170926 – Desolation Wilderness

Day:  156
Date:  Tuesday, 26 September 2017
Start:  Echo Summit Trailhead on Hwy 50 at Mile 1090.0, 7388 ft
Finish:  Camped by the trail near Fontanillis Lake at Mile 1108.7, 8288 ft
Daily Miles:  18.7 PCT, plus 1.0 in town
Total PCT Miles:  2429.4
Weather:  Cool and sunny
Accommodation:  Tent
     Breakfast:  Oatmeal & McDonalds Big Breakfast
     Lunch:  Gorp
     Dinner:  Rehydrated lasagne
Aches:  Cold a bit worse
Highlight:   The desolate-looking, bare rock island-dotted, Lake Aloha set against a backdrop of partially snow-covered rocky mountains was a wild and awe-inspiring landscape.
Lowlight:  None really
Pictures:  Click here

Position:  Click here.
Map:  Click here for Google Map

The day started with a mile walk to a road junction in South Lake Tahoe, where after a McDonalds breakfast, I began hitch-hiking back to the Echo Summit Trailhead around 7:30am.  After 10 minutes or so, I got a lift with a couple of hikers, and was back hiking on the PCT by 8:00am, a good start to the day.

I had arranged to meet friend Rob at Fontanillis Lake, 19 miles away, at the end of the day, and felt I should do that comfortably, given my 8:00am start.  It was another beautiful cool sunny morning, but the peace was soon interrupted by the sound of a helicopter passing overhead with a water bucket dangling below, and for the next hour the helicopter passed back and forth overhead, collecting water from Echo Lake and dropping it on a fire somewhere.  This was a sound and sight I hoped I had left behind with the Oregon wildfires, but fortunately, though I could smell smoke, the fire didn’t affect my day’s hiking.  The second ominous sound I soon heard was the roar of rushing water down a snow-melt swollen stream.  I hoped I had left the challenges of swollen streams behind back in June and the High Sierras, but the snow storm last week and subsequently warm weather was obviously having an effect on water levels.  There was a slippery wet log across the creek,  and with great care, I got across without mishap.  Hope there aren’t too many more ahead.

The trail soon passed along the edge of Echo Lake, which had a small marina, and some beautiful wood vacation cottages along the water’s edge amongst the trees.  It is obviously a well-patronised recreation area, and I could understand why.  However, civilisation was rapidly left behind as the trail climbed into the wilderness, and the rest of the day was spent on mostly rocky trails passing by alpine lakes in very rocky landscapes, and climbing over Dicks Pass  (9377 ft), one of the easier passes on the trail.

After descending from the pass, I reached Fontanillis Lake around 5:00pm and found Rob and our campsite without difficulty.  It was great to have an early finish for a change, and I enjoyed chatting with Rob as I set up camp in daylight and we both cooked and ate our dinners, before retiring to our tents at 7:00pm.

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