’m guessing, hung over from their Christmas feasts from the night before. I strapped on my snowshoes and double checked my equipment. I packed fairly light.

Paul Cain – Trekking up towards Marlette Lake

My gear included my board, snowshoes, poles, helmet, First Aid Kit, sunblock, multitool, radio, Go Pro, and layers of clothing including extra socks, and gloves. I wore my new 650ml down jacket I got from Costco for $19.99 which performed just as well as a $300.00+ North Face. Of course, I packed food and water, along with my favorite coffee, and backpacking stove. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. There was 4-6″ of fresh pow from Christmas Eve, clear blue skies, no wind, and temps in the low to mid 30’s.

Tahoe Rim Trail
My gear included my board, snowshoes, poles, helmet, First Aid Kit, sunblock, multitool, radio, Go Pro, and layers of clothing including extra socks, and gloves. I wore my new 650ml down jacket I got from Costco for $19.99 which performed just as well as a $300.00+ North Face. Of course, I packed food and water, along with my favorite coffee, and backpacking stove. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. There was 4-6″ of fresh pow from Christmas Eve, clear blue skies, no wind, and temps in the low to mid 30’s.
This time of the year the Lake Tahoe area can be packed with thousands of tourist. A lot of more popular areas such as Tamarack Peak and Castle Peak lure most backcountry adventurist, leaving areas like this unknown to most. This area is camouflaged by a popular sledding hill right off of the HWY, and if people do make it to Spooner Lake, they usually end up taking the easy, flat 2.5-mile trek around the lake, completely ignoring North Canyon Rd. Some decide they want to give the road, also know as cardiac hill a try, but usually turn around at an old Trapper Shack just a half mile up. Usually, after that, the higher up you go, the less tracks you come across.
 North Canyon Rd is a steep five-mile trek from Spooner to Marlette. It begins right around 7,000′ climbing to roughly 8,200′.

  I snowshoed up for about two hours getting me just shy of Marlette Lake where I broke trail and headed straight up, crossing the Tahoe Rim Trail where I would stop to rest, eat lunch and enjoy the peace and serenity that surrounded me. After about a half hour or so I put my snowshoes on my pack, strapped into my board, turned on my Go Pro, and took off down the mountain. After a few hundred feet of fresh tracks and pure enjoyment, I merged back onto North Canyon Rd. where I’d stop for another break at the trapper shack near the bottom to hydrate.

After that, I strapped my shoes back on and made the final half mile hike back to my truck. The entire day I saw two people heading up as I was coming down, and although I didn’t see any of the local wildlife such as deer or coyotes, there was plenty of music from the various birds that habitat the area.
It’s you like the path less traveled, this is the place for you.

DCIM100GOPRO

A Guest Post by Paul Cain, Director of Lifepoint Expeditions