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…

I drive the quarter mile down to the Echo Lake Chalet, which is closed for the season, to put the last bit of van trash into their bear proof garbage containers.

Getting out I’m hit by a very cold, strong wind. Wow! It was summer when I left Ojai yesterday. This feels like autumn-winter. Then I realize we have to walk in this wind… Yikes! I gather the food that’s left from the drive and put it in a paper bag labeled Hiker Bag and put it by the overhang by the front door. I’ve seen hikers hang out there before. Then we go park and get ready to start walking. That’s accomplish at 8:30. We’re off…!

This is the start of the trail, a causeway over the spillway out of Echo Lake. You can see the wind in Sherman’s hair. It’s about 35 degrees!

Leaving the causeway and starting on the land trail, this is looking the length of the lake.

About half way down the lake the cabins begin. There’s no road here. Everything to build them and use them is done by boat.

A bit beyond the end of the lake we get to the Desolation boundary. There’s a Forest Ranger sitting on a rock. It’s about 9:30. She asks to see my permit. As I’m getting it out I tell her we drove up yesterday in time to hike into the Wilderness for the night. But, since it was pouring rain I decided to wait until today to start. Now, I know it’s a violation to enter after the permit date and she’d be within the regulations to refuse us entry. She smiles and chuckles. Since the rule is that you have to spend your first night in the section for which you have an entry permit, you should stay at Tamarack Lake which is about 2 more miles. But… the number of people entering the Wilderness is very low right now, so lets pretend you entered yesterday. That’ll mean you have to go further. I ask if Heather or Susie Lakes would be ok. She says she’d be happier if we went to Gilmore Lake where there are more and better campsites. So, Gilmore lake it is.

This means we’re hiking 11 miles instead of 4-8…

She asked how I’m managing our food? Am I using a Bear Canister? No, I say. I’m using odor proof bags inside of Ursak Bear Bags. She recommends using the PCT bear hanging method. I ask her what that is. She describes it. I don’t say out loud there’s no way I’m doing that. I know my way works and is approved and certified as bear safe in about half the parks in the country. It’s newer technology and is being tested by more and more regional authorities.

I ask about the weather forecast. She says light rain between 12-3. I say Thank You. Anything else you need from me? Or want to share with me? No on both counts. A couple is coming up the trail behind us. It’s a good time to go.

We take a break at Tamarack Lake, where we would have spent the first night if it weren’t raining.

As we approach Lake Aloha, it starts snowing little snow balls. It’s a blessing it’s not rain. Most of the snow bounces off us, so we don’t get very wet. As we continue it begins to cycle between snow and rain. Mostly snow. However, I notice Sherman’s hair is getting wet. This is one of my biggest worries. If he’s really wet, there is no good way to dry him out and his wetness gets all the sleeping stuff wet making for misery all around…

So I put on his raincoat with pack over it. I’ve never tested the combo, but they fit together fine. His opinion as he starts walking seems to agree with mine.

Lake Aloha is a very High Sierra looking lake. Lots of granite in and around the water.

A panorama of Lake Aloha.

Can you follow the trail as it curves through this granite? There’s a very slight line that marks the edge of the trail. Walking on it is just as elusive some times…

Beautiful view across Lake Helen.

The two wildflowers growing along the trail out of the steep granite slope.

Another look across Lake Helen.

The approach to Lake Suzie.

Our rest by Lake Suzie was especially lovely. Gentle and peaceful.

We get to Lake Gilmore about 5. I forget to take pics…

A light rain falls for 15 minutes while setting up. I remember the tent is single wall, rain resistant. Not rain proof… Thankfully it stops and the sky clears.

Prediction is 30 degrees tonight. A test of the new 20 degree rated quilt.