Echo Lake to Sonora Pass

July 13th

Slept in again this morning since I did not have to be at Carson Pass to get Randy until noon. But by 8am I couldn’t stand it and longer and header out, arriving at the pass a couple of hours early. So I sat outside on a bench for a couple of hours, then had lunch, resupplied, got Randy ready for the trail, and by 2pm was ready to head out.

A lot of today’s trail traversed through high mountain meadows and was very scenic. We did have to traverse a trio of snow fields, but they were not too bad.

Just before getting to camp, 3 gals passed us and took the spot we were shooting for. Looked around the area for a bit and finally loaded up with water and pushed on. Ended up a quarter mile further on, up on a knoll with quite a view.

Set up camp, got a bath in a little stream, ate dinner, visited a bit and then off to bed.

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I am continually impressed by the array of flowers along side the trail. This is perhaps the largest patch of asters I ever remember seeing.
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The campsite we wanted was nestled in some trees, with little view. But since it was taken, we moved on a bit and found a spot with quite a view.

July 14th

Today got off to a good start, but crashed in flames before it was over. We got started a bit late, but the first few hours were very scenic, traveling up high and in the open.

But about 3 hours into the day we descended into a labyrinth of rock and trees. It was confusing with all the up, down and around and we did lose the trail briefly once.

Then it got hot. At 1:30 it was 85 and I am sure it got a bit hotter. I melted. Finally, at 2pm, with our goal still 5.5 miles away, we called it quits. I stripped off by shoes, socks and pants and set down in a cool creek for 10-15 minutes with a wet bandana over my head. Felt much better afterwards, but we decided enough was enough, moved a few hundred yards further down the trail, set up camp, took naps, did a few chores, and were lazy.

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Even when there are no flowers to brighten up the landscape, the lichen will sometimes take up the slack; both read and yellow varieties.
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Rabbit, shuffling along the trail.

July 15th

In an attempt to beat the heat of the day, we were up at 4 and on the trail shortly after 5. While it got warm today, it never did become as debilitating as yesterday.

There were several longish climbs today, but nothing too severe. The views were pretty spectacular as well as the big alpine meadows.

We met Sue at Ebbets Pass to resupply, quaffed down some sodas and oreos and then back on the trail for the last 4 miles. The last 2 of that was a pretty steady climb, and I did surprisingly well.

Camped tonight on a bluff overlooking Nobel Lake. I am cowboy camped but may regret it by morning because of the winds and the bugs.

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The ruggedness of some of the high country is amazing.
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There are a number of trees along the way that look like they should audition for a part is a scary movie.
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Just another ho hum picture of the next mountain to climb.

July 16th

We were a little later this morning getting started, not leaving camp until a bit after 6. The trail climbed high to a pass above the lake, descended into the valley on the other side and then climbed high up onto the next ridge, crossed it and then traversed along it side for a few miles. Then it was and endless succession of ups and downs before we finally got to camp, exhausted.

The country continues to be beautiful, the bugs tolerable and the hiking challenging. But it continues to be good. The only mar’s on the day were some off trail issues I wrestled with throughout much of the day, and Randy’s total exhaustion. This is much more challenging than he had thought possible.

Camped tonight next to a tiny creek with a dozen other people. Fortunately we were here first and had our pick of spots. I found a deep pool surrounded by big rocks and was able to clean up tonight.

Tomorrow is Sonora Pass, over 10,000 foot tall. Hope we are up for the challenge.

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Nobel Lake. We spent a windy night atop the low ridge to the top and right of the ridge.
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It appears like all the granite around this peak and crumbled and rolled away, leaving the core of the peak, which is turn was being broken apart by freezing water.

July 17th

Since we only have an 11 mile day ahead of us, and a 4pm pickup scheduled, we slept in a bit and didn’t leave until about 8:30. I think Randy really needed the extra sleep, and extra food he ate last night. He seemed much better this morning.

The trail started with a 500 foot descent, followed by a 2300 foot ascent, ending with a drop of about 600 foot to the highway. While no part of the trail was particularly challenging, I continue to have challenges with getting enough oxygen at high altitudes, and today was the highest yet at about 10,500 foot. What makes it even worse is that my water bottle has a filter built into it, and I have to suck water through it. Walking and drinking at 10,000 foot leaves me gasping.

The views from atop the pass were amazing, the high meadow flowers were gorgeous, the bugs were few and the few snow patches were manageable with care.  If I could just figure out how to get more air up there, all would be good.

Met Sue at Sonora Pass at 4pm and headed down to a wide spot in the road called Walker for a zero day. Will head back up on the 19th.

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These little plants grow completely underground except when it is time to blossom and reproduce. Generally there is just a random plant or two sticking up above ground. This was an unusually large clump,
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The view from the top of the pass. Is this what is awaiting us? Don’t know, but I am sure it is similar.
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Erosion sure leaves some strange shapes behind.
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One of the dicier stretches of snow to cross. You have to first scramble 6 ft up the side of the mountain and then follow the footsteps back to the trail.
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On the final ascent there were several sections of the trail like this. Some wonderful trail crew has taken the time and effort into paving the trail. Much nicer than the muddy sections where snow melt is creating a bog.
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