I’m a planner, simple as that. My calendar books up weeks, sometimes months, in advance. I enjoy pouring over maps, imagining the side trips and peaks to bag. I Google adventures and local places to eat. Itineraries can be as fun to puzzle together as the adventure themselves. Don’t look at me like that, I know I’m not the only one that feels this way; but I’m learning an impromptu trip has potential for greatness too.
The only true direction Sunday had was east. With that, Route, Aspen, and I headed to the mountains on Highway 50 in search of an impromptu adventure. During a quick Google session the night before, I found a Sno-Park at Echo Lake. I know what you’re thinking – Googling isn’t allowed for impromptu adventures, but Sno-Park passes can’t be purchased onsite so I stand by my Google! Anyway, we stopped at Fresh Pond for some trail beers and a Sno-Park pass. The Fresh Pond Trading Post has a random selection of microbrews, good sandwiches, and fuel, but no Sno-Park passes. Eastward to Strawberry!
However, once we got to Strawberry we didn’t go in search of a pass, we got distracted by the granite cliffs of Lover’s Leap. Route has trad climbed there before and wanted to show me a potential summer adventure. We took the road just east of Strawberry Lodge into the Lincoln-log neighborhood and found a parking spot – be mindful of the no parking areas.
After a short stroll through the neighborhood, we came to the gate for Lover’s Leap Day-Use Area and Campground. The gate was still closed up for the winter, but the trail was easy enough to find south of the day-use parking lot. However, with the spring conditions, the trail was more of a creek – great practice for hot lava.
After a half mile-ish, we left the trail to explore the snowy base of Lover’s Leap. By explore, I mean a photo shoot with Aspen as she practiced her elven skills of walking on top of the snow as if she were weightless while we postholed after her.
After postholing back to the trail, I found Route eyeing the peak above us to the north, “I’ve never been up Hogsback, want to climb it?” “Aspen is part mountain goat, let’s go for it!”
Hogsback has some great beginner trad climbs, but there are also routes to scramble up. However, if your dog isn’t part mountain goat, you may want to reconsider.
On the way down we tried to pick out a less manzanita-filled route. While we were somewhat successful, looking at Google maps, there seems to be a well-worn path through the brush not 200 feet from where we started this adventure. Oh well, it was part of the challenge!
After our unplanned climb, we were ready for lunch. Finding a spot by the American River sounded delightful and dog-friendly. After Yelping through a few options for food, we decided to see if the Strawberry Station General Store had sandwiches. They did! But as I mentioned earlier, Fresh Pond Trading Post has good sandwiches, fresh made just for you. I’d recommend planning ahead – just a little.
Seven miles west of Strawberry, watch for a large pull out on the south side of Highway 50 with a Eagle Rock River Access sign. There are two picnic tables just down the hill, but follow the path to the river and you’ll find this gem of a picnic table with views of the water. Plus if the spring rains come in unexpectedly, you can take shelter in a sweet fort.
Get in the car and go!