Pear Lake to Lake Sally Ann – 10.8 miles
I didn’t rush myself out of camp on my second day on the Pacific Crest Trail. I hadn’t slept well during the night but ended up sleeping in until almost 8. I knew I needed to ease myself into the routines of the trail. Thankfully I’d had enough foresight to plan for a shorter mileage day. I’d be taking all day to complete the 11 miles to Lake Sally Ann.
The morning was a bit cool, though I could feel the humidity building already.
The day started with a climb to reach the ridge above Pear Lake. As I worked my way through the forest I’d get the occasional glimpse of the lake. The next few miles were a gentle roller-coaster through forested and rocky terrain on the east slope of the ridge. At one point I found myself hiking through a rocky slope filled with boulders bigger than cars! After that I had to contend with a half dozen steep switchbacks to pass over to the western side of the ridge. I’d later realize that this northern section of the PCT involved a lot of criss-crossing along ridge lines.
I reached the high point on that particular ridge by mid-morning and then started a gradual descent as the ridge and trail curved to the west and then again turned north. I then had a short climb to reach meadowy Saddle Gap. I took my lunch break just past the gap, then hiked a steady downhill to Pass Creek campground. I took another break there to soak my feet and refill my water.
The heat was starting to get relentless and I had 4 miles of uphill climb ahead. I plugged in my earphones, put on some tunes and got moving. Grooving to the music helped to keep my feet going. The trail climbed up and up, climbing through forest, then meadows, and then rocky bowls. Thankfully the sky cleared out offering up some great views of the mountains around me.
Finally I rounded a bend to the lovely view of Lake Sally Ann. The small lake sits within a cirque, partially surrounded by steep rocky walls. There was a waterfall flowing down one wall, and there were pockets of snow melting into the lake. I found myself a really nice campsite within view of the lake. It was also in full view of the trail. I had a bit of a look around but the other decent, more private spots had all been claimed.
After the intense heat of the day I was glad to have a chance to rinse off a bit. The lake was really really cold so it was a quick dip before laying out on the warm rocks to dry.
As I got my camp settled out I saw that a Forest Service Ranger was also staying at the lake. I chatted with her a bit and learned about some of her jobs as a backcountry ranger, including clearing trails of debris, advising hikers of Leave No Trace, packing out trash, and digging new privy holes. It was really nice to meet a Ranger in person and be able to thank her for all her work to keep the trail in such great shape.
Unsurprisingly a thunder storm was building to the north. I kept an eye on the clouds as they moved closer. The wind picked up a bit and I started thinking about moving my tent to a more sheltered (but slopey) site. But just like the day before the storm blew off in a different direction. Whew!
There were lots of other campers at the lake and yet with everyone tucked back into their own site it barely felt like anyone was around. I had my dinner as the late afternoon shadows stretched out. I stayed out for a bit after the sun disappeared behind the high walls of the cirque watching the colours shift and change on the distant hills. I slept well that night in the quite and cool air beside the alpine lake.