June 23rd- 7 miles, camping at Susie Lake
People might think that town stops mean rest and relaxation for hikers. In reality, there are usually so many chores to be done that napping, etc. doesn’t happen as much as you might expect. I was really hoping to get a nap in before hitting the trail this afternoon, but there were just too many things to do. I had to make phone calls and send emails, check my bank account and bills, organize my gear, fix my tent, duct tape my pack, shower, eat breakfast, mail home my bear canister, and eat lunch. Whew… even now, it seems like a lot. I still didn’t manage to contact my cell carrier to figure out my data plan. It’ll be postponed again.
I really enjoyed my stay at the Apex Inn. My super clean room had a mini fridge, a microwave and a coffeemaker, all of which I took full advantage of. I especially loved that it was within walking distance to all of the facilities and shops I needed. They Indian family that runs it were so hospitable and sweet. The hotel owner even shuttled me back to the trail today.
After checking out, I hung out at the Lake of the Sky Outfitters hiker lounge waiting for my ride to finish up his work. While there, I worked on replacing guy lines on my tent and taped up the fraying fabric on my backpack. I bought an awesome stuff sack that can double as a day pack and am using that to store my food in from now on. Lunch was a Subway sandwich. Mmm… Veggie Delight.
I rode with the owner of the Apex Inn and his two children back up to Highway 50 and the two miles to Echo Lake. He even waited to be sure I got my Echo Lake resupply package okay before he left.
I lolly gagged at the picnic table sorting my resupply food. Apparently, I never got around to putting in any dinners for this box. I looked closely at the list I made of the box contents and could see my note to myself: “Add 5 dinners.” I had to buy a bunch of top ramen from the Echo Lake Store. Bleh! Another solo lady hiker, trailname “Freedom,” was sorting her box, too. She and I took.the speedboat ferry across the lake to shave off a couple miles and just for fun.
Since I bought two new poles in Tahoe, I now have to get used to hiking with them. They’re much more secure feeling, but it’s kind of like walking with four feet instead of two. I feel a bit like a baby giraffe trying to get the swing of it.
I hiked only seven miles today and am camping next to a beautiful little lake, but it’s swarming with mosquitoes. They’re thick in the air and they’re EVERYWHERE! Every time I left and reentered my tent, I spent five minutes smashing all the buggies that snuck in. Little do they know that entering this tent is their DEATH SENTENCE. I’m like a cat, enjoying the chase and kill of its prey! Bwahhhahahaha!
June 24th- 21 miles, camping below Barker Pass
It’s funny how you can look at a mountain and get an idea of its shape, dimensions, colors and textures; and all of those things together give you a sense of character for that mountain. You think you KNOW it even because you’ve observed and admired it for so many footsteps or minutes. Then you continue to hike and you get a different perspective on the mountain. Suddenly, it’s not the same mountain you thought you knew, it’s shape is completely different than what you thought and the texture or colors change. These mountains have so much character to me, and, like a good story, the characters are always developing.
So, I guess I had a rough start to the day. I just didn’t feel good in my body, mind, or spirit. I struggled with the uphill climb and struggled with getting my pack comfortable on my sore hip. My feet were sliding around in my shoes as I went over rocky trail because I’m trying new insoles. I’m not sure if it’s my diet, all the exertion over the last month, maybe it’s dealing with the overall discomfort of my body, or maybe I’m just PMSing. I don’t know, but it’s wearing me down. I didn’t bother trying to keep up with T-Fox and Lorax as they past me this morning; I knew I just wasn’t up to it.
I felt so much better after a second breakfast of salmon wraps, Fritos, and tea. Sounds like exactly the kind of picnic my dad would have, except maybe there’d be a Boddington’s, too! I am my father’s daughter! I hiked well for several more hours and was starting to feel like myself again.
Around 2:00, the ache in my feet came back. Again, I spent the afternoon hobbling mile after mile toward camp. I dreaded taking breaks because it was so much more painful to get up again than it was to just keep moving. How can I make it another 1,030 miles like this?
Freedom, the solo hiker I met at Echo Lake, caught up with me this evening and we’re camping together tonight. She’s a a recent college graduate from Portland and is moving to Germany to manage a family farm when she finishes her hike. Which, I think, is the coolest thing ever.
June 25- 20.5 miles
I learned a very important lesson today: caffeine is essential for good hiking in the morning. I flew up Barker Pass and felt great the whole way. Along the way, I talked to a number of day and section hikers. This area is really popular and accessible for that kind of hiking.
My first view of Lake Tahoe this morning caught me by surprise. It was so beautiful and maps just can’t do it justice. It’s the most majestic lake I’ve ever seen.
The trail weaved in and out of view of the lake. I stopped around noon along a ridge because I had reception and could check my email. While waiting for a video to upload to Vimeo (which never did) I had a tuna wrap for lunch and dried fruit. I’m getting better at eating more of my food, but it’s still hard. When you’re full, you’re FULL- you’re body doesn’t want any more. It makes me sick to my stomach when I force myself to eat any more. Ahh, hiker problems.
This afternoon I ran into a big group of PCTA trail workers cleaning up the trail. They were a great group of people. They’re collecting videos of hikers saying, “I am the PCTA.” Maybe I’ll be in one of their fundraiser promos! Stay tuned to their website for my moment of fame!
The wind has been strong all day. I’m starting to think it has a vendetta against me. As it blew into the afternoon, a light thunderstorm came with it. I had to stop and change into my long johns and rain gear. Oh, I LOVE my rain gear! I was so comfortable and dry all through the showers.
According to Yogi’s PCT guidebook, there is a Sierra Club hut in the area. I thought it would be great to spend the night there, high and dry. I wouldn’t have to unpack my tent or worry about having to dry it out the following day because of rain. I reached the campsite that marks 20 miles for the day, but it was only 6:15. I sat on the ground staring at the maps; if I kept going up the ridge, I’d have to climb four and a half miles with threatening rain clouds looming over my head. I decided it would be better to chance the night in my tent down at the bottom of the climb rather than hike until 9 pm in the wind and rain. Plus, what if the hut was locked? Or if I couldn’t find it because it’s not on the trail? So, here I am, 20.5 miles for the day. I felt like I could’ve done more, but at least it gives my feet a rest.
After a dinner of Knorr’s Pasta Sides, which I’d bought at Echo Lake, three other PCT hikers showed up: Potluck, High-Robics, and Wall-E. They’re setting up camp up the hill in a more exposed area. I hope it’s not too cold there! I think I got the sweet spot protected by the trees.
The sky is now a beautiful, dynamic tangle of clouds blowing by. I’ve crawled back into my tent because it’s too cold for socializing. Since I had so much time this evening, I did more stretching and foam rolling than I think I’ve done any other night on the trail. I hope I wake up early tomorrow- no more sleeping in!
June 26th-17 miles, staying at the Peter Grub Sierra Club Hut
The wind gusted and it rained lightly on and off throughout the night, and it continued into the morning. A Canadian hiker named Early Bee hiked up the ridge with me during the morning storm. He was great to talk to and kept a good pace for me to keep up with him. He lived and worked for about a decade in Saudi Arabia, and since I’ve visited the Middle East, we had some stories to compare.
As we hiked, we came across Crusher and his friend, Section Hiker Katie. I hadn’t seen Crusher since Kennedy Meadows and was so surprised to learn he’d actually been hiking close to me the entire time. He has a wonderful blog that you can read: WesleyTrimble. Three ladies training for an ultra run approached us in their little shorts an t-shirts shivering and wet. They asked us if the weather improved further down where we’d just hiked up from. It definitely didn’t and we recommended they turn around based on how cold they looked. The wind was blowing pretty hard all along the ridge and the rain was coming down harder. Even us hikers, in our long johns and rain gear, we’re getting too cold. We all decided to head for a Sierra Club hut we’d read about in the guidebook.
Early B. and I reached the area where the hut was said to be and wandered around the hillside looking for it. Just as we were going to head on up the trail, the fog cleared for a moment and I could see the hut on the opposite side of the trail. The guidebook, which is usually dead on, had given the wrong location for the hut. I was delighted to find the runners already stoking a fire inside.
The seven of us hung out for nearly two hours, drying out and warming up, eating chocolate and drinking tea. The storm cleared up and we were able to head out again toward Donner Pass.
Even though I hadn’t done many miles, I felt so wiped out by the time I reached Highway 40 at Donner Pass. I crashed hard on some chair cushions I found near the trailhead parking lot. I pulled out all my gear and spread it out in the sunshine to dry while I ate lunch.
Crusher convinced me to stay at the next Sierra Club hut on the trail, the Peter Grub Hut. It meant I only put in 17 miles for the day, but the hut and the company had a strong pull. Turns out Steve the nurse from Michigan was there, too. It made for a fun little party! Steve finally got a trail name that’s sticking: “Knock Out.” I pride myself in giving it to him back in Tuolumne Meadows after he accidentally punched himself in the face and got a bloody nose. He had been trying to tighten cords on his pack, I think.
The hut had three rooms: a kitchen/dining room and a game room room (full of board and card games) on the first floor and an empty attic accessible by a ladder. We all slept on the floor of the attic, sleepover style.
June 27th- 23.5 miles
Sleeping in the attic of the hut was awesome except that it didn’t have any working windows to air out the hiker stench. For most of the day, I leapfrogged with T – Fox and Lorax. Update: I posted their blog incorrectly back in the Lone Pine to Reds Meadows Journal. Here it is corrected: DanTaraPCT.
I don’t think I’ve had so many ups and downs on the trail in a single day before. None of them were very bad, but it felt a bit like a roller coaster. It was a great day for loading up on caffeine and hiking to some hip hop!
There have been so many wildflowers all through the Sierras. Some are shaped like trumpets, others look like little fireworks or feather dusters. They come in all colors of the rainbow and when growing in patches together, they look just like bouquets from the flower shop. Sometimes, as I walk through the patches of colors, I feel like Dorothy in some alternate Oz universe where the enchanted poppies have been replaced by enchantING orchids, lupine, and mariposa lilies.
I’m cowboy camping under the stars. I’ve missed it: the cool air on my face, the sparkling sky above, and the anticipation of a shoot star at any moment. Tomorrow I’ll be in Sierra City and Art’s driving up to meet me. Yay!
June 28th- 11 miles, staying at Herrington’s in Sierra City
The laws of the universe must have been turned upside down because I was packed at out of camp by 6 am while T-Fox and Lorax were still eating breakfast. The thought of hot coffee drove me all morning up one last hill, down a very long mountain, and straight into Sierra City
I walked directly into the Red Moose Inn for a late breakfast and was greeted by Crusher, Half & Half (a police officer from Germany), and Liverpool. I thought Liverpool would’ve been several days ahead of me! Numerous hikers showed up throughout the day, most of whom hung out on the Country Store porch eating sandwiches and ice cream. Knock out and I enjoyed some baseball watching and a drumstick dinner from the local saloon before I headed down to Herrington’s Resort for the night. I made sure to stop by the store one last time and grab more juice, ice cream, and pudding. I must’ve been quite a sight carrying my pack, resupply box, trekking poles and groceries a half mile along Highway 49.
Art met me a few hours later and he’ll hang out with me while I take a zero tomorrow. We plan on eating lots of chip and dip from the store and I’ve got my fingers crossed for a foot massage!