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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Roots, Rock, Reggae!

We pushed off from Truckee on August 30th. Today is September 5th, 3:30 in the morning, and I'm writing this sitting on a large granite boulder, looking far down onto highway 88 at Carson pass.  The occasional semi truck passes over it, the noise of it stirring up the quiet darkness.  The stars this morning are phenomenal.  This is a highway I've driven on.

Our trip in the northern Sierras started out of Donner pass and immediately climbed a beautiful ridge.

The trail was different then the last trail we set foot on in Oregon.  It was sad to be so displaced, to not gradually work our way to this fantastic scenery.  We weren't sad though, we were elated that day and the trail reminded  us of so many other places. We thought of Dinosaur, Colorado, and climbing Telescope Peak in Death Valley.

Here its dry and the sun is strong.  We made our way into the Granite Chief Wilderness.  The hills there were big and colorful.  There we met up with the Tahoe Rim Trail.  WE were up on another ridge gazing towards distant Tahoe, just relaxing for a long time in the morning sun.  Since getting to California we've had only beautiful days and only perfect weather.  Generally cool and breezy but the sun is always warm sometimes very hot! 

We don't see very many people anymore.  I think we have jumped ahead of most of the sobos and the nobos are all gone for the season.  Labor day has passed.  So its nice the people we do see we generally stop and talk to.  Even with what we skipped, it still feels like we've come far now and we're getting in really good shape.  We go up steep hills now without stopping.  Maggie's asthma is gone. We've been on the trail for over two months.

So we got up Baker Pass and could see the huge bare granite mountains of the Desolation Wilderness far in the distance. 

That night we camped at Richardson Lake and met 3 ladies who unloaded their snacks on us.  They gave us 10 cliff bars and nutella and fig bars and pay days!  Wow so nice, then we had our difficult day, walking 10 miles to Desolation.

WE eventually turned the corner out of the nicest dry forest to be confronted with Fontanellis Lake.  It was one of the lovliest lakes we've ever seen, sitting in a carved granite basin.

The water was still a little cold but the sun was hot and we got naked and swam.  WE washed ourselves well and felt completely relaxed for the next 10 miles of our day.

We then went over Dick's Pass and it was certainly one of the best views of our entire PCT trip so far. 

It was a rather grueling climb up to 9500 feet and we sat at the top for a long time looking at a few different lakes below us. 

We camped that night in a nice private spot at Gilmore Lake.

The next day we went into the heart of Desolation at Lake Aloha.  It was huge.  A huge alpine area of all pure white granite.  The basin looked like it had been scraped away by the glacier to leave this lake, speckled with islands. 

It was a great place to hang out.

That day our packs were light and we walked down to the Echo Lake resort.  Ww met a girl, Kim, on the trail and hiked back with her to her car and she gave us a ride to the post office in South Lake Tahoe.  WE got a 40$ motel room that night it was a nice treat.  We ate pizza and a huge tub of ice cream.  Getting back to the trial turned out to be easier than we thought...

In the morning we loaded our packs with food from the bargain market.  Then we walked down the street and a girl with gypsy clothes and half her head shaved asked us, "Hey, where you going?"  She looked about our age and we were promptly invited to her house, where she took us.  She lived in this beautiful cabin in the dry woods.  Her name was Greta and she was the apprentice to the acupuncturist in town.  She was a hippy witch doctor and shared with us all kinds of wonderful things.  Fruit especially, we ate like 5 pluots each and 2 nectarines and split up a gigantic watermelon.  Then the most incredible things, an elephants heart, which was like a dark red/orange plum that tasted rich and mysterious. Sweet and tangy with a blood orange flavor.  She gave us big stalks of aloe to rub on our skin.  She sat on the ground outside and while we were visiting was rubbing the aloe into the shaved side of her head.  She gave us iron supplements and B12 and elderberry syrup which was so delicious, and tea. 

After fortifying our health we went and got sandwiches, we met all her friends and her mom, and then she drove us back to the trail.  We made tons of friends in South Lake Tahoe, the same experience Maggie had the last time she was in this town.  The people here are the kind of people you become friends with instantly.    

In the morning with extremely heavy packs we hiked onward.  The trail was beautiful as ever.  We got one last glimpse of Tahoe as we crested a ridge, leaving the Tahoe Rim trail behind us.  Its been a favorite of our trip.  Then suddenly we were looking down to Carson Pass.  In January I took the scenic route home to Death Valley and drove this highway.  On that drive, right at the pass, I got out of the car and searched hard to find the PCT.  I hiked on it in the snow to a viewpoint and took a picture.  There it was, the photo I remembered, what an awesome feeling.  IT was the first place I've recognized since starting the trip.

As we crossed the highway we were given cherry tomatoes and watermelon which were perfect and we promptly finished them.  We came to camp not long after in this beautiful spot with a view.  Here we watched the sunset though our tent over the Carson Valley.  Our next stop is our beloved town of Bridgeport, getting my much needed pair of new shoes shipped there.  ITs going to be a few beautiful days though the Mokelumne Wilderness to get there, looking forward to it!


  1. So, Mike, just how do you define a "private" camping spot on the PCT?
    I heard the story from Maggie about Greta's generosity...more of that lovely trail magic that seems to find you. It's a beautiful thing.

  2. Good to see you guys making good progress. I just did a loop hike around the 3 sisters and smiled south sister. It was great. Keep on truckin'! -GoalTech

  3. "Summited" although I was smiling too!

  4. Hehe, sometimes we're camped right in view of the trail, but that not ideal! Its nice to be hidden off in the woods a ways. We are extremely particular when it comes to choosing a spot! GoalTech- congrats on doing South Sister that's something that I will someday have to do!