Sierra City to Echo Lake

I am trying something new with my trip blogs this year. Instead of periodically trying to remember what I did each day, I am typing up each day on my phone so when I get access to a computer I just have to paste it all together and then add some pictures. So without further ado …

July 5th

Left the trailhead near Sierra City this morning at 10am and ended at Pass Creek with Sue around 4pm. Walked about 12 miles today, mostly through trees, but did have some open areas. The trail climbed a bit, but nothing to extreme and was in very good condition. Encountered a few gnats, but otherwise enjoyed the day. I did fall flat at one point, but other than a minor scrape I Survived it OK. Met 3 south bounders and 12 north bounders along with a couple of houses. Pass Creek is a nice front country camp.

July 6th

Day 2 dawned before the sun. Nature called and I had to answer, shortly before 5. There seemed to be no reason to go back to bed, so I went ahead and had breakfast, broke camp and was on the trail before 6.

The trail gained nearly 2000 feet in the first few miles, and then followed a ridge line up and down for most of the rest of the day. Much of the ridge was very scenic and there were lots and lots of flowers.

The trail is a bit crowded; I encountered 57 NB’ers and 4 SB’ers. I met 3 of the SB’ers yesterday, and all 4 of them are in camp here.

Camped at Rock Creek after a 16 mile day. It is a nice camp except for the mossies, my first of the trip. The creek has a number of deep pools, and I sat in one for a while. Somewhat breezy here at 7600 foot, so it may get cold tonight.

Overall a good day, although I was quite happy to drop at 3:15 this afternoon. Hoping to make early evenings a habit on this trip.

July 7th

It was a long night, unable to get comfortable and dealing with CBS (Cold Bottom Syndrom). Decided when I resupplied today I would shift to a sleeping bag and tent and see how that goes. So now I am setup on a shoulder off the trail, room with a view. There are no bugs here so I have opted to cowboy camp for the night. Hopefully I don’t regret that.

Up at 5 this morning and on the trail by 5:45. There continues to be some patchy snow on south slopes but nothing too bad. The worst part of the snow is that there are some really muddy areas from the melt runoff.

Not terribly scenic today, at least compared to yesterday, but it was like walking through a garden at times,  lots of flowers.

Saw over 50 hikers again today, and probably that many day hikers,  many of them with dogs. Also quite a few trail runners. I crossed I80 and Highway 40 today, both of which have trailheads and pretty country in near proximity to the roads, so I guess I should not be surprised at the number of day users.

July 8th

Lots of stars last night, and train whistles. Slept pretty well, although my air mattress has a slow leak and I had to blow it up a couple of times.

On the trail around 5:30 this morning. It started off pretty nice but I soon hit a ridge and the wind was howling over it for several miles. Was starting to get cold by the time it let up. Lots of ups and downs in today’s 15 miles. Was sure glad 15 was all I had planned for the day.

Saw over 80 hikers today, including 9 year old Boone and his mother, attempting to thru hike. Also met a group of 13 at risk teens, part of ACT. Very friendly group. Also met a trail runner, long way from anywhere.

Camped for the night at 5 Lakes creek, along with the 3 SB’ers from the past couple of nights and several other people.

The scenery today was gorgeous. The fields of Mule Ears, mixed with other flowers were amazing. The vistas were impressive as well, at least when not fighting to stay on the trail.

July 9th

A leaky air mattress can make for a long night. Hopefully I can replace it in a couple of days. But the sky finally started to lighten a bit, which is my cue to get up, eat breakfast, break camp and hit the trail, about 5:30 today.

The day started with a long climb, followed by an 8 mile ridge walk; the first 3 miles of which were exposed, windy and cold. It was beautiful though. After some more ups and downs, some scenic and some not, I rolled into Richardson Lake early afternoon and set up camp. It’s a pretty lake but very windy tonight.

Saw over a hundred people on the trail today including lots of day hikers and some hiking the Tahoe Rim Trail. Also saw a 4 ft rattlesnake slithering near the trail and a few marmots.

It was a good day, and I am still enjoying it and the body is holding up well. But after 19 miles today, much of it over 8000 foot, I was quite ready to drop my pack for the day. Tomorrow is the first trip over 9000 foot. Oh boy!

July 10th

On the trail once again at 5:30. The first few miles were not too scenic, but the miles went by quickly. And then came Dicks Pass. It was a 1500 foot climb, up to 9400 ft, the highest I have ever hiked, although that record will not stand for long.

As I started the ascent of Dicks Pass it became clear why this area is called the Desolation Wilderness. This area is not as pretty as much of the past week’s trail. But it makes up for it by being much more rugged and filled with lakes.

The trail was really crowded today with over 110 hikers headed north and nearly 20 going my direction. Some were PCT hikers, some were hiking the Tahoe Rim Trail, and others were just exploring the Desolation Wilderness.

I had been camping near a group of south bound PCT section  hikers every night so far, and wanted to break away from them. I knew they were going to Susie Lake tonight, so I planned on going to Heather Lake, a mile further. But I did not like any of those sites,  so on another couple miles to Aloha Lake. It is a mile and a half long and a quarter mile wide, filled with islands and big rocks, with very little foliage around it. I finally found a spot to camp at the far end of the lake after a 20+ mile day. Should sleep good tonight in spite of a leaky air mattress.

July 11th

Today was just a short stretch of about 8 miles, and was not expecting to be picked up until noon, so I slept in until nearly 6, then got up and hauled my breakfast stuff down to a big rock on the lake. I got there just after the sun had started to shine on the ridge across from me, reflecting into the lake. The most awe inspiring thing I have seen on the trail since Crater Lake.

Had a young man come into camp last night as I was getting ready for bed. In conversation with him I found that he was preparing to use a hammock for the first time, but all he had to keep himself warm through the night was his clothes and a blanket. Mind you, we were at 8000 feet and expecting near freezing temps. I told him he would freeze hanging in a hammock like that and got him to sleep on the ground, wearing all his clothes, my emergency thermal bivy, and wrapped up in his big blue tarp. I guess he survived the night because my bivy was by my tent and he was gone when I came back from breakfast. I had hoped to hear from him how his night had gone, but guess I’ll have to be content with knowing he lived.

Broke camp, hiked down past Echo Lake and now sit at highway 50 waiting for Sue

Ready to hit the trail
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The prettiest flower
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Mule Ears. Individually not especially attractive. But when you see hill sides covered with them they become very impressive.
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There has been some snow, but mostly patches like this.
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Cowboy camping near Donner’s Pass. Anyone else feel hungry?
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Tinker’s Knob, the highest point on the trail so far, although it was surpassed later.
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A look ahead at what is coming in a couple of days.
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Lake Tahoe as seen from the PCT
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A four foot rattlesnake heading north just off the PCT. Sure wasn’t expecting this..
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Looking south toward Dick’s Pass.
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Can you tell which way the wind generally blows?
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Aloha Lake at sunrise
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The same shot at Aloha Lake as above, just an hour later
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My camp at Aloha Lake. Mostly the same every night except for the location.
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Echo Lake. The lake in the background is the primary lake with a resort and cottages all around it. The cottages are accessible only by boat.
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