Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tahoe Rim Trail: Day 6

September 6, 2011: I awoke to the sound of some birds calling a wake up alarm and thus another day began. I slept decent during the night, and was hiking by 7:00am. It was a wonderful morning.

The scenery was more spectacular the further I walked this morning. The day began with a climb up Dick's Pass. I don't tend to mind climbs as much, for some reason they seem easier on the body than descents. There was still a rather large snow field at the pass.

The weather was just perfect and I hung around for a while at the top taking in the views. To the north stretched the PCT towards Donner Pass. To the south and west, the rest of Desolation Wilderness lay before me.

While descending from Dick's Pass, I ran into an older couple hiking north. The man had a long white beard, and his female companion looked trail hardened as well. "Are you hiking the rim?" I asked. "No, we are doing the PCT." I was shocked to see anyone still hiking the PCT this far south. As it turned out, they had done the entire trail, but had a few hundred more miles left to do from Lone Pine, to somewhere in Oregon. They had "flip flopped" which is a term used for thruhikers who hike the trail out of order, usually because of treacherous snow conditions. Since it was a high snow year in the Sierra, they chose to finish this section last. Their names were Forever and Ever. Always good to have a little trail talk during the day.

The beauty of the area continued to increase and I was grateful to see it from a south bounders point of view. Perhaps I was desensitized to the natural wonders at this point on the PCT last year. Now I was seeing it with fresh eyes and I was amazed. It resembled many areas along the Muir Trail, a little ways to the south.

Below is a patch of white mountain heather, one of Muir's favorite wildflowers that I mentioned in the previous post. They always seem to grow in the special places.

The day was warming up nicely and I was making good time to reach interstate 50 at a decent hour. I was now looking forward to reaching Lake Aloha for a mid day swim. It is a popular destination for many folks in the area, but so far, I only ran into one other hiking couple from Texas.

When I reached Lake Aloha, the sunlight was intense. I didn't see anybody else around. I went for a quick swim, the water was ice cold once again and absolutely exhilarating. Better yet, no flies harassed me afterwards. I was able to rest on a warm slab of granite and dry off in the sun.

After drying off, I continued my journey south. Temperatures really began to increase at this point. Many day hikers also began making their way from the Echo Lakes trail head to Lake Aloha. I only had a few more miles before reaching the 50, and I was making excellent time.

(Lake Aloha above)

I passed one local woman who asked how my hike was coming along. She informed me that this was probably going to be the hottest week of the entire summer. Most of the people I passed the rest of the afternoon looked exhausted and overheated. I felt the same way, covering exposed skin the best I could so not to inflict further sun damage and drinking plenty of water. Eventually, I reached the Echo Lakes Trail head and was surprised to see the store still open. I thought it was closed after Labor Day, and this was Tuesday, the day after. I was thrilled nonetheless, as I was able to purchase an ice cold Gatorade and and a Klondike bar. It hit the spot on this hot, sunny day. I still had about a mile and a half to go before reaching the 50. It's a mile and half through the woods through residential neighborhoods. At last I reached the road shortly after 3:30pm.

(Echo Lakes above)

I stuck out my thumb to hitch a ride into South Lake Tahoe for my second and last resupply. South Lake Tahoe is about 15 miles down the road. I waited and waited, burning in the sun along the highway. I know I'm ugly, but come on folks! It was taking much longer than usual to get a ride this time around. Finally, a young blond dread locked girl named Kat in a beat up old car pulled over and gave me a lift to town. Thank you Kat! She drove me to the "Y" in town and I walked to the Apex Inn where I stayed last year on the PCT. Clean rooms, hiker friendly, and very reasonable rates, I was glad to be back, and relieved they had a vacancy. I was able to shower, resupply, and watch some TV while getting prepared for the last leg of the trip. Once inside, I could feel how exhausted I was...

1 comment:

  1. Great scenery. Nice pictures, too. Don't know if that means the scenery got nicer or you just started taking more pictures! Loved that gnarled tree.