Pacific Crest Trail – Day 53 (31 miles)
Saying goodbye to everyone as they were packing up, I hit the trail. Initially, the trail was a continuation of last night, and I wound my way through endless small lakes, creeks and meadows.
It was fun, even if the trail was constantly under water. It seems that as the snow clears from the trail we might have some time for the soil to dry.
I then began climbing to the pass. The small lakes and meadows changed to large lakes and wide open space covered in sage brush. The sage and the crushed basalt underfoot were reminiscent of strolling through the desert.
As I climbed, my lower leg started to hurt. Could this be early signs of shin splints? A few people cautioned me of the increased injury potential coming back after a break.
I decided to get to the top of the pass, take a break and ice it. All the snow around is convenient for something.
After 15 minutes, I grabbed some more ice and started down the hill towards Carson Pass (road). Last time I went through there the managers of the visitors centre and ranger station were exceeding friendly.
Upon arriving at the highway, a stats collector asked me to fill in his user survey of the park. I was quite happy to throw the data collection out with my truthful but not very helpful responses.
I then sat down at the visitors centre. The people there offered fresh fruit and had baked some cookies last night for the Thru Hikers coming through.
I ended spending almost 2hrs there just hanging out and talking with both the managers and a few hikers who had come in behind me.
Eventually, I decided I should continue. I still wanted to walk another 15 miles today and arrive at Echo Lake to hitch into South Lake Tahoe first thing in the morning.
A short climb led to a beautiful long valley which was almost entirely one meadow. It was lovely strolling through it for a couple of hours.
At this point I realised why my shin hurt, I rolled my ankle on a log this morning. Forgetting injuries… The trail then turned up onto the ridge. On top, the trail was entirely snow covered and I went back to wandering off trail. At one point I was meant to double back behind me to take the long way down to a lower ridge. However, I continued forward. Onwards!
Arriving at a cliff I realised why the trail diverted so far. I contemplated heading back but found a shoot that would get me back on track.
Once down, the remaining few miles to Echo Lake were easy.
When I got there I realised I had nowhere private to camp, and the place had 100 cars and heaps of cabins.
I stood wondering what I should do, and if I should ask the people enjoying a BBQ if I could sleep on the deck of their cabin. They beat me to it. They yelled down if I would like to join them for dinner and beer. I eagerly agreed.
I spent the rest of the night talking to 3 guys on a weeks vacation from NYC. They even offered me a shower and a spare bed for the night.
Everything always seems to work out in the end. In this case, it could not have been better.