My Best Day
It was only day 4 of our trip when Rich and I made it to Dick’s Lake to camp before we attempted Dick’s Pass the next morning. That night we sat by the shore of the lake, having collected water and done some laundry, with a map in hand trying to decipher where exactly the pass was: .
Is it that low spot to the right?
No, that’s too far west.
Is it that steep section to the left?
I hope not, that looks scary
Could it be on the other side of that knob?
We’ll have to find out in the morning.
The next morning the first thing we found out was that all of the reports we’d heard of snow on the north side of the pass proved to be accurate. We followed footprints and trail markers, searched out exposed patches of trail but soon the snow was too thick and we found ourselves simply hiking in the general direction we thought the pass and the trail were in. We came to the ridge of the mountain way too soon and knew we were off track. But what a wonderful place to be lost!
Standing on that ridge we had an if-there-was-a-road-here-there’d-be-a-scenic-pullout-here view of Lake Tahoe. The forested hillside that we stood atop bumped and rolled down to the shores of Lake Tahoe, decorated in its descent by smaller untamed lakes resting in the nooks and flats of the wild mountains. We paused for a moment to snap pictures and delight in our fortuitous missteps.
With the aide of Rich’s GPS we found the path of footprints in the snow that constituted the trail and hiked up a gentle slop to the top of Dick’s Pass. The view of things to come in the days ahead, as we peered over the landscape to the south, led to nothing but optimism. From our vantage point we could pick out our end goal for the evening, Lake Aloha. A high alpine lake, nestled in the distance beneath dramatic snowy slopes, lifted up on its own high plateau, it rose above a landscape of lakes and tress and fair adventure. But before we made it to Lake Aloha we had one more mountain to climb, literally.
Our descent from Dick’s Pass was serene. We gathered our water from trickles of snow melt and plodded on until we reached Gilmore Lake where we dropped our packs and enjoyed some lunch. Leaving our heavy packs behind we made a quick trip up 1,500 feet in 1.8 miles to the top of Mt. Tallac. I’m not sure how to describe the views from atop the volcanic rocks of that mountain. It did give us a clear view of Lake Aloha, a less than subtle reminder that we still had a lot of ground to cover that day.
It was nearly 7 o’clock by the time we found a camp on Lake Aloha, but it could not have been a more glorious camp.
We set up on a peninsula that stuck out into the lake entertained first by the setting sun, and then by the rising moon, croaking frogs serenading us from a nearby pool the entire time. Rich shared some sun-dried tomatoes with me that I added to my dinner of mashed potatoes. I could not have been more content.
It was possibly our best day, filled with summited passes and peaks and treks to distant lakes, all made possible by the lighting of the summer solstice. I can only hope that what Shakespeare said about the solstice night is true.
“Whatever is dreamed on this night, will come to pass.”
Because surely those were some of the sweetest dreams I have had: bedded down beneath the stars, surrounded by an alpine lake, embraced by snowy peaks, a wonderful day of adventure behind me.