|Sunrise on the drive to the trailhead.|
Trail: Technical singletrack
Distance: 26 miles (out and back)
Trailhead: The trailhead at Echo Lakes Resort can be reached off of Hwy 50 near South Lake Tahoe, CA. Just south of Echo Summit, turn south on Johnson Pass Rd. At the Snow Park parking area, turn left and follow the road for about a half mile to the resort at Echo Lakes. Public outhouses are located adjacent to the parking area.
Season: July to October
Water: Creeks and lakes are plentiful during approximately the first ten miles. After the turn off to climb up to the pass you may find snow patches in early season or big snow years.
Notes: Wilderness permit required, even for day use. No fee, as of 2011. You can fill out permits at the trailhead.
|Trish, Monica, Jennifer, and Jamie, trailside.|
Head south on the Pacific Crest Trail and Tahoe Rim Trail (the same trail, at this point) and follow the signs to Dick's Pass. Trails are well marked. You can turn around whenever you'd like for a run of any distance.
|Stormy skies and snowy peaks above Aloha Lake|
I set out with Jamie, Trish, Monica, and Jen (Caren caught up with us later) for a long, beautiful day in the Desolation Wilderness. Days like these are reminders of just why I live in Tahoe, and why I do this crazy ultrarunning thing.
The trail began across technical, rocky terrain along Echo Lake. We engaged in the standard conversation for this stretch of trail: Just how does one acquire one of these boat-in, lake-front cabins on National Forest land? Given that they can only be inherited, schemes ranged from befriending elderly landowners to marrying them.
After the glorious beauty of Aloha Lake, we made a wrong turn across the snow. I personally found the off-trail scrambling and snow traverses to be a fun adventure. The remainder of our group at least took the adventure to be reenforcement of what complete badasses we are.
Yeah, anyone can get there if they take the trail!
|Climbing up to the pass|
After passing Echo, Aloha, Susie, and Heather Lakes, we worked our way up towards Dick's Pass. There is more climbing on the way out than on the return trip, and we were still full of spirit and soaking up our surroundings.
|Jamie, Monica, and Trish at the top of the pass.|
|View from the top.|
I found it fitting that the trailside lakes carried female names. It is rare that I spend an eight hour day running with a group of 5 other women. It's been a topic of much conversation lately not only why there are so few women in the sport of ultrarunning, but also how lucky we are to find ourselves among them. Although I quite appreciate most of the men I've met and run with, it is certainly a unique and wonderful atmosphere to be out in the wilderness with a group of badass women. It promotes unique topics of conversation as well. Enough said.
|Trail along Heather Lake|
We found a beautiful waterfall on the return trip - good for filling water bottles and for mid-run showers.
The day wasn't all that hot, but I couldn't resist the refreshment. It felt something like this ...
|Return trail along Aloha Lake|
|We pondered the name "Aloha" and decided it was chosen for the clear blue water, almost tropical looking, and tiny granite islands that look like sandy beaches.|
The last 5 miles back along Echo are always tiring but wistful. My legs felt shot from all the rocks, and the going was slow. My feet were hammered, feeling every piece of granite beneath my shoes. Still, I felt the peaceful sadness of the day coming to a close.
My fitness is not what it was in June, but it was such a wonder to be out there. A blessing, every mile.
|Technical trail leads to Echo Lake.|
Back at the car, a quick swim in Echo Lake is the satisfying cleansing to finish this prayer. The wind was fierce, and I nearly chickened out. Jamie went under first, obligating me to go.
And that's exactly what good, badass, chick, ultrarunning friends are for.