- As long as the scary sounds don’t come in the tent…everything will be fine.
- You can get used to icy cold water bathing.
- Going up a size and a half in shoe size would have been a better idea, for both of us.
We packed up early, so as not to get intercepted by other hikers or worse yet a “letter of the law” Ranger (we were more “spirit of the law” people…with the exception of a few violations like DUI and littering cigarette butts, to name a few). My feet were so swollen that I could barely wrestle them into my shoes. It appears that a one size bigger was just not big enough. Paul was having a similar problem, but his feet didn’t look so block-ish. Mine on the other hand resembled a foot long 4×4. Now try and maneuver that into a mid-cut hiking shoe. Once we got walking…and the ibuprofen kicked in, it was all good. Today was a “Beauty and the Beast” kind of day.
The trail tread was the Beast and was brutal on our feet. The first half of the day was like walking on the jagged rubble that lines train tracks.
For our eyes and frankly our souls, the day was breath-taking and never lacked for Beauty.
I have never seen such pristine lakes under such brilliant blue skies, and vibrant vegetation. If we weren’t on a timeline, we would have moved even slower through this remarkable tapestry of nature.
We did however, lunch and bathe in a side “pond” of Lake Susie to the odd looks of a few passers-by. They were probably thinking, how’d those fat old farts get here…before us? Today was a big climb over Dicks Pass (aptly named, as it was a series of seemingly never ending switch-backs). Before we reached the pass, we had heard the bass sound of the mountain grouse. Paul had spied its location and we attempted to corral it near a tree so I could get a good picture.
We were so successful that that bird (which is about the size of a chicken) was lucky we didn’t see him two nights ago, otherwise we would have bonked him on the head and eaten him for dinner! (Thinking back on it now, we probably looked pretty comical, something out of a Three’s Stooges sketch chasing that bird through and around the trees.) The views from Dicks Pass were worth all the pain and grumbling.
For once we reached the top, it was like nature’s Vicodin. A calm settled upon us, and whatever aches and pains we had been experiencing, disappeared. It was so beautiful, we considered staying the night, but there was too much daylight and not enough food to stretch our hike another day before we reach Tahoe City, so we slowly made our way down the from the top of the pass. Compared to the rocky terrain on the way up, this tread felt like plush carpet. We passed Richardson Lake and began to hear interesting and somewhat disquieting noises. They were, no doubt, animal noises of the big and fury kind. Definitely that of a bear. We strained our eyes and ears trying to locate the source of the sounds in an attempt to determine if we were walking toward (or worse yet into) the sounds, or they were heading away from us. We walked (quickly) until we couldn’t hear them any longer, which was a shame as we had planned on camping at Richardson Lake.
But it turns out that the next lake, Fontanilli Lake, was even more picturesque and to this day is my most favorite lake of the entire trek (to include the PCT). I wish I had my fly rod as we would have had fresh trout for dinner, and breakfast for that matter. No sooner had we bedded down for the night, the sounds we had heard earlier were upon us…or felt like they were. Not wanting to be a bear burrito, I shooed Paul out of the tent with our headlamps on full spotlight mode to investigate. Maybe we shouldn’t have bathed and “washed” (more like rinse) our clothes at Susie Lake. Upon Paul’s exit, the sounds stopped. No prints were near our tent, and our food we had stashed away from us was undisturbed. Now this happened more than once, and we (Paul actually) was beginning to get a bit perturbed. We pictured a Far Side cartoon, with two bears laughing their fury asses off. “Watch this Vern…I bet I can make them come out again…and, “What pray tell do they think those little moons will do?” Eventually we decided not to take the bait, and fell into a fitful sleep filled with visions of becoming a bear chew toy, hoping we still smelled bad enough that they would regret their folly.
*Just a reminder, this was a trip we did July 9-17, 2013. It’s a trip we’d encourage anyone to take, especially if you are training for the PCT or any other long distance trail.