June 18th- 6 miles, camping near Carson River
Art and I had a wonderfully relaxing day at Northern Kennedy Meadows, eating and napping. I could’ve napped for a whole week, I was so tired. Since the resort didn’t have working Wi Fi, Art and I drove 30 miles east of the PCT to the little town of Bridgeport on Highway 395. We went to breakfast at the Hays Street Cafe, which was delicious!
Next, we went to a coffee shop that had Wi Fi so I could upload my Vimeo videos and my journals for the last section.
We didn’t get back to the trailhead until 3:30, and I was so tempted to just turn around and stay another night with Art and Pepper in town. It was so hard to say goodbye. We tried to make it quick, but of course we couldn’t.
After making this video on the trail, Art drove the car around the road to catch me one more time where the trail crossed it. That was all I needed to start getting teary eyed. It’s always so quiet after someone you love drops you off at the trail and you head out into the wilderness. It’s just the void of them not being near you is so apparent.
The hike was beautiful all afternoon. I had planned on doing eight miles, but after sloshing through more snow then I expected, I felt like calling it a night early.
I made a little fire while I tried to organize my food. I’m carrying so much, it’s impossible to fit it all in my bear canister.
While back at the resort, I got a look at myself in the mirror at was shocked to see how much weight I’d already lost. I looked like a starvation victim with bones showing in my chest and back, and my arms and hips thinner than I think they’ve ever been in my life. I didn’t think I’d loose this much so quickly and it has me a little concerned. Art and I went through the resort market picking out foods high in protein, fat, and carbs to add to my diet. I’ve been forcing myself to snack today, even when I’m not hungry, on seeds and dried fruit. Tonight I had a salami and cheese tortilla wrap as an appetizer before my home-assembled ramen dinner. I have cookies sitting next to me as I write this, and I really should eat them, but I just can’t get motivated. I’m having tea instead.
June 19th- 24 miles, camping on ridge before Highway 4
I think Toiyabe might be my new favorite national forest. I never got tired of the red rock mountains or the barren mountain tops or the contrasting colors from green trees and grass to bright little flowers. The mountains here have a southwest look to them. I wish I knew more about geology because I’m sure these rocks have some great story to them.
The trail climbed up and down through forest and meadow. The trees remind me of a Salvador Dali painting because they grow in a bent shape to align with the hillside.
All day today my body ached, especially my feet and hips. I’ve noticed that as I loose more weight, my backpack becomes more and more uncomfortable. I’ve had to get creative and use my fleece hat and neck gaiter, my gloves, and my wool socks as padding under the straps.I took a longer than usual lunch break rolling out my feet and eating as much as I could stand.
While looking over my maps and my guidebook last night, I realized that I either have to put in some big miles to reach my next resupply stop before they close for the weekend or take an extra zero day. In order to make it to the post office in Echo Lake by 2 pm on Saturday, I would have to do 26 miles today, 26 miles tomorrow and 18 miles on Saturday, starting at 5am. Since I didn’t make it 26 miles today, I’m debating whether I should just accept another zero day, but possibly take it in South Lake Tahoe instead. At least there I could have amenities and a solid rest in a bed. There’s no guarantee that Echo Lake even has beds available because they’re a summer camp facility for kids. If they DO have beds, though, it’d be way cheaper and logistically easier! Argh, choices.
I groaned pretty much the entire last five miles today. I’m just aching so much. Looking ahead at how many more miles I have until Cascade Locks, I started to get really intimidated. What if my body aches the entire way? What if I loose interest and would just rather be comfortable at home for the rest of the summer? I’d feel like a quitter, even though I know it’s just a hike. I always have the choice to just do what I want, including go home, and having that option so accessible makes sticking to a tough goal even harder.
June 20th- 25 miles, camping above Lost Lakes
This forest continues to enchant me with its colors, forests, open spaces, and dramatic mountains. I slept in again and didn’t start hiking until 8:30. I need to figure out a new hiking plan, I think. Before I began this big hike, I assumed it would be just like when I section hiked. On those shorter hikes, I would wake up early without an alarm and hike at a comfortable speed all day. Now, I’ve got a schedule to stick to if I’m going to reach my goal of Cascade Locks by mid – August. I know I sleep better in the morning, so hiking later and sleeping in makes sense, but I don’t really like hiking until sunset.
The birds all through central California are the most vocal I’ve heard anywhere, and they all have such different bird calls. Some sound like little alarm clocks, others sound like they’re gargling, and I often hear a particular kind of bird asking for a “CHEESEburger.” One kind of bird seems to be having a conversation with itself: “Will you eat this beetle? Yes, I’ll eat that beetle!” I’ve tried so hard to figure out which sounds go with which birds I’ve seen.
As I looked at the map, I had to wonder about a hill I was approaching named “The Nipple.” Rarely are any of these hills named and for one to be named after a body part seemed especially funny; and then I saw it:
The wind is gusting rather fiercely on and off this evening. I’ve battened down the hatches by placing rocks on top of my tent stakes. I hope they stick!
June 21st- 19.5 miles, staying at the Apex Motel in So. Lake Tahoe
After thinking about all the things I could do in South Lake Tahoe, I convinced myself to take my zero there instead of in Echo Lake. I need to buy some gear, like new trekking poles, fuel, repair goo, water treatment, etc. Also, this will be the last major town until Ashland, Oregon.
Even though I’ve been excited all day to come into town, I just couldn’t move as fast as I wanted. My feet are so bruised on the bottoms and I’ve had to take way more breaks than usual. I stopped every time I came across a rock or log that looked like a decent seat.
After Carson Pass, I descended into a huge meadow with the Truckee River winding through it. The mosquitoes were awful, so I almost didn’t take the side trip to see the old Meiss cabin. It was built by Louis Meiss in 1878 after he immigrated from Germany. A historical society has renovated his cabin and put up an informational plaque.
It was slow going all afternoon. I fell in a huge mud puddle while trying to cross a stream. (I didn’t take a picture because all I wanted was to keep moving.) I lost the trail twice and had to look for trail markers nailed to trees. And I had to pick my way through a very steep, two-mile long rocky trail downhill to Highway 50.
Lucky for me, I had no trouble getting a lift into town! First, Chaz picked me up and dropped me off at a hot dog stand on the outskirts of town. The dog-seller was so excited about the trail that he upgraded my purchase to a meal and gave me a drink and chips for free! Then, a former PCT hiker named Dave gave me a lift to the town center. Dave drove me around, showing me where all the different shops were and helped me find the most affordable hotel. THANK YOU, CHAZ & DAVE!!
June 22nd, Zero Day in Tahoe
Oh, to lounge all morning in a soft, warm hotel bed after cold, windy nights in a tent. Heavenly! I made coffee and chowed down on Honey Nut Cherrios with half and half. Having bought Epsom salts and disposable aluminum pans, I treated myself to a foot soak.
After a good deal of pampering, coffee, and watching Contact on SyFy, I finally roused to do chores and errands. On my way to the laundromat, I ran into Lorax and T-Fox. They were loaded down with groceries from the discount store. They’d bought pints of ice cream for 50 cents and other cheap goodies.
The Lake of the Sky Outfitters offers PCT hikers not only gear, but they hand you a cold drink and take your picture right when you enter their door. They also have a hiker lounge with Wi Fi and snacks and will watch your pack while you run errands around town.