Between Quartz-Rich Granite Rock and a Hard Place
Beginning Elevation = 7,000
Ending Elevation = 7,800
Elevation Range = 6,950 – 9,350
Weather:. Sunny and clear, high 70°F
Cheer and I left at 7:05am. The mornings walk would reveal itself to be quite pleasant…a nice cool temperature, a gradually graded path, increasingly more interesting surroundings, and absolutely no wind. I felt pretty in tune with what I was doing. “In the moment,” is the phrase I suppose. Rather then having my brain switch back and forth between the various random thoughts and what I was seeing, I felt like I was keeping it simple, just taking in my surroundings not just by seeing, but trying to smell the pine forest and occasionally stop and put my hand against the rough bark. Pretty zen right?
We quickly completed the nearly four mile hike to Richardson Lake and stopped for a break there.
We’d seen a few other hikers already today, and throughout the day would see increasingly more. The PCT connects with wat is called the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) here. From my understanding after chatting with folks, the TRT is around 170 miles and meanders in a loop around the giant lake it’s named after.
Around 11:00am, Cheer and I stopped for a short break to rest on an uphill section. There were some very nice logs on which to sit. It was there that she got the news from Calzone that yesterday she’d only made it 5 miles prior to setting up her tent again and that today she wasn’t feeling much better. Dizziness was added to her symptoms as well which got us worried. We wondered could it have been a bad experience with some water she drank or cooked with? Or elevation sickness related?
My first thought bas to go back, but when I looked wed gotten something like 25 miles ahead at that point already. Luckily, Calzone had found a side trail very near to her leading out at the Squaw Valley Ski Area. Her plan was to go there and hitch into South Lake Tahoe where we’d be the next day. After she rested up a night in a hotel, we could reconnect.
On top of that unfortunate news, at this same rest point, we got a text back from Snickers telling that he was off trail. He’d made it to the Canadian border the same evening as when we’d gotten there around noon actually…
And then gone back down to California like us, but at the southern part where we’d bailed out of Taboose Pass. He told us he’d made it through hiking the highest/most beautiful parts of the PCT (Bishop Pass to Mammoth Lakes), through strong winds and hail, but ultimately got sick with something like food poisoning. Ugh, so sad to have that happen. It left him drained of all energy and so he made the decision to go back to Manhattan and return to finish another year. So happy he was safe. But very sad too that we werent going to have the reunion we’d hoped for on trail, triumphantly crossing as he headed north to finish and we headed south to do the same.
What else could we do but trudge on? It would be a strange day taking in all the feelings, but also finding ourselves in some of the most beautiful scenery of Northern California yet. We entered into the aptly named Desolation Wilderness, which really got us feeling that we were now truly back in the massive bare rock outcrops of the Sierra Nevada. It was a bit of a transition getting to that point though. Throughout the morning stretch, we started seeing more and more rock and less trees.
We also came across this spiral…a zen garden? Sun dial? A message from aliens visiting the Sierra?
Cheer and I hiked near each other pretty much the whole day. We stopped for lunch on a rounded boulder at the edge of the stunning Middle Velma Lake. The water was clear, the sun was out, and we were hot from hiking uphill. Thus, a jump in the lake was in order we thought. The water was freezing! Certainly up there in the list of coldest water I’ve been swimming in on trail. Even so, I made it out to the nearest rock island (there were several islands within this lake) where I found a deep spot to jump in off a tall boulder.
After hanging with Velma we continued on our way up to Dicks Pass. We passed by some more gorgeous lakes on our way. Such as Fontanillis Lake…
And Dicks Lake…
The last 2 miles up to the 9,377 feet elevation Dicks Pass were pretty steep switchbacks. We were rewarded with a view looking down on all the lakes we’d just passed though…
It was just as amazing looking the other direction, through to the other side of the pass as well…
At least some of the lakes in the photo above would be ones we’d pass by during the rest of the day and tomorrow. We headed down the rest of the day. Here’s one more overlook looking back at where we’d come from…
And here’s some gnarly trees along the walk down to Susie Lake where we camped….
We’d originally intended on going further, but due to the slow going with all the beautiful lakes and swimming and such, we opted to stop short while still having daylight to set up in.
Cheer and I continued our new routine of eating in the dark followed by some star gazing. We did hear from Calzone too that she had made it down off the trail and via a series of 3 hitches, made it to a hotel, and was feeling better! So thankful to get that news!