I took a triple-zero when I got to South Lake Tahoe. Dan flew in to Reno and we drove to visit my Dad and Merry. Got back to Stateline and Dan handed me off to Zippy, the heart of my USASA snowboarding universe. Got to say “hey” to her Adam and Marshall, and got dog kisses from Pepper. Since I was anxious about those zeroes, Zippy put me back on the trail at Echo Lake that afternoon. Camped at Aloha Lake that night.
It’s hard to shake real life when all you do is hike and think all day: my Dad, slow death by dementia. The next few days from along the west side of Lake Tahoe helped though. I walked the backside of Alpine Meadows, one of my favorite places to snowboard. I had no idea the PCT ran just the other side, out of bounds. Huge meadows of Mule Ears in full yellow bloom. I was hot, thirsty, and tired as the trail continued past Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl and Donner Mountain. After several days I was totally sick of Mule Ears, they host hordes of nasty biting flies which had managed to turn the backs of my legs into itchy red ugliness.
Made it into Sierra City and joined a throng of hikers hanging in front of the store charging phones. “The Internet is broken,” said a local. Also no cell signal. But I got a room at Herrington’s, got clean and had a great meal, killing time till the post office opened for its daily 10-2 hours the next day. About the only time we stop long enough to have real conversations is in town. Great to see Wiki (age 17), Dana now Roadside Attraction, the Doobie Bros, Thor, Dan (Throbbing Thrillhammer), etc. I hiked out of town into a thunderstorm at 11:30 once I got my resupply package. Looked like a drunkfest was developing for the Fourth and I’d rather be in the woods.
In this area of multiple dirt road crossings and trailheads, like similar stretches, regular hikers, section hikers and day hikers join the trail for a day or days, a week, or more. Generally easy to tell the difference between thrus and others: their clothes don’t have ground in grime, the colors are still bright; they tend to look nourished as opposed to lean and stripped down; and they use city voices in the quiet and stillness. You know where this is going. I loved this stretch with its little piped springs of clear water, the lush, shady downhills, deer, rabbits, squirrels, and birds, so I shouldn’t be annoyed when just one campsite was ruined by a couple nearby who talked as if they were sitting across the table from each other in a crowded, noisy restaurant. I had to put in earplugs as I lay reading in my tent. In contrast, the next day I swam in the Feather River and camped with 6 or 7 other PCTers in perfect harmony.
I saw Travis as he was heading south and he wanted a selfie with me. We had met 2 weeks before in South Lake and had a great time at dinner talking about life with Cool Breeze. The life stories I hear out here are stunning. Travis grew up in and out of Juvie and foster homes but was saved by strong male role models and Christian faith. At 22, he has been hiking and working and finding himself. He radiates calm and goodness. It was cool to see him again on the trail filtering water.
Belden Town, midweek after a Fourth music festival was lovely, although another hiker described the locals as a little Twin Peaks. There were just a few hikers eating, drinking and staying in the lodge. Quiet. I shared my room with a remarkable young woman from Ireland, Roadrunner, who completed the AT last year, and who I’ll never catch again as she’s doing the PCT with 30 mile minimum days and no zeroes. Another human being tugging at my heart strings, like Travis. Legend cooked up pancakes and coffee across the river for hikers and helped us pick up our resupply from the trail angels. Second time, Legend, himself a roving trail angel, has helped me out. Thanks Legend!
It’s rained the last 3 days, but I passed the 1/2 way monument, and the storm is supposed to lift today, so I’m off!