June 26, 2017
~Mile 1091.5 – Mile 1101.3
The alarm went off this morning, and though it wasn’t early by trail standards, it was pretty early by vacation standards, so dragging ourselves out of bed was no easy task. But the excitement of getting back on trail eventually got us up. We packed up all of our gear, ate a quick breakfast, and popped over to the post office where I was able to shed the weight of my bear can (since we’re out of the Sierra now, we no longer need them). My pack is so much easier to manage without that damn thing.
Grant gave us a ride up to Echo Lake, which was about 45 minutes away. I was definitely getting antsy on the drive over, knowing the trail was so close. Finally, the trail crossed right over the road we were driving on, so we jumped out of the car and got ready to start hiking. Seeing the PCT sign felt amazing. We were finally home. The trail started out in a beautiful pine forest, and it was amazing. It was warm and dry and smelled incredible. My feet felt clumsy and awkward and my pack felt heavy, but I was home.
Eventually we reached Echo Lake, which was beautiful. I forgot to check what mile we actually started at, but we ended up starting a little under a mile before the lake itself. The trail followed the edge of the lake for a few miles, and it was really great hiking. It was super rocky, but at least it was dry (except for the times the trail literally became a stream, but at least it wasn’t snow). The day hikers were out in force, even though it was a Monday, and we passed a ton of people.
We stopped under the shade of some trees for lunch, and I ate a crap ton of food. We literally just started hiking again, but I feel like hiker hunger has already returned with a vengeance. I was so hungry today, I literally could not stop eating. Eventually, the trail became pretty much entirely covered in snow. While we were stopped at lunch, we saw another PCT hiker heading back because the snow was too much for him, and he told us that he had followed some footprints in the snow that had lead him miles off trail. Well, we almost did the exact same thing. Luckily, Cougar and Dr. McDirty were smart enough to realize that Gummies and I were happily traipsing off in the opposite direction from where the trail was going. This is why you should travel in groups, people. Provided that at least some of the people in the group have brains.
Honestly, things started to really feel normal once we got back into the snow. It’s physically and mentally exhausting, but slogging through slush in a mountain forest just feels like where I’m supposed to be right now. Plus, the views were totally gorgeous. We wound around alpine lakes with snowy mountain backdrops all afternoon, and it was incredible. We actually made pretty good time through the snow too (as far as snow mileage goes). We got some sections of dry trail near the end of the day too, which was really nice.
We managed to find a dry, flat piece of land to camp on at the end of the day, which is awesome. Although, the ground was super rocky and there was an ill-placed log that made pitching my tent extremely difficult. But, it’s standing, and that’s all that matters. We’re camped right on the shore of Susie Lake, which is nice. I finally got to use the dehydrated veggies my parents sent in a care package to Bishop, and they were awesome. I had ramen with veggies, sriracha, and peanut butter. Soooooo good. Now I’m snuggled up in my nice warm quilt, and everything is right in the world again. I’m back home in the wilderness. The family is all together again. The adventure continues.