September 19: 8 miles

Galena Falls over Relay peak to Gray Lake…

Sherman wakes me up. It’s windy and cold. The weather forecast I get on the Inreach SE is for lows around 30. I take him out for a quick walk then we snuggle back in under the quilt and wait for the sun to show above the mountains. I doze and wake a few times. About 8 we’re both awake and I start to slowly put things together in the tent.

The wind has let up a bit, but it’s still biting. I get food for both of us, crawl into the tent where we both eat out of the wind.

One thing I like about this tent is that it holds some of the body heat, breathing heat. This morning it feels like it may be 20 degrees warmer inside than outside.

After we eat I go out to pack. Sherman stays inside curled up. When I’m ready to roll up the tent he comes out and watches me and the blowing branches and leaves.

When we head off I have on all my layers. Wool baselayer shirt over wool hiking shirt covered with Houdini wind breaker and down jacket. Pants over wool baselayer pants.

It’s another hour before it’s warmed up enough to take off the wool baselayer and down jacket. A combination of air temp and body heat from hiking uphill.

We’re slowly headed up to Relay Peak, they highest point on the TRT — 10,250 feet. As we wind our way up the terrain changes. It starts feeling more like the Sierras I remember on the John Muir Trail. Much steeper and rockier. Fewer forest areas. The trees are in smaller communities.

As we start up Relay Mountain the trail is steeper. The switchbacks are tighter. There are places where one foot steps are all that I can do. Sherman seems to be doing fine. He’s slightly pulling on his leash. And… the views from the increasing altitude are spectacular!

As we start up Relay Mountain the trail is steeper. The switchbacks are tighter. There are places where one foot steps are all that I can do. Sherman seems to be doing fine. He’s slightly pulling on his leash.

I mostly keep him on his hiking leash. Initially it was because he had a slightly strained right rear knee. That’s healed. The purpose of the leash now is to control the number of miles he hikes. If I hike a 10 mile day and he’s on leash he hikes an 11-12 mile day because of his wandering and sniffing. If he’s off leash he probably hikes a 15+ mile day.

In Vermont on the Long Trail most days were around 7-8 miles and I let him run about 1/3 of each day. Here I’ve seen that he gets tired if we do two strenuous 10-mile days in a row. So, I’m helping him manage his energy output. So far it’s working well.

Back to our trek up Relief Peak…

The trail is now near 10,000 feet. The views are astonishing. Being above the mountain ranges that surround one is an amazing sight. An amazing feeling. It’s no easy to experience that there is no out there, out there. Thought stops. All that is — IS.

I can see peak now. It’s a rounded top with a pile of rocks at the highest point. I take a picture of Sherman standing on the top of Relief Peat. I then sit there and have a snack. Sherman sits on the rock next to me.

One of his traits that is always a surprise is that he actually looks at the world. We get to a place where there’s a clear view of a vista a some kind and he stops and looks. Today he’s sitting and looking at the distant mountains. Moving his head to look at different groups of mountains. He did the same thing in Vermont. Does the same thing hiking in the mountains around Ojai. The other night when we were in the room at the Resort I came into the room twice and found him standing on the couch looking at himself in the mirror over the couch. Haven’t seen him do that one before…

Views from Relief Peak — 10,250 feet\

Another direction…

Another direction…

Another direction…

Another direction…

Another direction…

A Sherman requested break on our way down from the peak.

A view of one of Lake Tahoe’s bays.

From Relief Peak it’s about 3 miles downhill to Gray Lake. The downhill is also through very rocky and desolate terrain. As we get nearer the lake the dense pine forests return.

The first view of Gray Lake shimmering in the meadow.

We come to an open space that looks like a large meadow. Then to the inlet to the lake. The water is so clear and cold. It’s running into an open area filled with water. It’s all very grassy up to the open water. In the summer I’ll bet it’s filled with birds and bird song.

The inlet…

Looking toward the lake from the inlet. Standing here I think of how fresh and salt water marshes clean the water that moves through them.

We follow the lake loop trail and find a lovely place to stop, setup camp. Sherman wants to walk. So, we walk around the quarter mile lake loop twice with him off his leash. He’s very happy!!

The guidebook says that the hollow this lake is in is known for it’s cold nights. So we hunker down and go to sleep.