July 6th, Sunday
1104 to 1125
We woke up early that day, a bit thrown off at how warm it was already. The orange sun was just starting to touch the tips of the pines near our campsite, and by the time we packed up, the sun was full in the sky. It was very warm now, on the borderline of hot.
We soon found ourselves winding through a woodland of firs that sometimes opened up into still pools or fields full of a rainbow of wildflowers. Then we started a set of switchbacks up to Dick’s Pass, and soon we saw the landscape behind us, revealing a tumble of brown mountains swathed in green patches of trees and filled in at the corners by alpine lakes. I thought it was the most beautiful view I’d ever seen.
We paused at the top of Dick’s Pass (there was no snow) and chatted with a hiker who was trying to figure out where his friends had gotten off to. Apparently a lot of people had zeroed for a few days in Lake Tahoe to see the fireworks over the lake for Independence Day.
After a midmorning snack, we began a long descent. The trail crossed all sorts of landscapes: sharp tumbled boulders, wooded flatlands, clusters of lakes, fields of wildflowers, and everything in between. I couldn’t believe the variety in flowers, and kept stopping to look. After a week indoors, the beauty of the landscape around me was overwhelming.
Zach and I both felt exhausted that day, although I was in good spirits. Despite how much we felt like we were slogging, when we finally stopped for the night, we realized that we had gone 21 miles. After the Sierra, everything seemed like a breeze!
We camped on an uneven slope, because there weren’t many good spots around. Zach and I intended to read that night, but our out-of-shape bodies got the best of us. We laid down on our sleeping pads in exhaustion, and my eyes started fluttering closed. “What time is it?” I murmured.
Zach checked his watch. “8:30.”
And then we both passed out.