10.9 miles (Miles 1094.5 – 1105.4)
Echo Lake Chalet – Gilmore Lake
Getting out of town was tricky today. We got checked out of our hotel, then battled the Tahoe-touristy traffic to the post office where we mailed some stuff home. We ate lunch, picked up G-Dub, another hiker heading to Echo Lake, then head out. We missed a turn but looped back around and finally got to the Chalet around 1pm. I didn’t mind much… more time to spend with Aloha!
I was excited to get hiking though, too. Desolation Wilderness and a familiar section of trail was coming up. We hiked up and past Echo Lake, then back down through some nice forest trails to Lake Aloha – I wish Aloha could’ve hiked in with us to his lake – but he still hasn’t gotten his sleeping bag yet. Anyway, I really enjoyed seeing Lake Aloha again. It’s a big lake spotted with small, rocky islands. Some islands are bare and some have a pine tree or two growing on them. On the other side of the lake, there are a couple of mountain peaks that slope down right into the water. It’s really beautiful. We had some gray clouds roll in, but the sun still peeked out and reflected dancing specks of bright light on the lake’s surface. Thankfully the gray clouds didn’t produce any precipitation.
Our trail for a lot of today was rocks, and some of it was pretty hard to hike on. Some of the rocks were large and smooth, but on an angle. Some were flat and shaley, shifting one way or the other with each step. Some were small and round and rolled under our feet. It was a good test of ankle strength and balance! I’m happy to say I passed that test today – my legs, ankles and core felt strong and I didn’t fall… well, I did stumble a few times, but recoveries were quick and painless. I can feel myself getting stronger almost every day, and it feels really awesome.
We had a plethora of wildflowers again, but some are starting to brown or droop. I think their peak season will be over soon – I hope we get another batch because they sure do brighten up the trail as we hike! I saw the biggest paintbrushes today! They were huge – and so vibrant!
We made our way down a side trail to Gilmore Lake. I camped here in ’09 with my mom, dad and friend Leo when we hiked the Tahoe Rim Trail. It is just as pretty – the lake is round and sits at the bottom of a bowl of mountains. We ate dinner on the shoreline as a red-headed duck swam across the glassy water looking under every once in a while for food. Then he’d dive and disappear for a few seconds, only to pop back up a short distance past where he dove. It was pure, natural entertainment. The skeeters are also back. We ate dinner in our rain coats and had our head nets out again, too. Bugger!
As the sun set over the mountains on the other side of the bowl, we were given an amazing show of sun beams. They were kind of hard to see, but they were beautiful against the blue sky and clumps of white clouds here and there.
Tonight I [still] love Desolation Wilderness. With all the lakes, trees, flowers and landscaped-by-God scenery, it certainly doesn’t feel very desolate out here. If this place could have an emotion, it would feel happy.