Susie Lake to Upper Velma Lake
(10 miles, +2,000/-1,900 feet)
Man oh man the moon was bright last night. I didn’t bring my umbrella on this trip because I didn’t expect rain or long hot fast climbs, but I sure wish I had brought it for its moon shade.
Since we didn’t have to drive this morning we were able to get a bright and early start before sunrise, capturing the absolute best part of the day for hiking.
We hiked about an hour and a half to Gilmore Lake, which was absolutely still. While we ate breakfast on the shore I just stared agape at this magical mirror.
One nice thing about starting early is that our refreshing climb to Lake Gilmore warmed us up and knocked 500 feet off our total ascent up to Dicks Pass. But another is that the light was still pretty amazing as we slowly traversed upward.
We stopped to strip off our puffies once it warmed up, and I discovered that I did not have my hat! I must have left it at the lake. I spent about 10 minutes unpacking my whole bag and repacking it, but to no avail. Once again I was in LNT deficit! Fortunately, I soon found a smart water bottle that I could pack out, but I think a hat means I’ll need to find a few other large bits of trash as well….
During our unexpectedly long break, we chatted with a man from Florida who had flown out to do the Tahoe Rim Trail. I think we passed maybe a dozen or so people doing the whole thing in addition to 3 or 4 thru-hikers that were barreling their way towards Forester Pass, trying to get over it before the first Sierra snowfall.
Soon it was time to climb again, and the trail was mercifully less rocky than yesterday.
We took another break in a meadow just below what we called the “fake pass.” This is a part of the ascent where we momentarily got a nice view of Dicks Lake on the other side of the ridge, but we needed to ascend another 300 feet to the real pass.
Near the fake pass we chatted with an older solo hiker who was planning to climb Dicks Peak. We could see him steadily making progress on a use trail that heads from the fake pass towards the peak.
ZoZoZoom was especially pleased that she made it to the pass. It was an elevation PR are for her, and I think she had fretted for several weeks before our trip, worrying that she would need to turn back. But she did great!
We each called our spouses to celebrate, stuffed our faces, and then headed downhill (yay!).
At Fontanilis Lake we looked for another place to dip our toes, just like we did in Lake Aloha yesterday. But I had a surprise for Zo.
After my sierra swim, I watched a surface-skimming spider for a while. It was beautiful.
After an extremely lovely break we pressed on.
We arrived at Upper Velma Lake around 4pm but then proceeded to search for the perfect campsite for about half an hour. Of course, we ended up back at the very first campsite we saw!
After we set up camp, we spent some time exploring below Upper Velma Lake.
We didn’t quite make it to sundown. It was a long fulfilling day and around 6:30pm we were both in our tents. Fortunately for me, our campsite was in a deep wood. Hopefully it will bock out the oh-so-bright full moon tonight.