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[pct-l] TR: Donner Pass to Carson Pass
- Subject: [pct-l] TR: Donner Pass to Carson Pass
- From: csiechert at hotmail.com (Carl Siechert)
- Date: Tue Aug 12 00:02:12 2003
About two weeks ago the 1977 Kelty Kids did a section of PCT from just south of Donner Pass (actually, we started at the Five Lakes trail near Alpine Meadows) to Carson Pass. Significant events and observations:
Mosquitos were out in force at the beginning of the trip, but were diminishing in numbers by week's end. We were personally responsible for removing thousands from the backcountry.
The wildflowers, particularly in the northern part of Desolation Wilderness, were awesome. Some of the best Sierran displays I've ever seen, in numbers of blooms and numbers of different species.
We had the all-time best Sierran swimming experience at Fontanillis Lake (just north of Dicks Pass). Near the outlet, the large rocks, sandy bottom, and quick dropoff beckoned, despite the snowbanks dropping down into the opposite side of the lake. The water temperature (at least when we were there) was wonderful--probably in the high 60's. We swam for about 20 minutes--and never got cold. Then we stepped out of the lake and into the outlet stream, where there's a terrific one-person-sized whirlpool/cascade. After we'd had enough of that, we stepped out onto large, warm, flat (but sloped at a nice angle) granite slabs to lay out--and enjoy the picture-perfect view of Lake Tahoe below. This spot is highly recommended!
We saw the tail end of the nobo thrus who had started at ADZ time, including Shutterbug, Ready, and Sunburn. Shutterbug reports that they were 22 days behind schedule because of all the distractions along the way, including Yosemite Valley, Lake Tahoe, Mt. Whitney, etc. etc. They're still going strong, but because they're so far off schedule, they're considering a flipflop for Washington and/or Oregon.
We also encountered a second wave of hikers--the ones who had started later. Most notably, we met Amity, a young woman from Seattle who looks like she just stepped out of the car for a short day hike. But watch out Flyin' Brian; this lady is cooking! She started at the border on June 14 and was at Echo Summit on August 1--even though it had rained on her for each of the previous 16 days.
And speaking of rain...we got into some nasty thunderstorms on the last two days. One dumped about 2" of rain in an hour. The next day, we watched as flash floods wiped out parts of the PCT in the bowl above Showers Lake. Mud, boulders, ice, snow, and a torrent of water over 3 feet deep raced down the gullies.
Other trail conditions: There are quite a few blowdowns between Middle Velma Lake and Richardson Lake, but a USFS trail crew was headed in that general direction, so they might be gone by now.
Demonstrating that she's not just doing this to improve her chances of becoming governor, we ran into PCTA exec director Liz Bergeron several miles south of Echo Summit. She had taken three friends out for a day hike to show them the wonders of the PCT. What a place to introduce them to hiking: that's one of the steepest sections in California!
For the first time in 27 years, the Kelty Kids were not all carrying the custom packs with the flexible external frame that Dick Kelty made for our 1977 thru hike. Norm is now sporting a G4 from GVP Gear, and I have a Moonlite pack and vest harness from Six Moon Designs. Both performed admirably...and there's definitely something to this lightweight stuff. We found that decreasing weight helps to compensate for increasing age.
Itching to go back,