I finally took Nachito on his first backpacking trip. We went to Desolation Wilderness, and following a friend suggestion we hiked the Pacific Crest Trail from from Echo Lake to Lake Aloha. There’s a boat taxy that takes you from one end of Echo Lakes to the other, and that shortens the hike quite a bit, allowing us to reach a fairly remote location with a real wilderness feel to it without having to walk all the distance.
Echo Lakes are beautiful, they are tucked in a smooth granite valley carved and polished by the force of glaciers. Cabins are splattered along the shoreline, most of them only accessible by boat. It was a nice way to start the day.
The first hour walking was the most difficult. I was carrying most of the group gear, Nachito only had to carry his sleeping bag, sleeping mat, his own water and an empty pot. It felt pretty lightweight to me, but turned out it was somewhat heavy for him. It didn’t help that the first section of the trail was all uphill and with little shade. He probably asked “how far are we?” a hundred times and complained about the weight of his pack every few minutes. I was starting to think this had been a bad idea, but as the trail leveled, we entered the forest, which provided some shade, and enticed by the views of the Crystal Range and the proximity to the lake, the hike became much easier.
The water level at Lake Aloha was surprisingly low, which increased the number of rock outcroppings above its surface. It was fun to swim from rock to rock and walk along the shorelines, jumping over the straits, trying to find a path without touching the water. After having lunch and taking a long rest, we headed to the northern shore, our final destination, where we set our tent, prepared dinner, watched the sunset, and waited for the night to fall.
This day we walked about 5 miles total. We had dehydrated noodles for dinner, which Nachito devoured. He was starving and ended up eating half of my ration. We spent the rest of the evening telling stories while watching the stars populate the firmament. The night sky in the Sierra is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, but Nachito was cold and scared of the dark and just wanted to get back inside the tent!
The second day we walked our way back, but to make things a bit more interesting we took a fork of the trail and stopped by Lake of the Woods. At some point we must have missed the main trail, because we got lost, but we navigated our way down to the lake scrambling some rocks.
Lake of the Woods was gorgeous. Unlike Aloha, the lake was full and the water here was warmer. It’s surrounded by forests, but its shoreline is still spotted by granite boulders from which to jump in the water. This was probably the highlight of our trip.
The hike back to the boat was a little longer and we were tired, but most of it was downhill, so it proceeded without difficulties. The trail was fairly busy and Nachito was probably the youngest kid we met. Most hikers were very supportive, cheering him up, giving him chocolates. Overall I think it was a great success. Nachito had a great time, and on the way back he asked: “Dad, can we do this every weekend?”