Mike 1092.3 Echo Lakes/South Lake Tahoe to mile 1195.4 Sierra City
Avoiding the distractions of big towns and other hikers.
Day Fifty-two: 23 June 2015
Start: HM 1092.3
End: HM 1101.8 Susie Lake
GPS Point: 38.88244, -120.12552
Day Total: 9.5 miles
Water at mile South Lake Tahoe, mile 1101.6 Susie Lake outlets
Endless and I decided the next few days can be pretty flexible on our path to Auburn to pick up S&M. Which was perfect for me getting to sleep in this morning! I have slowly become more and more tired over this last stretch with the longer miles, constant town stops, and mosquito infestation. Plus, after the 44 mile day, my feet needed a true rest.
We went to an eatery called Ernie’s Cafe for a big breakfast. It is cleverly located across the street from a place called Bert’s Cafe. Endless was astounded by my appetite. I ate a normal breakfast of French toast, eggs, and bacon, followed by an order of biscuits and gravy. I even drank this special roast coffee that was probably the best coffee I have ever tasted. Granted my taste palate has pretty low standards these days. I think it was a reasonable amount considering by 10 AM on a normal hiking day I have already consumed 2000 some odd calories. After eating, we stopped by the outfitters again and I grabbed my pack. There were load of hikers around. Most had just gotten in off trail. Or around the fire closure detour. There were about ten packs lined up outside the door. I saw Nips again and Bear Snack and a few others we had passed. I had things to do and went to sit at Peet’s Coffee for a lot of organizing and planning ahead. I was updating documents, filling in my patchy journal, making phone calls, eating grocery store Chinese self-serve bar, and further relaxing.
After way too long at the cafe, we hitched back to Echo Lakes Chalet from a man named Chris and his two boys. Their minivan was filled with gardening mulch and plants. A summer project in the works. So generous to drive us the whole way! And a pleasant ride. The little boys were so smart and well behaved.
Back at the Chalet, I drank a soda and ate a sticky bun. We hit the trail around 5 PM. Echo Lake was beautiful. The walk around was amazing. And the tiny little cabins were sites of envy for me. Those two or so miles took way longer than normal with the slow stroll to take it all in. Lake Aloha was also really awesome. Tons of tiny rock islands. The sun was setting between two mountains. We passed a few more lakes on our short distance to camp and stopped at Susie Lake outlet. There have to be at least twenty people camped here. Most have hammocks. Very strange. We almost didn’t find a spot.
We hiked very near Heavenly Valley Ski Area while in Echo Lakes. As well as Sierra At Tahoe Ski Area. I have skiing on the brain again.
Tahoe is a beautiful place.
Day Fifty-three: 24 June 2015
Start: HM 1101.8
End: HM 1135.9 Five Lakes Creek
GPS Point: 39.17228, -120.25779
Day Total: 34.1 miles
Water at mile 1101.6 Susie Lake, mile 1118.6 Richardson Lake, mile 1135.9 Five Lakes Creek
Today I passed Nips and actually took time to chat with him. He is from Fort Collins in Colorado. What a coincidence. He told me about the hikers that have been in the same bubble as him. They are all new names. There were also Tequila Jack and Crinkle, out on a short Sobo section. Tequila Jack is promoting the PCT class movie. He put together the 2011 video (https://vimeo.com/73472150). He said passing they were passing 30-40 PCTers a day the last several days. Unbelievable to think so many are hiking just off from us that we never cross paths. As a promise to promote the 2015 class video, all 2015 PCTers should email their real name and trail name to LoveThePCT@gmail.com. They will send a reminder at some point to email your top 100 photos from the hike this year. I also met Hand Walker and Snipe, two guys that Endless met when he first started.
I had a great 6:20 AM start today. I was so proud of myself. My mornings have been slow lately. But I overturned all early morning progress by taking a two hour lunch by a lake this afternoon. C’est la vie!
When hiking long hours with only yourself as company, you have a lot of time to mull things over. I played this reel in my head hundreds of miles ago, but today it came back to mind. I am a list person. And while meeting all these people on the PCT, I began to think of myself in list form as a “this is who I am.” There is the poor decisions list, the achievements list, the ambitions list, the quick facts list, and others. I have wondered if I am only able to play one movie at a time, but I realize now that each list combined makes up the whole. Each, like the different pixel color layers in a photograph, are all required to see the whole image. To the point, I have decided to throw out my agenda. I will continue to update it, but I want more flexible day to day decision making options. What if I want to nero or zero at a lake? Or I decide to hike 50 miles today and 3 tomorrow? An ever changing flux of options is my agenda now.
Skiing back in mind, we are in the Alpine Meadows Ski Area, and passed near Homewood Ski Resort. My last spring days on the slope were the end of April, but it seems so long ago now.
We were hiking on a rim today and saw the most beautiful sunset. With a view, the setting sun is irresistible. Tonight’s was coupled with wispy clouds to capture the fading colors and a deep blue sky for contrast. Mesmerizing. I also had a moment where I was hiking atop the ridge and stopped to take a panorama. As I put my camera away, I suddenly saw a coyote. It must have been as surprised by me as I was by it. I snapped some photos as it hurriedly scampered off the ridge and away from me. It reminds me that I saw this strange bird this morning. It had a fantail like a turkey but looked completely different. Relatively small but a round, plumb body, with white tipped tail feathers, and a red patch near its head. I cannot remember if the fave was red, or it had a gobbler, or what. I wish I had gotten a photograph.
Again tonight there are heaps of people at the camp site. It is crazy full. I cannot believe how many we are seeing. This is incredible.
Feet sore and tired. Falling asleep.
Going to Auburn.
Day Fifty-four: 25 June 2015
Start: HM 1135.9
End: HM 1157.3 I-80 Rest Stop
GPS Point: 39.345150, -120.338359
Day Total: 21.4 miles
Water at mile 1135.9 creek, mile 1144.9 stream, mile 1157.3 I-80 Rest Stop
I might be on the start of a ski resort freak out. It is becoming an incessant topic in my brain. Today we neared Donner Ski Ranch, Sugar Bowl, Boreal Ski Area, and Auburn Ski Club Trails. While heading to Auburn, we drove by Soda Springs Ski Area and Royal Gorge Ski Area. I cannot stop thinking about these places. I have premature powder fever. California did not even have powder last season. Ugh…
The theme of Tahoe is becoming the amount of people. The were lts of people today. Day and week hikers galore. A group of three men told me I was 16th PCTer he met today. We saw about seven hikers at the rest stop and four others on trail. But never enough to suggest such numbers. I imagine there are a few hundred of us all within a narrow range of each other, all moving at approximately the same distances per day. Forever offset by a handful of miles. It is strange.
Endless and I made it to the Donner Pass I-80 rest stop about 4 PM. After a slight confusion on location, S&M swooped in to pick us up and we happily chatted away for the hour drive to Auburn, CA. Our visit just begun.
Just the few hours we had tonight were so wonderful! S&M and Whiskey Nips live together in the house of Whiskey Nips’ father, Bill. His girlfriend, Debi, and Bill had grilled chicken in bbq sauce ready to serve when we arrived. S&M then made Pad Thai! So much delicious food! We quickly crowed down. I want to eat forever. Their friend, Chuck, also came over. His added company balanced out an evening of great conversation and banter.
Bill is an incredibly spirited and interesting man. Possibly along the vague description of conspiracy theorist, libertarian. We talked about his two solar heated bathtub “pools” in the backyard. The pond and water rights in his area. Trail life. Ultra running and the Western States 100. And so much more. I truly thought the six of us made an engaging bunch.
After things wound down, the three of us relaxed on the couch and reveled in the simple pleasures of being in a house. Despite my stay at Betsy’s in Wrightwood, this is really my first time in a house. How I missed the luxury! Walking around inside without socks, a hot shower and accessible toilet, seats and couches for sitting on, cold water at my command. It is drastic change even to the hotels and other town stops. No loitering guilt, public exposure, closing times, or competition for resources with other hikers. It is simple, homey, and relaxing.
We were up way too late. Curled up on the couches in our PJ’s, Endless having S&M thread a hair braid. The extra round of supper and ice cream. Like a true girls’ night sleepover. Haha!
Best town stop!!!
Day Fifty-five: 26 June 2015
Start: HM 1157 Donner Pass I-80
End: HM 1159 near Boy Scout group
GPS Point: 39.35501, -120.35477
Day Total: 2 miles
Water at mile Auburn and Donner Pass I-80 TH
After the calm of relaxing in a super comfortable home, we realized we had spent the whole morning lounging with zero progress towards our chores. Bill and Debi fixed us a delicious breaky of veggie eggs, sausages, cantaloupe, and rolls. I slept in super late and rolled out just in time to eat. While splayed out on the couches in super vegetable mode, I think the three of us had simultaneous but independent thoughts of how nice it would be to rest the whole day. A quick glance around at the obvious lack of motivation to run back to trail informed our decision to zero today after all. Or nero rather, as we would have to at least get to trail tonight. Our decision made, we did laundry and then headed to town.
Our first stop was at the Auburn Club Car. I had a burger, despite wanting a giant salad (poor choice on my part), so I could had their sweet potato fries. So amazing! Some of the best sweet potato fries I have ever eaten. The perfect combination of hot gooey sweet potato interior to a slightly crispy exterior. And the chipotle ranch dip was the perfect condiment. I will dream of those fries. I also drank about seven or eight glasses of Arnold Palmer. What a lunch!
After stuffing our faces a second time for the day, we wondered around and visited the sporting store. Cool connection here. This is the weekend of the Western States 100. It begins in Truckee and ends in Auburn. The owner has a friend who has ran several times in that race and said she is on the PCT right now. The cool part is that Endless and I literally just met her yesterday on our way to Dinner Pass. Small world. Even smaller on the growing PCT front. The owner also had a pair of Altra Lone Peaks that a guy on the PCT had just replaced. That pair made it 1000 miles. Also a coincidence that this is the fourth Auburn person on the PCT (S&M, Whiskey Nips, a girl we met going into Echo Lakes, and now this anonymous guy). I love my Altra Lone Peaks, but I am getting to the end of my second pair. His only survived that long because he used a shoe goo that plastics the edging back together. The mesh uppers are just not quite PCT hardy. Though I will proudly state that my pair from ultra running last summer must have had easily 800+ miles on them, before I took them on the first 100 miles of the PCT this summer. Amazing shoes all around!
Anyways, after shoe bantering, we all headed to this massage parlor. I was set on getting a full body massage. They had a $30 hour long foot and body deal. [Cue the heavenly trumpets!] I was so delighted. S&M and Endless opted for 30 minute options. I went in first and at one point while on the verge of slumber, I heard the woman giving a massage next to me snicker off and on. Then I heard what sounded like a high pitched stifled whinnying noise as “Hoo hoo hoo.” I looked over, and to my surprise, it was Endless. He was barely containing his fits of laughter as the foot massage sent him into a tickle fit. As a promise, you can also follow his blog (https://establishinganewbaseline.wordpress.com). I am mentioned there a few times as well. 🙂
On the way back to Kate’s house, we stopped for ice cream, Goodwill, and the grocery. Endless modeled a new shirt for us. Goodwill liked the photos on my Instagram. And Grocery Outlet provided WAY more food than necessary for the day and half into Sierra City. Not sure what I was thinking. This is my first Grocery Outlet encounter and man would I eat like a queen if they had those for produce, spices, and baked goods…
Bill and Debi were waiting on us when we returned. They continued their incredible span of generosity to drive us back to Donner Pass. I am glad they made plans to continue into Truckee for supper so the drive wasn’t a complete waste for them. 1100 miles into this trip and still the people I encounter are filled with unbelievable amounts of kindness on us hiker trash.
Once back at the PCT trail, we realized Endless and I would be repeating a mile if trail across the I-80 section. No matter, our plan tonight was simply to find a campsite. After getting away from the noise of interstate traffic and daylight disappearing quickly from the sky, we settled on a flat spot among dead tree limbs and pine cones. Realizing we were all really full still from our gluttonous side trip, we pretty much headed straight to sleep.
Unfortunately the mosquitoes are out tonight. My short reprieve over, the pesky daemons back with a fervor, I angrily am trying to fall asleep.
Nice day back on trail.
Day Fifty-six: 27 June 2015
Start: HM 1159
End: HM 1184.7 campsites near reservoir
GPS Point: 39.51274, -120.54003
Day Total: 25.7 miles
Water at mile 1167 White Rock Creek, mile 1179.3 Mule Ears Creek, mile 1184.2 Bald Ridge Creek
Today I met Ram and Cool Whip, two separate PCT hikers. As well as Shannon and and her husband. I stopped and chatted with Shannon. She is doing a three week trip while her two sons and husband each came out for a week with her. Incredible! I wish more people had wanted to join me on this trip. But I understand the prisoning nature of work life. Fortunately I have been able to hike with some awesome, likeminded individuals who I met on trail.
Despite the day of rest yesterday, I did not leave camp until 8:30 AM. Turns out we camped directly by a group of Boy Scouts last night. They were struggling with the immediate hill we started up this morning. We immediately hiked over a missable pass and an established wood hut. There were heaps of people camped nearby! Despite wanting more than two miles yesterday evening, I am glad we didn’t try to camp further up trail where we would have been among hordes of non-PCTers. At mile 1160.8 was the Peter Grubb Hut shelter and outhouse. It had a cool design with the hut door above ground and a ladder entry for winter conditions. The outhouse was similarly designed. I didn’t actually go inside, but Endless said it was pretty neat.
Today the Western States 100 began in Truckee and the winners will get into Auburn tomorrow morning. I don’t think any of us was actually invested, but we momentarily considered staying longer in Auburn to check out the race.
Since we covered two miles last night, we made it to camp early tonight. Super nice. A short 26 mile day. We probably should have aimed for more miles, but it was fine.
I felt better today than I have in a long while. Why has it taken so long to get a massage? I still have numbness in a few toes, but that has been the case since Tehachapi. More massages are definitely in my future. It was a good reminder how much I need to be more diligent in my pre-bedtime and wake up leg massaging and stretching routines.
Life is good.
Day Fifty-seven: 28 June 2015
Start: HM 1184.7
End: HM 1205.3 near dirt road
GPS Point: 39.62346, -120.66725
Day Total: 20.6 miles
Water at mile 1185.6 Bear Valley Springs, mile 1195.2 Sierra City, mile 1202.7 Sierra Buttes Spring
This morning we had a short 10.7 miles into Sierra City. None of us had battery power on any of our devices. Apparently nothing charged correctly at Kate’s and Bill’s. We all needed some juice time. The store is the hiker hangout, so we dropped off packs, plugged in electronics, and headed to second breakfast. We ate at Red Moose Inn Cafe. I ate the Triple Threat: 3 eggs, 3 slices of bacon, 3 sausages, hash browns, 2 slices of French toast, and orange juice. So good!!! I love breakfast. Also had a Butterfingers milkshake, lime soda, and lime Powerade at the grocery. This afternoon was boiling hot and I needed electrolyte replenishing.
There were tons of people at the store. Town stops truly reveal how many hikers are traveling in the same block. Though I was surprised how many made plans to stay overnight. I saw Ram, Kay Cats and Longjump, Cool Whip, Lone Wolf (who ended up hitching with us), and One of Us.
We acquired two lucky hitches today for going in and out of town. First were the two guys from last night. There were hiking a section and this was their endpoint. One had a vehicle parked at Hwy 49. Then, heading back, there was a guy with a baby boy who was on his way back to a fishing hole after the baby finished his nap. Love quick and easy hitches!
Life is good. I am really loving not rushing. Decisions on a whim for whether to pull big miles, or not. No overwhelming deadline. Feels good and much more relaxing. I still have the itch for forward movement. I want to hike thirty miles a day or more. I love the daily challenge. But I also feel that desire and motivation more strongly now that I am no longer measuring against my daily allotted quota. Life shouldn’t be a chore and I feel great about removing my end date goals.