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71. Echo Lake (06/19/98)

Hikers (4): Eugene, Peter, Russ, Steve
Distance: 7 miles
Rating: 3 difficulty, 9 beauty
Park info: Desolation Wilderness near South Lake Tahoe

Write-up by Peter

This was the first hike of the big Tahoe-fest weekend. The four of us had driven up the night before and promptly proceeded to get thoroughly plastered at The Man's Tahoe Love Shack. The details are somewhat blurry, but none of us who were there will ever forget Esteban's transformation into the one-eyed drooling Quasimodo ("Why don't I have a valentine???"). It was not a pretty sight, folks! Oh, by the way, just in case anyone ever asks you: Vodka and caffeine-free Coke is the vilest drink in the history of mankind.

1, 2, 3, ... INCH!

After getting about 3 hours sleep, we dragged our carcasses off to the hills to hike to Echo Lake. There was a ton of snow on the ground, and we were not sure how far we'd get, but we decided to give it the old INCH try.

In the snow at the trailhead: Esteban, Peter, and Eugene

The first part of the trail was relatively straightforward: just follow the hundreds of footprints in the snow down the hill to the dam at the end of Echo Lake. We were slipping and sliding about all over the place. I could tell The Man was not happy. Time to introduce L.A.-boy to one of the great pleasures of winter: snowball fight!

We stopped briefly at the dam to take some pictures and enjoy the beauty of the crystal-clear lake.

At the dam: Rusty and Eugene (nice headphones!)

After the dam, the trail was basically a straight flat line around the perimeter of the lake. It's probably an easy hike in the late summer, but with all the snow on the ground, it was slow going. It took almost 2 hours to get to the far end of the lake. At this point, a lot of the snow had begun to melt. At first, we tried all sorts of gyrations and maneuvers to avoid getting our feet wet, but after a while we admitted defeat and just sloshed through the runoff.

Rusty and I stopped at the edge of the Desolation Wilderness to take a couple more pictures. Quasi had gone up ahead and Eugene was somewhere behind him. The trail was getting harder to follow and it was not obvious where it was leading us. This was probably not a good place to get separated. We pressed on and found the other two had stopped a little further ahead. By mutual agreement, we decided we had gone far enough and turned around and headed back.

Peter at the edge of the Desolation Wilderness

Rusty and I found a huge rock overlooking the lake and stopped there for lunch. The other two kept going. What a great place to eat -- clean, fresh, mountain air, a gorgeous view of the lake and the snow-covered hills, and beautiful sunshine -- what more could anyone ask for? I wanted to never leave!

But all good things must come to an end, so we eventually packed up and began the trek back. It seemed that we had ended up on a different trail than before, but it was leading us in the right direction, so we weren't worried.

The walk back seemed a lot longer than the outbound trip. I guess the altitude takes it out of you. The Man was not enjoying walking through the melting snow on the rocky trail. He called it the Hike From Hell! I wouldn't go that far, but at that point my ankles were certainly taking a beating and I would have liked to get the thing over with.

After what seemed like an eternity, we made it back to the dam. From there it was an uphill mile back to the trailhead (ugh!), and then off to hit the showers and then the casino buffet. A good ending to a great day!

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