Don came up from the bay for a hike, though without any specific objective. Two small winter storms had come through earlier in the week and the turning trees were rapidly losing their leaves, so I was keen to seek out some aspen groves while they were still in color. We considered doing a link up of Rubicon and Jakes Peaks, trying to take advantage of having two cars, but when we reached Emerald Bay on the way to dropping off a car in Meeks Bay, both Rubicon and Jakes were obscured by fast moving clouds and what we could see of their higher reaches looked ice encrusted. Hence we opted to do an out and back from Meeks Bay, possibly heading up Jakes if the weather permitted.

We made our way briskly up the glacial canyon which eventually forms Meeks Bay and quickly met Lake Genevieve. It was in the low 40s and a bit windy but we had good conversation to keep our minds off cold.

Lake Genevieve.

Although I’d chosen this route specifically for the purpose of seeing the turning aspen, it became apparent that there weren’t in fact any aspen, in color or otherwise, along this trail. I’d assumed that in the bottom of a canyon with so much water there would surely be some aspen. The canyon was beautiful nonetheless and the trail was easy, so neither of us much minded.

Stony Ridge Lake.

The trail climbed steeply from Stony Ridge Lake to Rubicon Lake and it came time to decide whether to attempt Jakes Peak. Although it was still very chilly and a bit windy, we had plenty of food, water, and layers and decided to strike off trail towards the summit.

Stony Ridge Lake.

The going was a bit rough at first through tight saplings and small hardwoods but the slope soon opened up and was interspersed with stretches of granite slabs. The climbing was fun and easy.

Don ascending Jakes’ west slope.

Towards the top the climbing got a bit trickier, but never more than class 2 scrambling until we finally saw the summit. I had read Bob’s trip report from when he attempted to climb Jakes Peak but had chalked up his failure to the fact that he was attempting in winter when parts of the summit were slippery. He had mentioned rock shoes and I shrugged off the idea, but now that I was looking at the summit myself I realized I may have made a mistake.

Jakes Peak “summit plateau.”

The top of the peak appeared as if cast from a single piece of granite, with wonderfully bubbly and creative shapes. Like most of the granite peaks I’ve encountered in Tahoe, this granite was composed of large (perhaps 1/4″) crystals — the sort which decomposes into kitty litter scree. This fact was welcome because it meant that our rubber soled shoes stuck to it like glue. The summit mass, however was consistently steep and devoid of any large features which meant that we’d turn our hands to pulp trying to slow our descent if we were to slip.

Don retreating from the summits.

We spent a while trying to attack the summit from various directions, but the constant threat of a horrible road rash deterred us. Moreover, we weren’t sure which of the two highpoints was the true summit, so we eventually relented. Although he is cautious with exposure, Don is an extremely competent boulderer and he could not find a route he was comfortable attempting. We did not closely examine the west side of the summit, but in my mind rock shoes at a minimum are needed to gain the summit without undue risk.

We meandered over to a highpoint east of the summit for a view of the lake and saw Emerald Point beyond to the south. We considered heading over to it but it was cold and the route would be exposed to the wind, so we soon turned back towards the trail.

South Lake Tahoe. Monument and Freel Groups beyond.

We headed back towards Meeks Bay at a moderate pace. Although we found neither the aspen nor the summit we were hoping for, it was a beautiful day and a great hike.

Rubicon Peak high above an autumn meadow.

GPS Data

Elevation Gain: 3,200 ft

Total distance: 18.32 mi
Total time: 06:35:04
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