PCT – Day 5: Echo Lake to Fontanillis Lake

July 17, 2014

16.37 miles / (1092.27 -1108.65 )

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I am up and ready to go around 8:30 this morning. The Echo Lake post office doesn’t open until 11 am, so I can take it a little slow this morning. I make a sign out of the pizza box and some duct tape and hit the road to find a hitch back up to Echo Lake.

It didn’t take long when this guy pulls into a store parking lot and calls out to me…’I just have to buy a few groceries, but I’ll take you up to the lake.’ 15 minutes later we were underway, hitting the neighborhood streets to bypass the major construction project happening on Hwy 50.

At Echo Lake Chalet the hiker trash started rolling in as we waited for the post office to open. It was a mixed bag of PCT and Tahoe Rim hikers. A few families started showing up for their weekend backpacking trips into Desolation. I got my resupply and swapped out some food, but ended up sending most of it back home. I have easily packed twice as much food as I need and feel every pound of it on my back.

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By 11:30, I was back on trail heading north. Most people took the boat ride across the lake which knocks off a few miles of hiking the shore line. I have become this fanatic about walking every inch of this trail. When I step off the trail to take a leak or take a photo, I make sure to go back to my last foot step and resume from there. The same way I felt about taking the boat across the lake…I would only be cheating myself from this hot dry 3 miles of trail…

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The day moved right along. I passed plenty of weekend hikers heading in for a long weekend and eventually caught up with a few of the Rim hikers that took the boat. Around 3:30 I was at Aloha Lake.

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A beautiful lake with tons of small granitic islands scattered throughout. I was almost to the North side of the lake when the sky opened up. Thunder and lightning, torrential rain, marble sized hail, then back to rain. The trail became a river as the flash flood passed through. I buried myself next to a clump of trees, ate a few snacks and was quickly joined by 3 older weekend hikers from Sonoma County, Bob, Ken and Becky. Bob pulled out a lightweight rain jacket from Frogg Toggs and Karen put on a rain pack cover…two items I will research for next year as additional lightweight gear to keep dry on those sudden thunderstorm deluges.     

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Once the storm passed, I got back on the move. I needed to make it to Fontanillis Lake tonight as that is where my Desolation Permit is going to allow me to camp for the night. Yep, Desolation being one of those (possible the only) wilderness area that requires a reservation for a specific area to camp. The only obstacle in my way between Lake Aloha and Fontanillis… a 3 mile / 1500’ climb up and over Dick’s Pass.

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As I am passing Susie Lakes my first thru Hiker passes me, Just Joe. A few minutes later a couple more pass, Twisted hair and Lonnie (Cheesemonger?). About a half mile later I see Just Joe sitting on a boulder at the base of the climb; shoes and socks off and eating this deliciously looking ‘Dagwood’ ham sandwich. About a half hour later Joe comes screaming up the hill passing me without a glitch in his stride. Oh the strength one has after hiking continuously for 1100 miles. On top of Dick’s Pass all four of us are standing on the ridge taking in the spectacular views. To the south I can see Elephants Back and can barely make out the area around Raymond Peaks as it was pretty hazy. To the north was just an endless view of many miles to cover. I believe this might be the highest point on the trial from here to Canada, just like Sonora Pass was the last time the trail goes above 10,000 feet elevation.

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Twisted Hair and Lonnie make camp on the ridge, Joe and I continue on down trail. It was nice to have a conversation with someone for an hour. Got some helpful tips and ideas for some changes to my set-up. I found a campsite and Joe continued on. That guy was flying down the trail, I knew I would never see him again.

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I set up camp, again a little buggy out. Still feeling good from the full pizza the night before, I climbed into my sack and just went to bed without my supper.

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