It’s the Fourth of July, and we’re in Desolation Wilderness, right by Lake Tahoe. Desolation is one of the most popular places to camp in the entire Sierra — and this is probably the single most popular weekend of the year to do it. This all means we are not alone, and not alone in a big way. For the first time on this entire trip, we’re massively outnumbered by other kinds of hikers — mostly weekend hikers, in for a day or two.
This is actually kind of fun. Back when we were on the John Muir Trail, we were definitely outnumbered by JMT hikers, but they all knew what we were doing…and, after all, they’re actually doing something very similar, just quite a bit shorter. Yesterday and today, however, we have a lot of chances to answer “So, where are ya headed?” with “Canada” — and lots of chances to see some very astonished looks on people’s faces. The PCT winds through Desolation on a path that’s shared with many other trails, so many people likely don’t even realize it’s here.
It’s always lots of fun to have these conversations with “normal” people — they’re almost always so impressed and so supportive. I do think I could make a card that would answer almost all their questions; it would look like this:
- All the way to Canada, or at least that’s the plan.
- Yes, seriously.
- About five and a half months.
- April 8th.
- You have to average about 21 miles a day.
(Apparently a surprisingly common question is, “are you carrying a gun?” — but I haven’t personally been asked that one yet.)
It’s also fun to see some folks out here in various states of decoration; one guy was actually carrying a very large American flag on his backpack (slightly crazy!) and one woman had an American flag bandanna and a bunch of pinwheels on her pack (kind of awesome). There are people everywhere; I don’t think there’s any actual solitude to be had no matter where you go. (This would drive me crazy if it were for a long time, but, for just a weekend, it’s kind of fun.) This morning we passed Lake Aloha, which is just gorgeous — a crystal-clear alpine lake nestled in a big, broad rock basin — and there were easily a dozen tents visible just from where we went to get water. I’m not sure I’d come back here on this weekend myself, since the solitude is part of the reason I go backpacking in the first place, but it’s pretty fun to see this weekend.
Our hike is taking us north around Lake Tahoe right now (in fact, the Tahoe Rim Trail follows the PCT for over fifty miles); most of the time you can’t actually see the lake, but you get shots of it from time to time. The hiking continues to be easier than what we came from in the High Sierra, although easier doesn’t mean easy — it’s still a lot of work, and the path is often very rocky and therefore slow going. We’re looking forward to that changing eventually, although I’m not sure exactly when that will be.
We also passed the 1100 mile mark today — exciting! It’s kind of cool to feel like these milestones come faster and faster as we progress. The next really big milestone is still about 225 miles away…the halfway point!