Day One – 15 July 2018 – Sunday
Kingsbury North Trailhead (7769ft; mile 76) to Big Meadow (7651ft; mile 105.3)
35.3 miles today; 35.3 miles total
I forget how to be around people sometimes. I notice this the most when I am in nature and I find it challenging to have conversations with strangers. Even when I find the topic interesting. But also in nature is where my brain calms down and I can be at ease again. There is little that is more healing than walking until my feet are numb and my legs want to buckle. Day one and I am happy in my solitude.
I wanted to sleep in this morning, but I made myself wake up. I do not have profiles of the trail, but I vaguely remember Patty and Jeff (my Truckee friends I met on Mt Kilimanjaro) mentioning a big climb at Heavenly, and I started seven miles further back than them on the Daggett Trail alternate. The climb was not too challenging on fresh feet and the shaded morning light. I reached Star Lake at noon like clockwork to my agenda. Unfortunately a big ominous cloud dampened my swimming fun. I hiked on and decided not to let it prevent my summit of Freel Peak, which I summited like a champ! Freel Peak was only one mile off trail, but it sure want easy. About 1,000 feet of climbing relatively straight up. There were many day hikers out for this peak. I even meet a couple at the top who are leaving soon for Tanzania to summit Kilimanjaro. The woman saw Kilimanjaro on my hat. Nature is where these happy moments of serendipity always happen to me.
I have passed many mountain bikers and a few day hikers/runners, but it was not until returning to trail after Freel that I finally ran into other thru hikers. There was a couple who started today at Mott’s Peak, a girl who started from Kingsbury South this morning, and a section hiker getting off at Grassy Lake later today. I saw a bunch more people with large packs at Armstrong Pass, but they did not seem to want outside company. Freel Peak had the most day hikers too. Apparently a popular peak to bag while in Tahoe.
I am loving the scenery. Though my body feels out of shape. And I already find my food disagreeable, a sad lingering dilemma since hiking the PCT. My go to hiking foods are relatively unpalatable compared to the fresh vegetable-filled life I have adapted to since moving to California. The problem is that I used to not mind. Trail food is fuel. It is not supposed to taste good. I eat to shove calories into my body so I can continue hiking. Last weekend while hiking at Whitney Portal, there was a sign asking whether the reader sought an enjoyable experience or suffering. The prompt was to determine whether to attempt the Whitney summit, the summit path equalling suffering. For me though, they are two of the same.
When I decided to stop for the night, it was not my ideal camp site. I had wanted to reach Round Lake for the night, but I was side tracked by a couple at the Big Meadow Trailhead who are section hiking the TRT. They wanted to ask questions about the section I had just hiked. I was happy for the conversation. But I already lost time checking out Luther Campground, which was a mile off trail bust. For overflow camping, it was plum crowded. So I hiked as far as I could, but once it is dark, I stop. So I stopped for the night just beyond Big Meadow where the trees start again. It wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst either. I slept quite well.