tiffany's pct journal

California Section K: Donner Summit (Truckee) to Echo Lake (South Lake Tahoe).

Days: 107 - 109.
Dates: October 18 - 20.
Trail mileage: 1499.7 - 1563.1.
Distance: 62.6 miles.

A minor note: we ended this section where we left last time, at Echo Summit, about a mile south of Echo Lake.

My journal entries for this section were mildly more entertaining than usual, so I may quote it more than usual here too.

Yahtzee and I took an Uber back to the trailhead on Highway 80 the next morning.

It wasn't an easy first day out day with a decent amount of climbing, but it didn't actually feel that bad. We spent a lot of time above the treeline, and the views were expansive.

view from the trail
No low elevations for me yet

It did get really cold, though, and the wind was nuts up there. As much as I loved the views, I was kind of glad to be at lower elevations again soon in the desert because it was becoming unbearably cold, especially at night. My journal entry for the night ends, "My fingers are frozen trying to type this."

view from the trail
You can't see it, but believe me: it was windy

I came across something called Tinker Knob, which I loved the name of. Apparently the top of it was only a tenth of a mile away, but it sounded steep and I was ready to get to lower elevations because of the cold and wind.

Tinker Knob
Turn-off for Tinker Knob

The next day was tough for multiple reasons. It was somehow even windier than the previous day. It also decided to rain; it was the first time I had seen any rain in a long time, and I hadn't pulled out my raincoat in seemingly forever. The terrain was very rocky, which slowed me down too.

At the same time, it was really beautiful because we spent a lot of the day really high up again. Even though it wasn't the most pleasant of hiking days, especially after being spoiled by perfect or near-perfect weather for weeks now, I wasn't complaining that much. Yahtzee and I tried to do more miles that day, but because it was a tougher day than we expected, we set up a little earlier.

Some ominous clouds

We were going to get back to South Lake Tahoe the next day, and I was excited to finally finish filling in the gaps of my SOBO hike. The day had so many awesome lakes. Fontanillis Lake was crazy. I realized this would likely be a SOBO's first glimpse of what the High Sierra had to offer, and it was interesting to see it at the end of my Sierra hike and see it from that perspective.

Fontanillis Lake
Just a sample of what the upcoming Sierra held for SOBOs

To get to Echo Summit and get back to town, though, I had to summit Dick's Pass. As I said in my journal, "Dick's Pass was kind of a dick." It was a tough climb! But the view from the top was nuts, and I knew all that I had left was a steady downhill to the trailhead.

Dick's Pass
From the top of Dick's Pass

Aloha Lake was even more nuts. Specifically, my journal reads, "Aloha Lake was AHHH beautiful." The lake was breathtaking with all of the large stones in the shallow, still water. I started seeing a few trail runners, but it was quiet for the most part. Walking along all of the stone paths made me feel like I was in some sort of fantasy land.

Aloha Lake
Just another place I wish I'd had the chance to camp at

After a little while, I began getting closer to Echo Lake, which meant day hikers galore. The trail was narrow, which meant my hiking did get quite slower. It was starting to cool down when I reached the Echo Summit parking lot a few miles later, and I was ready to be indoors for the night.

Echo Lake
Not pictured: the hundreds of people near the lake

I wasn't having any luck trying to get a hitch on Highway 50 right outside of the parking lot for a while because the cars driving on it were driving really fast. After some time, a biker on the highway stopped to chat with me.

I told him I was a PCT hiker trying to get back to South Lake Tahoe, and he told me he was parked in the parking lot, and he was happy to take me into town once his friend a few minutes behind him showed up. That worked just fine for me! I was glad to run into him because it was getting cold out there and I wasn't moving much while trying to hitch.

Yahtzee and I got a motel in South Lake Tahoe that night to rest up before starting to hitch down to Kennedy Meadows South the next day. I got some Indian food for dinner and was very happy, both because of the Indian food and because of the satisfaction I got from filling in my gaps. I was so glad I got to see this section of the trail -- the Desolation Wilderness was definitely not to be missed.

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