Day 69 - Echo Lakes - June 13

Lisa got us on the trail early. She dropped us off where Highway 50 meets a road that winds up towards the trail. The road had snow on it further up where you can't turn around, so that was as far as she could take us. We hugged her goodbye and headed up. There was a guy camped next to the road, he said he was hiking the Tahoe Rim Trail. He thinks there is a cornice on Dick's Pass, so he's going an alternate route from Aloha Lake. Great. Not promising, but, let's see what the conditions really are since we're here.

We saw Echo Summit Lodge up the road, and there were cars parked there. Must be a back way around. Hiking along the road, there were snow drifts in the side as tall as me. Mouse hugged one, saying he loves the snow. We had to be careful because there were black ice patches on the road.

Mouse says he loves the snow

We got to another road and walked that until we got to the parking lot for Echo Lake. It was mostly empty and had black ice all over. We caught the trail on the right. The lake had a thin layer of ice over it and was perfectly still, reflecting the snowy mountains above.

We hiked along the east side of Lower and Upper Echo Lakes. The trail was clear of snow, but you could see so much snow on the slope on the other side of the lake. We took a quick break at a flat rock on the side of the trail, overlooking the lake. There were cute little cabins all around the lake. This is one of those places where I would gladly return for a vacation. Live in a tiny cabin next to an lovely lake for a week, with only boat or trail access? Sign me up.

Yup, crampons

The trail climbed slightly up to Upper Echo Lake, which was still completely frozen. The trail was a stream in many places and I was glad to have my Goretex boots. We started to hit patches of snow, and 2 miles from Echo Lake the trail was mostly covered. I put on my crampons. Mouse put on his Yaktrax. Kat and Chris stuck with just their boots. I was glad to have crampons, though. There were many places where the snow was steep. The fall would not have been too far if you slipped, but far enough to hurt. There were annoying patches of dry trail where I had to decide between walking on rocks with crampons or stopping to take them off and then put them back on in 50 feet. Wearing crampons on rocks produces annoying scraping sounds and the thought that I'm ruining the points. I might need those points.

Continuing up the valley, Chris was leading. You can't follow the trail, since it's covered in 5-10 feet of snow. It was heavily wooded, so you had to weave between tree wells and that adds a lot of difficulty. We ended up off the trail to the left, down at a lake and had to climb back up. We stopped for lunch in the woods, I used my sit pad and the others did the best they could with ground cloths and thermal layers.

Then we went straight down to Aloha Lake, sooner than the trail, but it was ok. That lake was frozen over and mostly covered in snow also, so you can't tell if you're over the water or not. It was 2 in the afternoon and we were so tired. We stopped at this rock in the sun and laid out like lizards, taking a quick nap. Both Chris and Mouse were having trouble seeing with all the reflected sun off the snow. Neither had sunglasses. Kat and myself were better off, we had sunglasses. Mine were prescription, but there was something subtly different between them and my normal glasses. It made it hard for me to tell how far away something was, and it felt a little like the old 3D movies. A bit off. It was giving me a headache and making it harder for me to walk, especially downhill and on rougher ground.

We got hot in the sun, and Mouse spotted a shady rock further down the lake, so we headed that way and camped there. We figured it would be better to sleep early and wake up early when the snow is harder. The guys found a pool in the rock and decided to have a fire right next to the water and heat it up. It took the rest of the day, but they did it. We heated the rocks and then placed them in the small pool. I got a warm foot bath, with just a few ashes in it. I set up my tent on the snow, Mouse set up his tarp next to me. Chris and Kat set up on the rock. My sleeping pad was up to the task of keeping me warm and keeping the snow from melting under me. It was supposed to be around 30 degrees that night down in town. Mouse complained he was going to freeze to death. I told him he could get in my tent, but he'd have to carry it tomorrow. He didn't take me up on that offer. He's too lightweight for that.

Aloha Lake

Backcountry footbath


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