Sherman on a training hike on Sisar Road in Ojai.
(A sprinkle of photos from last years Tahoe Rim Trail hike are in this post.)
On our way from Echo Lake to the motel in Pollack Pines, I stop at a grocery store for food. I still have some hiking food left, but am in what’s called “Hiker’s Hunger”. On a long hike the body’s runs at a calorie deficit. On the trail there’s a knowing to conserve existing food, water, etc. Then the hiker get’s to town. The body calls loudly for calories. I bought, and ATE 2 burritos, an 8-piece daily-made California Roll sushi, a quart of coconut milk ice cream, half a bag of corn chips with guacamole and/or hummus. I was very full. But sated.
This morning I feel ok. Probably still digesting…
Ward Creek to Tahoe City: 7.1 miles
We get up knowing it’s the last day on the trail. Initially I thought our hike may be 7-8 days. But as noted, on those intended short days, there wasn’t anyplace to camp at those locations. On this trail, the terrain that is open and flat enough for a tent is mostly near water sources. That makes sense. This is mountainous country with steeply angled mountain sides. Most of the terrain on the other side of the lake we hiked last year was more open and less steep. In general, the eastern side of the lake is more like the foothills of the mountains on the western side of the lake.
I pack as Sherman guards the perimeter. I have a thought and feeling of relief that the rest of the hike is all downhill. I check the map. So much for what I think. As you can see on the elevation map at the top, there’s a tiring uphill section before the final downhill into Tahoe City.
N. Fork Blackwood Creek to Ward Creek: 6.7 miles
It’s was a cold night. High 30’s and breezy. By midnight Sherman and I are under the quilt together. Very toasty and very cozy. At one point in the early morning I notice that he has 2/3 of the sleeping pad and I am along an edge. How does that happen? So I move him over and claim my half. When I wake up about 7:30 he’s got 2/3 again…
We wake at 8:00 to the sound of a helicopter. A few minutes later, another one. We get up and retrieve the bear bags. I see Carl and Natalie are up so we walk over to say good morning. Another helicopter goes by. We see the markings this time. Search and Rescue. 10 minutes later another. That makes four copters headed in the same direction. They’re flying fast so they’re not looking for something or someone, they are on their way someplace. We spend a couple minutes trying to imagine what could require four helicopters and can’t come up with anything. The mystery will remain until we get back to Wi-Fi and News access.
We’re packing and they head out about 10 minutes before us. We assume will see each other on the trail later in the day.
This is the second most difficult climb of the trail. It’s about 600 feet in total elevation in less than 2 miles. Many of the uphills are quite steep – a 7% grade. When we get to the top Carol, Natalie, and Stella have taken a break. We too stop for a break. We’re all beat up by the climb at the altitude.
Natalie asks if I’d like a photo with both of us. I do, and here it is…
Richardson Lake to N. Fork Blackwood Creek: 8.7 miles
When I’m up I start toward the bear bags and see the new “laying down” tree again. I’m sure it’s the one that fell. Just then, 4 woman hiking together, that I’d met the night before when Sherman and I were hiking in, come over to look for the tree that fell. We find the stump. The tree broke off underground, glanced off another tree and was guided between two other trees.
They see and ask about the bear bags. I talked about them yesterday as they complained about using bear canisters, big plastic or carbon fiber containers that bears have yet to figure out how to open. Last year a bear at Yosemite learned to roll canisters off a short cliff. The impact would pop open the canister and Mr. Smartypants would have a snack. I think the park moved him way back in the wilderness, away from the human traffic.
Anyway, the canisters are a pain to use. I used one when I hiked the John Muir Trail years back. On that hike I was told by a very experienced hiker about these new Kevlar bear bags. He was using one, illegally. His style of hiking was to choose a canyon that had no trails and go get lost. Then the game was to find his way out. Way beyond my interest…
I show the girls how the OdorProof bags and Kevlar sack work. They return to eating and packing. I finish packing and Sherman and I hit the trail.
Leaving camp. Sherman’s mostly off leash at this point. But I always start him out on the leash until I feel his energy is engaged in the hike.
Dick’s Lake to Richardson Lake: 11 miles.
It is a long cold night. I wake up cool a couple of times and can’t figure out why. I finally have the flash it’s my windbreaker which I have on over my wool shirt. It’s polyester and where it’s not touching my body it’s temperature is lower. When I take it off I warm up. Sometime in the middle of the night Sherman gets cold and crawls in under the quilt. At that point the temperature under the quilt goes up as his body temperature is higher than mine. It’s like bringing a little hot water bottle to bed. We both sleep till about 7:30.
We’re on the trail by 8:30, heading for Richardson’s lake. It’s another 10 mile day.
Sherman’s on his hiking leash today for most of the day to keep his mileage down. When he’s loose he goes at least twice as far as I do. I know from experience that a human 10 mile and dog 20 mile day totally wears him out.
Gilmore Lake to Dick’s Lake: 4.5 miles
We crawl into the tent at 7:30. It’s almost dark. My new hiking quilt feels wonderful. It’s 6 inches longer and 4 inches wider that the other one. And it’s rated for 20 degrees! The other is rated for 30 degrees, but at 30 degrees it still required my wool base layer to be warm. When near 20 degrees I had to wear that base layer, my hiking pants, my hiking long sleeve shirt under the base layer and my down jacket. Being warm to the bone was still questionable.
Sherman on sentry duty while I pack us up to start the day. The green bags are the Odor-Proof bags that go inside the white Ursak Bear Bags.
Echo Lake to Gilmore Lake: 11 miles
(NOTE: There was no stable cell signal during the hike, so nothing I wrote got posted. Now that we’re done, I’ll post as I can in chronological order.)
I’m going to include both of these maps each day. The topographical map shows the geography, path the trail takes and the relationship of places. The elevation map gives you a sense of how much energy it takes to get from one place to another.
Get up at 6:30. The rain has ended. The sky is clear. I check out at 7. We get to Echo Lake at 8. When we are within a few miles of the lake, on small roads lined with cottages, Sherman gets excited. Tail wagging. Looking out the front window. Does he remember driving in here last year? We’re headed to the same trailhead parking…
We left Ojai at 4:30am with the intent to drive to the Echo Lake Trailhead and hike about 4 miles into the Desolation Wilderness. The weather forecast was for intermittent drizzle in the area ending around 1pm. When we drove through Sacramento this was the weather. But, at 2pm, as I drove up the mountains that surround Tahoe, the rain got heavier and heavier. As I approached the turnoff to Echo Lake it was pouring. I saw a sign for a Best Western, which I know takes pets, drove in to see about a room. The woman at the counter said it had been raining all day. She said her young daughter had asked at breakfast, “Where are my rain boots?” “Rain boots? It partly sunny…” “Well mom, the weather I just heard is that it’s going to rain pretty hard today.”
PHOTO: Testing out the tent in Libbey Park. Haven’t used this tent in 5 years. Needed to be sure I remembered how to set it up and that I had all the parts. Success on both.
Sherman and I are heading back to The Tahoe Rim Trail on Wednesday the 18th, picking up the section we didn’t complete because I rolled by ankle.
The ankle and knee are now fine after some wonderful physical therapy support with Joanna at Swanner Physical Therapy.
We’re starting at Echo Lake and going through the Desolation Wilderness up to Tahoe City. It’s 50-60 miles depending on how many mountain lakes we hike down to to camp. It’ll take us 6-7 days.
I’ll be writing and photoing as we go. If I have strong enough cell signal along the way I’ll do some posting from the trail.
If no signal, I’ll do the posting from Tahoe City the night we stay over before driving home.
I’ll be carrying my inReach SE which sends a GPS ping to the map you can find on www.wynmatthews.com. Click the Map link in the Menu. The device also allows me to communitace with Search and Rescue if needed.
Sherman and I didn’t do as much preparation hiking as in past years. I think we’re ready. But we won’t find out until we actually hit the trail and it’s 7500-10,000 ft elevation.
We plan on being back by the 27th if all goes according to plan.
Enjoy! We will…
Wyn and Sherman
September 23: Zero Miles
The featured image is a pastel in the room where we’re staying. Love it!
It’s about the same as last night. Slightly injured. Full mobility in terms of walking and squatting. But strained in terms of rolling outward.
So… we’re done.
It’s been an interesting process over the last 24 hours. The conflicting desires to finish the hike and to honor the fact of the injury.
Being true to what is… the rolled ankle… (more…)