Skirting Tahoe

Back on the trail after our resupply/Zero at South Lake Tahoe.

A few miles from the trailhead at Echo Summit, we came upon Echo Lake, a popular lake near Lake Tahoe. It’s at Echo Lake that the PCT community considers the end of the Sierra Nevada section and the beginning of the Northern California section. It’s not that we are leaving the Sierra Nevada, but the terrain is not as harsh and we will be spending a lot more time in forests.

But before we got to mile after mile of trees, we first had to traverse the Desolation Wilderness.

Aloha Lake.


Then this a few miles later.


Looking south, back at the terrain we’ve crossed over the past week.


Looking northeast, catching a glimpse of Lake Tahoe from our campsite.


Day 93 – 17 / 1,107

After yesterday’s miles, we had 50 miles to cover in the next two days, as we were meeting a friend at the I-80 rest stop at Donner Summit at mid-morning on the third day.

That meant that we put our heads down and moved.

But we still took time to appreciate the scenery.


And note that in the past week we’ve finally started finding that wonderfully soft natural toilet paper, Old Man’s Beard.  It just didn’t grow on the trees down in Yosemite and further south.


We knocked out the miles, but knew that the following day would be even longer, the longest that we had hiked so far.

Day 94 – 23 / 1,130

Another day of beating feet, our longest so far. But this day we were going to thread together a few of the ski resorts of Lake Tahoe, including one where, after I learned to link turns on skis, I learned the steeps, deeps, chutes and cliffs – Sugar Bowl.

Notice I didn’t say trees.  Those were over at Heavenly Valley.  So I was quite familiar with the scene when we heard on the radio that Sonny Bono died there.  But that’s a different time now.

So we enjoyed our views of Lake Tahoe.


Looking for the top, knowing that it’s not far thanks to the light in the trees, but knowing that it will take another 30 minutes of climbing.


Cutting through a mountain meadow.


Our last view of Lake Tahoe.


Catching a glimpse of Donner Lake.


That was a nice cap to a solid day, our longest so far.

Day 95 – 24 / 1,154

We had a purposefully short day so we could get to the I-80 rest stop on Donner Pass, where we would meet a long-time friend.  He has been following every step of the adventure and was waiting for us to get close to Reno so we could meet.

The original plan was to just have him take us into the nearby town of Truckee for a quick resupply and so we could mail out our bear canisters.

We were no longer required to carry the canisters after Sonora Pass. Most folks took that opportunity to hitch into a town and get rid of theirs. We had plenty of food at that point, so a town visit was unnecessary. Most folks acted as if a 10-ton weight had been removed from their packs after that, but at just over 2 pounds, the canister was no more burdensome than a liter of water.  As we found out during the wet week leading into Tahoe, it was a great place to store our sleep clothes and down jackets to keep them dry. Besides, it’s not like the bears and little bears (squirrels) magically disappeared after crossing Sonora Pass.

In the days from South Lake Tahoe, it became clear that I needed a new backpack. The Gossamer Gear Mariposa is a great backpack with a recommended max load of about 35 pounds.  I know that I exceeded that a few times out of necessity. With a 17lb base weight, plus 2lbs of food per day for 8 days, I would be right up on that max.  But throw in the bear canister and a couple of liters of water and the bag would be overloaded.  So it started breaking down.  I kept sewing it back together, but that would only last so long. 

Reno would be the last place for a long while where we could replace it and my shoulders wouldn’t last until that next opportunity, so we threw a wrench in our plans and made the trip into Reno instead.

I’m now carrying an Osprey Aether 70 liter backpack. It’s heavier than the Mariposa by about the same weight as the bear canister, but it can carry the extra weight needed for the longer food carries of the rest of the trail, plus the very long (30+) mile water carry at Hat Creek Rim in a couple of weeks.

Once we got the shopping and resupply done, we spent the rest of the evening catching up.

It was a great time.  Thank you, Richard!

Day 96 – 3 / 1,157

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