After a few relaxing days in South Lake Tahoe, it was time to hit the trail again. My cousin David decided at the last minute to join us (me and Dad), so we will be three. David needed to stop at the grocery store and the outfitter, and we had a slight medical emergency requiring a trip to the urgent care clinic. We didn’t get to Echo Lake until after 11.
I’ve been to Desolation Wilderness many times, and often took the boat shuttle across Echo Lakes. It’s a very romantic way to enter the backcountry. With our late start, and for sentimental reasons, we took the boat taxi again. I believe this is called “blue blazing”. I need to come back and hike from Carson Pass to Echo Lake anyway, so I can always walk the two miles around the lakes then if I feel like it. (Although I have already walked it before when the boat taxi wasn’t running, so technically, if I break this thru into sections, I’ve already got it covered.)
It was incredibly crowded! Some PCT, some Tahoe Rim Trail, some “weekenders”, and a ton of day-hikers. I’ve never seen so many people in the woods!
Well, that explains the smoke I was smelling the other night. The Washington Fire.
Our original plan was to hike all the way through Desolation Valley, up over Dick’s Pass, and camp at Dick’s Lake, but it became clear pretty early we weren’t going to make it. We thought about going to Lake Gilmore, but I remember it as being kind of buggy there, so we stopped short at Suzie Lake.
Lake Aloha and the Crystal Range (Dad & I hiked up Pyramid Peak, the one on the left, once)
The next morning we were on trail by 0630 and heading up Dick’s Pass. The mosquitos were terrible near Lake Gilmore, so it looks like it was a good idea not to camp there. We were slow going up the pass but made it by 0930. Another beautiful day!
My ankle is doing fine. After much thought and consultation with the expedition medic we decided it was just hurting from rolling it on too many rocks. It happens a lot out here (or like back in the High Sierra). Not enough to cause a break or sprain, but do that several times a day for a month and you can really piss your ankle off! Anyway, the pattern all week has been that it hurts when I get up, but once I get going for a half hour or so, it warms up and feels fine for the rest of the day. Nonetheless, I’ve been careful not to roll it again.
Dick’s Peak/Lake. We climbed that one once too.
We had lunch at Fontenallis Lake, and then hiked past the Velmas, over Phipps Pass, and camped just north of the wilderness boundary for a 17 mile day. It was really cool to be in familiar country where I know the names of the lakes and (have climbed) most of the mountains. Most of this trip I have had little idea where I am or what I am looking at.
The next morning we were hiking by 6 through fields of wildflowers on another gorgeous day. I think the flowers are at their peak right now.
We hiked past Twin Peaks where the TRT separates from the PCT and then had some nice ridge walking along the crest around Ward Peak/Alpine Meadows.
We camped near the trail to Five Lakes for an 18 mile day. We might have stopped sooner but the last 8 miles of ridge walking had no water and there wasn’t anywhere to camp anyway. Dad was super tired, as you may imagine.
Our original plan was to hike from Echo to Donner, but it was too far. We decided to get off trail at Squaw Valley where I learned to ski when I was about 8 and where Dad and I have spent lots of time together. Thus, we did manage to hike together through the part of the Sierra where we have so much history together, which I think is incredibly, unbelievably cool. Not too many 71 year old fathers would do that for their son.
We got off trail at the Granite Chief trail and hiked down to Squaw Valley, which was rocky and slow. But it worked out pretty well. My friend Kathy, who is doing amazing Trail Angel duty for us arrived within minutes and we had a wonderful lunch at The Village there.
We dropped David off in Truckee to be picked up by his dad, and then took my Dad to the Reno airport so he could catch his plane to a wedding in Texas. Then Kathy took me back to her wonderful place in the woods outside Nevada City. Everything would be perfect except it’s too damn hot! It’s over 100 in the Central Valley. I guess I’d better get used to it. I don’t know what to do with my ten-degree bag. I guess it will make a good pillow for the next few weeks.