Day 2: Gilmore Lake to Phipps Creek


Distance: 1 mile to get to the PCT, then 16 miles on the PCT (sorta) from PCT mile 1097 to PCT mile 1113

I fell asleep by 6:30 pm on Sunday. It rained off and on all night and was still sprinkling at dawn. I wanted until 6 am and finally the rain stopped. I packed up and started off in search of the PCT.

Almost every bit of trail is covered in snow for the first few miles: I was guided by GPS.

Once the trail hit a southern exposure the snow was mostly melted! Yay!

I reached Dicks Pass and found it snow covered: I could see frozen Dicks Lake below, but could not see the trail or tacks.

The snow was firm so I made my own route down to the lake. There was an access trail next to the lake that I followed to re-meet with the PCT.

There is another steep descent at Fontanellis Lake. This required crossing the stream exiting the lake, which was flowing too fast and deep for me to try solo. I checked the map and saw the stream runs down to Upper Velma Lake which has a trail leading to the PCT. so, once again I cross-countried down a steep snow field. Here’s what a Post-hole looks like:

That was a big one that dropped my whole body about 3 feet! Fun climbing back out.

All along the way I was looking for a good crossing point. I found a nice stone crossing at the lake edge where the water wide was moving slow.

I was able to cross without getting wet! Now I just need to find my way back to the trail!

It looks like the snow melt this year or last repositioned this bridge- no trouble, it still works fine!

My camping spot is at Phipps Creek at the point where two streams combine. The trail crosses at the deepest and fastest part of those combined streams. I looked around and found it easier to cross each of the two streams. When I got to my camping site, I set out to collect water and saw my second bear can washed up in the willow across the stream – what’s going on?

I set up camp and again was in bed before sunset.

It rained about half the night. Sometime late when it had stopped, I peeked outside and saw stars. I decided to open my rain fly in hope of getting more air circulation to prevent condensation inside the tent: I don’t want a wet sleeping bag.

In the morning I find my bag dry, yay!

Thanks for reading!

Day 1: Mt Tallac Trailhead to Gilmore Lake

6.5 miles towards the PCT

Liz and I drove up to Fallen Leaf Lake Campground on Saturday to get an early Sunday start. I’ve been wanting to climb Mt Tallac for years and decided to rejoin the PCT near Gilmore Lake at the base of Mt Tallac.

Liz joined me for most of the way up, and even donned met microspikes for the snowfields. Liz is shy, so I cannot post any photos of her.

We saw lots of day hikers going up to bag the summit. We met Melissa and Johnny who were on a training workout: she’s hoping to find a permit to climb Mt Rainer, and he is training to hike the PCT next year!

We did not see much wildlife on the trail but we did see a grouse.

The views were great too!

Liz’s time was running out so we parted. I hope we find a way to meet up before Sept!

After a lot of slow slogging, I was able to get myself up to the summit. I got passed by a lot of people today, but they are just hiking for the day.

Great sights from the top. Stitch these two panorama shots together in your mind for a 360 degree view from the top. This is a great day hike when the snow is less of an issue!

Once on top I saw skiers coming up from the North!

I also saw a view of Gilmore Lake

Huh, it’s still frozen… I wonder if I’m camping on snow tonight?

The trail down to Gilmore Lake was covered in snow and there were no tracks from others hiking this route. I assessed my option: return to South Tahoe and hitchhike to Echo Lakes and start there, or blaze my own trail. The topo maps showed no steep drop offs and I had visibility of the Lake most of the time so I chose to go for it. I post-holed a lot, that’s where the snow is soft and deep and your foot drops down sometimes up to waist deep.

I knew I was getting close to the lake when I found a destroyed bear can. I wonder what the story is behind this…

I made good time coming down and found a few patches of dryish dirt to set up a tent in: tight fit!

But great views!

Clouds are forming and the sun is setting behind them. It’s only 6pm but I’m beat and it is starting to chill down, so off to bed I go. First day a success!

Thanks for reading!

Planning my 2018 PCT Section

One year ago today  I completed the first 750 miles of the PCT, from Campo on the Mexican Border

to Chicken Spring Lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains (750 trail miles north)

In September, I returned and hiked the next 100 miles (plus) to exit at Bishop Pass, bagging Mt. Whitney on the way

Ever since I’ve been planning my return to finish the Pacific Crest Trail. I have completed the sections from Mexico to South Lake Tahoe. On Sunday, May 20th I start my three and one half month hike from Lake Tahoe to Canada, a 1,600 Mile journey.

I’ve learned a lot from my previous trips.  I have shaved pounds off my my pack weight: I now have a “base weight” (backpack weight without food, water or fuel) of just over 20 pounds.  That means for a 5-day stretch with food and water my pack will weigh about 30 pounds.  Not bad at all! Here’s my gear (I forgot the sleeping bag in this photo).

There are a lot more food resupply points on this trail segment as compared to last year. This year I will be starting my hike stove-less: no hot meals on the trail. I’ve found that snacking seems to work better for me. My plan is to purchase food at stores along the way at 9 places, and mail packages to Post Offices (General Delivery) for the rest. Half of those will be mailed from home by my wife Liz (thank you!) and the rest I will mail to myself from somewhere on the trail that has a good supermarket.

I’m both excited and a bit nervous: the late season snows in the Sierras are still going on, so I’ll be dealing with that (stay tuned!), then I may find myself re-routing to avoid summer fire closures…

I’ll be updating this blog along the way, so please follow along! Feel free to post questions and comments !

Thanks for reading!