I wake up to more incredible views at Dick’s Pass, and after what feels like a luxuriously slow morning I start hiking at 7:15am.
The trail passes some beautiful lakes, right along the shorelines.
After the lakes comes quiet forest walking. This morning I’m feeling slow and kinda ready to be done, especially once I realize that the ski areas (with gorgeous ridge-top views) that I remember hiking through three years ago are on the PCT after it splits from the TRT. Sad face.
There are finally some views and a breeze and a tiny bit of phone signal at the top of a climb, but then the trail is on the wrong side of the hill for views, and then frustratingly it’s in the middle of a wide forested ridge where I can tell that if the everything was shifted just a quarter mile in either direction there would be amazing vistas instead of only trees and more trees.
Again, these are the complaints of a person spoiled by that Nevada side of the trail. It’s still gorgeous, an ideal temperature, free of bugs, and uncrowded. Eventually things open up again, with glimpses of Lake Tahoe. I even find the perfect rock chair under a beautiful tree.
Around Barker Pass the hillsides are covered in yellowing mules ears like on the first days out of Tahoe City—which, yes, of course they are because I’ve now walked almost the entire way around Lake Tahoe, almost back to where I started.
By late afternoon the trail is running along the side of the crest, with views of Lake Tahoe past forested hills and rapidly lengthening shadows. I realize that I’ve miscalculated on campsites: I passed up the last ridge-top sites a while back, and now all the creek-side sites perched along the slope are taken by crowds of folks who are already eating their dinners.
Even though I’ve already hiked further than I planned to, I really don’t want my last night on the TRT to be spent in a cold, damp forest right on the trail. So I keep going and eventually I’m charging up switchbacks, repeating a profanity-laden yet joyous mantra as I storm up a 500-foot climb through trees and talus, racing to beat nightfall. After a twelve-hour day and 24(!) miles I finally reach the top and find the open ridge I was hoping for. I pitch my tent in time to savor the panoramic views and the last bits of an epic sunset.
Trail company: four grouse, two fighter jets, two solo backpackers, and lots of people already camped at streamside campsites
Lesson learned: I can still do 24 mile days!
- Wednesday, August 29, 2018
- 24 miles / ~ 3,200′ ascent, 4,200′ descent
- Mile 135.4 to Mile 159.4