Destination: Echo Lake
Cumulative Miles: 1266.5
This morning we woke to copious amounts of mosquitoes who waited out the night for one sweet drop of blood from our wary bodies. We ate quickly, and packed faster, starting our day with a simple log crossing over the placid Phipps Creek. Psycho had rolled his ankle three times yesterday, and so he was moving slower today.
Once across, we began our slow steady climb up to Dicks Pass. When we reached 9000 feet, the snow began obscuring the trail. Fortunately, footprints guided us up to the pass. Unfortunately, it was hard sliding across the snow for Psycho, his ankle warm with heat and tenderness. Oddly though, we lost the trail where there was no snow. The glaciers had removed most the dirt in the area, thus leaving a trail across vast glacial polished rocks, at times difficult to follow. A quick study of the map and land guided us over the pass, dropping us into the stunning parts of the Desolation Wilderness.
While it is called "Desolation", it is far from it. Being one of the most beautiful wildernesses on the trail, if not The Most, the area was packed with section hikers, day hikers, thru-hikers, and Tahoe Rim Trail hikers. Our day was spent repeatedly passing other hikers. We ran into a few thru-hikers we had known from earlier in the trail; Fidget, Johnny Law, Missing Link, and Slim Jim.
We passed lake after isolated lake, with a thousand flickering celestial constellations painted briefly across their surface. Their rich blues and silent greens contained deep secrets, if only you could stare into them long enough. We took lunch at Aloha Lake, perhaps the Hope Diamond among the entangled nest of other diamonds, other lakes. Water cascaded off the mountains into the lakes, overflowing them until they spilled water over to the next lake.
Aloha Lake lapped gently at the shore we ate at. Its cold blue mass was interrupted by a hundred granite islands, each uniquely adorned with a single tree, a clump of trees, or one solitary flower. After lunch, we made our descent down to Echo Lake.
Missing a junction, we took a half mile detour before rejoining the PCT for the arduous descent to the lake. The granite hillside had a rough trail carved through it offering a thousand different angles, bumps, and lumps to remind Psycho of his injured ankle. It seemed every fifth step gave shooting pains up his leg, until finally he screamed at the trail and threw his trekking poles at it in frustration. Ten minutes later, the trail entered forested land which was far less rocky. One hour later, we arrived at Echo Lake and bought ourselves fabulous milk shakes.
We are camping at Berkely-Echo Youth Camp tonight, a summer camp kind enough to put up thru-hikers and feed them at a small cost. Tonight is the talent show, and someone is playing the steel drum pumping beautiful tones toward our tent cabin as the sun casts its final red-gold tones on the distant peaks. The skyline above Lake Tahoe has a rich spectrum of faded blue to burnt red on the distant silhouetted Tahoe rim. The lake itself stands as a flat blue-gray streak cradled in the surrounding hills and mountains.
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