July 6, 2015
Carson Pass – Reno/Tahoe (1078.7) to Lake Aloha (1100.7)
22.0 PCT miles today
1145.2 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 3,396 ft, – 3,589 ft
All things considered, today was a great first day back out on trail. We started hiking by 7:30am, got in a whole 22 miles by 6:30, saw some beautiful sights, and for much of the day, the miles flew by. Unfortunately, my feet couldn’t hang. They hurt horribly all day and left me angry, confused, and distracted for too much of the hike. I hate even bringing it up, because if it weren’t for the foot pain, there’d be only good things to report, but that’d just be dishonest.
We started back where we left off at Carson Pass and are now officially hiking through our “backyard”. It is comforting knowing that we’ll be back many times in the years to come, so this is really more of a preview of many backpacking trips to come. We hiked mostly in contemplative silence until we got to Echo Lake and took lunch. We are now digging into our new rations and it’s exciting to try out some of the new meals and snacks that we’ve packed. Echo Lake seemed to beg us to go for a swim, but when we realized it was already 3:30 and we wanted to get in another 7 miles, we decided to move on.
There were a handful of other hikers at the Echo Chalet (where we had lunch), but none whom we knew or recognized. I think all together we must have seen about 20 other PCT hikers today, and we didn’t know a single one. Again, they all know each other, and in fact right now we’re camped rather close to a noisy group that seems to know and invite over every single hiker that walks past. Tomorrow we’ll have to attempt to be more social and actually meet a few of these guys, but today we were happy to get away from crowds and just settle back into nature.
When we left lunch, our trail (which is also currently the Tahoe Rim Trail) skirted around the northern edge of Echo Lake and gave us an interesting tour of the many homes along the shore that are only accessible by boat and trail. I can’t imagine being able to say my address is Mile 1098 of the PCT. Too cool.
My feet hurt especially bad toward the end of the day, and I found it to be especially depressing to enter Desolation Wilderness while feeling so distressed. I have looked forward to hiking in this wilderness area with Pickles for years now, and the last thing I want is for my stupid feet to impede my enjoyment. I have to say that about half of the symptoms of my foot problems manifest as acute, unrelenting pain, but the other half are the frustrating and confusing thoughts that surround a thru-hike injury. I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I honestly can’t imagine getting off trail, or not completing our hike, but I also can’t imagine being in this much pain all the way to Canada. Tonight Pickles and I came up with a game plan for the next week, so for now we’ll wait and see how the next couple days go, but after that we’re going to need to take action.
This evening we were rewarded with a campsite alongside one of the most beautiful lakes we have ever seen. Lake Aloha is this incredible high-alpine lake that is only accessible by trail and is dotted with dozens of small granite islands. Its backdrop is an imposing granite mountain and it is surrounded by pine trees, wildflowers, and meadows. It is a magnificent place and definitely one that we’ll return to soon, since tonight we’ve been too busy with camp chores and getting our beauty sleep to enjoy it as much as it deserves. I’m hoping that just sleeping in such a beautiful place will somehow convince my feet to get in the game and the days to come will be full of lakes and free of pain.