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.

Before we hiked he Long Trail in Vermont I was trying to figure out how far he could walk a day safely. One day we were hiking across the Cozy-Ojai Fire Road above Shelf Road (the 1st fire road) in Ojai. We went around a corner and there were 2 grey foxes about 20 feet away. They ran up and into the brush filling the dry creek bed. But I saw that Sherman is the same size they are. I looked up fox territory and discovered that an adult fox to range 5 miles from their den. In times when food was scarce they’d range 10 miles. So, I figured 10 miles a day was about Sherman’s limit. Last year after three 10 mile days off leash in a row, he was spent, and slept for 16 hours.

Near Dick’s Lake is Fontanillis Lake, the last water before Richardsons Lake.

I love these reflective moments.

This as an amazingly beautiful lake. The water is so clear it almost doesn’t exist. Standing at the shore, and reaching down to touch the water… the eyes can’t tell where the surface actually begins. I fill up the extra liter bottle I brought just for this 10 mile stretch of dry trail.

This is the Fontanillis Lake outlet (at a dam we call it a spillway). Water tumbles down the side of the mountain. A reminder that this is an ecosystem. The lakes are connected. The water from the higher one’s overflowing and running downhill into the lower ones, on and on into Lake Tahoe. When does a puddle become a pond become a lake become an ocean?

As you see on the elevation map at the beginning of the post, there are two moderate uphill stretches today with the largest portion of today’s work being downhill. We’re in the first one. That’s Fontanillis Lake in the background.

Adding me to that frame…

Break time. I walked up a rise to see what was ahead. Turning around to come down I see Sherman watching. “Whatcha doin’?”

Later in the day on my way to dig a cat hole, I find this scene. What story does this tell?

Pulling up my pants after the cat hole, The button pops off my pants. And I find it!

We’re both tired from yesterday‘s hike and so take it easy with many breaks. On one break in the afternoon when we got up to leave, I put on my pack and reached for my hiking poles when Sherman leaves the trail, walks behind me and with his nose points at a water bottle that I’d forgotten to put back in the pack pocket. Unexpected moments like this have me look at him and really wonder how much he understands. There’s so much detailed information and so much contextual information in that action on his part. Blows my mind.

Last year on the Tahoe Rim Trail he started poking at water bottles with his nose to tell me he was thirsty. I wondered, and wonder, how does he know there’s water in that bottle? Since he started queuing me in that way for water he’s done it in the house, hiking around Ojai, and out here on the trail.

Another thing I watch him do is picking his exact track on the trail. The trail is 12 to 24 inches wide. There infinite options of exactly what track to take down the trail. I’d say 95% of the time he picks the most efficient track. I’ve started following him except where his 4 feet go where my 2 feet can’t exactly follow.

That processing he does to determine the track that’s most energy efficient? I’m doing the same calculation. I notice when he’s following me that he doesn’t always follow my track. He’s making his own decisions. He’s “hiking his own hike” as we say.

This unusual rust colored plant shows up occasionally in this trail section.

We’ve exited the Desolation Wilderness and are out of the high granite section of the hike. We see more green. Small and large meadows. And these large boulders. I love this big rock. Such a presence. Silent. Unmoving. And sometime, somehow it moved a great distance to be in this spot.

Cresting the 2nd high spot of the day.

I cruised by this. Was stopped in the track by something. Turned around and saw the ferns. The first ferns we’d hiked past. A signal of the different micro-climate in this area.

First view of Richardson Lake.

On the long switchbacked hike down, the lake keep up the peek-a-boo game…

We make it to Richardson’s Lake about 6:30. It’s a busy campground. There are three hiker camps and one camp with a group of adults and kids. The way their camp is set up they obviously didn’t hike in. Big tarps and big heavy tents. This lake is one of the few that has a road that comes up here from Lake Tahoe. So, it’s Saturday, and party time.

I wander around a bit, standing in and feeling the few places left. I pick one and start unpacking. Another hiker comes over and says he’d consider that spot but changed his mind because of the dead tree nearby. I look at the tree. It’s a good 4 feet in diameter and 12 to 15 feet high. The rest of the tree that fell is very long and well decomposed. The tree doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere. So I set up the tent.

The kids are loud well after dark, calling back-and-forth to each other, calling to dad, adults yelling back to the kids. No one’s upset. Just yell talking from tent to tent.

Around 8:00 they quiet down. I’m drifting off to sleep and I hear a loud and close “crack” of a tree breaking. I think, “Oh, oh…” Then I hear it hit the ground. Nearby, but not on or next to our tent. I get my headlamp and go out to look. The guy that warned me is out there with his headlamp too. I see what looks like a large branch on the ground near where I tied the bear bags that I don’t recall being there before. We don’t see a stump or tree large enough to have dropped the branch. More will be revealed in the morning.

I go back to quilting. Sherman comes under and we sleep.