After two long hitches with a summit of Mt. Whitney smashed in between, our days off in South Lake Tahoe were fantastic and left us well rested and ready for another great hitch on the HT National Forest. We set out for Highland Lakes near Ebbetts Pass and met our PCTA contact, Justin, at the trailhead. We followed him down a rough and curvy gravel road to the campground at the lakes. There was nobody around and we set up our camp in a hail storm along with the most signiﬁcant rain we’ve seen all season, combined. Our plan was to spend the ﬁrst half of the hitch based out of the campground and work on the connector trail to the PCT. We would then break camp and hike in a few miles for the second half of the hitch.
The plan worked really well and we spent the ﬁrst few days brushing and ﬁxing problem areas along the connector trail. The mornings ﬁlled the valley with fog and gave all the plants and wet gleam that was beautiful in the early morning light. Towards the end of the week, more and more people began to show up and by friday, the entire campground was full. We thought it was strange that anyone but a trail crew would drive way out to this campground but we soon found out that the deer season was starting on saturday. It made us all a bit nervous and we tried to guess how many guns were in the campground with us on Friday night. There were at least 50 hunters in the campground and we decided that each one of them must have about 2 guns on average.
Not the most excited feeling we’ve had considering some of the conversations we overheard. Hunter #1: “I know I’m dumb dude. You can say it, I already know it.” Hunter #2: “No man, you’re…….well…… Hunter #1: “It’s alright man, I already know it.” Hunter #2: “Yeah…..I still love you man. Lets go get that deer tomorrow.” Such were the people surrounding us our last day in the campground After we moved camp up to the PCT, things were much more peaceful. We started working on a massive landslide section of trail that had been washed out from the storms earlier in the week. Most of the mountainside was hard volcanic rock that was all rotten and crumbly but still holding on in many places. We needed to make a new bench cut for about a ¼ mile section of trail. We literally were cutting the bench of out solid bedrock for nearly 4 days. Rough work that makes your hands ring and forces you to spend hours chipping away at solid volcanic rock only to gain a few feet of tread. It was the most diﬃcult and most frustrating work of the season thus far, and our tools were letting us know their frustration by breaking on us throughout the week.
By the end of the hitch we had ﬁnished the bedrock section and brushed out nearly 4 miles of trail, all the while trying to be as orange as possible so we wouldn’t get shot by the intelligent hunters. It was another great location with beautiful views and amazing streams and rivers for our ﬁnal hitch on the Humbolt-Toiyabe.