Quincy to South Lake Tahoe

Highlights: We are definitely now in the Sierra Nevada! The mountains have been growing higher and higher, and we have been seeing more and more granite. The views are amazing. Also: we got a wonderful care package from my mother in Sierra City, we saw Sadie again after nearly two months, and were invited to stay in someone’s condo in Truckee after only having met them for a few minutes! We walked through Desolation Wilderness which was absolutely stunning, and made the mistake of camping on top of a windy pass. We hiked out at South Lake Tahoe (which has a library!), where I’m writing this blog post from.  Unfortunately the computer here only let me upload 4 pictures.  Next time I will try to update this post with more pictures.

Day 58: Quincy, 0 miles

August 28th: The night before in our hotel in Quincy, the hot water didn’t work, and the air conditioning failed right before we wanted to go to sleep. We complained to the front desk, and they came to try to fix our air conditioning, but it broke again half an hour later. We were just falling asleep when the manager called us and asked us if we wanted to upgrade to a jacuzzi suite. I was half awake, and told them, that was very kind, but I just wanted to sleep. In the morning, we decided the jacuzzi suite sounded too good to pass up, so we’d take a “zero”. We went to the Post Office, and got the package that White Jeep sent us with all the backpacks to try on, and I picked the most comfortable one. Then I went to the library, subway sandwiches, and the convenience store before picking out a movie from the pile of DVDs that the hotel had, and retiring to the room to soak my sore hips and watch a movie. We felt lucky to be able to relax, but a bit guilty, as the “zero” felt undeserved. Our two rest days in Ashland were not that long ago. No more rest days until we are out of the Sierra Mountains!

Day 59: Mile 1270 to mile 1248, 22 miles

August 29th: We packed up and went to the Post Office to ship the rest of the packs forward, just in case, and got some more food before getting a ride back to the trail. We hiked a few miles before I decided that although the pack that I had felt great- it was probably a size too small. I have quite a long torso. There happened to be cell phone service in the woods, and I called the manufacturer of the pack to order myself a size larger. They would be able to get it to me in Truckee! We kept hiking and were completely surprised to see the last person we knew hiking the trail this year: Lubko. We had stayed with him for a night in Tahoe when we practiced our ice axe skills, “and so I basically saved your life,” Lubko concluded. He had taken a month off to sort out real life stuff, and so lost the herd of northbound thru-hikers.

Us and Lubko (Bam Bam) our friend from the Bay Area who hiked from Mexico

Us and Lubko (Bam Bam) our friend from the Bay Area who hiked from Mexico

Cliffs of Bucks Lake Wilderness

Cliffs of Bucks Lake Wilderness

Bucks Lake area

Bucks Lake area

Day 60: Mile 1248 to mile 1217.5, 30.5 miles

August 30th: We decided to hike as many miles as possible today to optimize our chances of getting to the store at Sierra City the next day before they closed so we could pick up the package my mother had sent to us. We pondered what could be in the package. The terrain was tough though, and it was not an easy thirty miles. A few miles into the morning I got a massive nose bleed. This is probably the 3rd or 4th nose bleed I’ve gotten on the trail, and in normal life, I never get nose bleeds. I imagine it has to do with how dry it is out here, and maybe also the elevation, although I’m not sure. Dirt Stew saw a bear, but by the time I caught up it had run away, and later in the day a huge snowy owl flew in front of my face, and somehow Dirt Stew didn’t see it. Maybe we should try to stop doing 30 mile days now that we’re not in “easy” Oregon anymore. For the record we did 8,044ft of elevation gain and 4975 of elevation loss.

Day 61: Mile 1217.5 to mile 1193, 24.5 miles

August 31st: Today there were lots of people on the trail- this is because it’s Labor Day weekend, of course (not that we’re good at keeping track of these things). The PCT went around the Sierra Buttes which were beautiful, but we were stuck on a very sunny, shadeless steep slope around them with tons of lose rock. I wondered how on earth horses could do this.

Sierra Buttes

Sierra Buttes

We hiked down to the road and managed to get a ride quite quickly into Sierra City where our package waited for us. We got to the store and got our package and opened it up to find lots of tuna fish, chicken salad, hummus, dense bread, and other snacks. I went back to the store and bought a cucumber and a lemon and some soda and we sat and ate and ate and ate. I called my mother to thank her for the food. We were able to eat most of what was in the box, except for some bread and the snacks, which we packed out. As we were trying to leave town, a lady named Lauren came up to us asking us if we were PCT hikers. She was very excited to meet thru-hikers, and told us the PCT was a dream of hers. This was our first real fan! As she was giving us a ride back to the trail, I was looking out the car window and saw Sadie! We hiked with Sadie in Glacier Peak Wilderness almost two months ago, and had struggled through the snow together, but we hadn’t caught her since. Lauren pulled over, and Sadie got in the car. We traded stories for a few minutes before Sadie had to get going to pick up her package before the store closed, and we had to get back to the trail. Who knows when we’ll see her again… We hiked 4 or 5 miles to a campsite near a stream, and there was a couple already there. We introduced ourselves, and chatted about gear and where we were headed. They spent part of their time in this area, and part of their time in New York, and so I asked them if they knew of an inexpensive place to stay in Truckee. They looked at each other and said “yes, we know a place!” Before we knew it, they were inviting us to stay in their condo at Sugar Bowl just a couple miles off the trail. Dirt Stew and I were both shocked that we would be staying in someone’s place while they were out backpacking! They were going to make all the arrangements to have it ready for us when we got there. And there was a hot tub to look forward to.  I have to say that hiking the Pacific Crest Trail has really restored our faith in humanity. That night we joked about how we were just hiking from hot tub to hot tub.

Day 62: Mile 1193 to mile 1162.5, 30.5 miles

September 1st: Fueled by all the protein in my mother’s care package, and driven by the promise of a hot tub, we pulled another 30 mile day, even though we had just told ourselves we wouldn’t push such big miles. I stopped for a break and opened a German “energy bar” that my mother had put in the care package. I took a bite. I’m used to energy bars tasting like chalk with all the protein they tend to pack in them, but this one melted in my mouth. It wasn’t so much an “energy bar”, it was more like chocolate covered marzipan with a hint of honey. Definitely the best ‘bar” I’ve had on the trail. I made Dirt Stew take a picture. The scenery was beautiful. In the morning we saw “drunk trees”, trees that are completely deformed by being pushed down by the snow. We also walked through some logging areas where there had obviously been logging within the last day or two right on the trail. We went above 8000ft for the first time on the trail, and found ourselves on very exposed ridges. We were thankful for no thunderstorms.

Day 63: Mile 1162.5 to Truckee (mile 1155.5), 7 miles

September 2nd: We were so excited to get going in the morning that both Dirt Stew and I left our umbrellas at our campsite. I realized this about a mile or two into our day, and Dirt Stew took off his pack and ran back to go get them. I kept walking, and as I climbed down the mountain towards I-80, I got completely lost. Luckily I was carrying the map, and bushwhacked to where the trail had to be. I found it, and Dirt Stew caught up to me very soon after. “Did you get lost?” Dirt Stew asked me? “Your footsteps disappeared for about 100 ft”. I was glad we didn’t lose each other at least, remembering what had happened to the Eskimo Brothers back up in Washington. We made it to the condo at Sugar Bowl and took a long shower while our laundry was running, and then jumped in the hot tub. I called the Post Office to see if my packages were there yet, and since they were, we decided to go into Truckee. At the Post Office, a lady named Andrea offered to give us a ride to Safeway. She happened to be from Charlottesville, the same town I grew up in. She was only a couple of years older than I, and we found that we knew some of the same people. She gave us a ride back to Sugar Bowl, and we cooked ourselves a nice pasta dinner with broccoli. We then also made some eggs and bacon before going to bed. We were so great full that we were given this opportunity to have a kitchen.

Day 64: Truckee to mile 1135.5, 20 miles

September 3rd: We got up and made ourselves more eggs and bacon for breakfast. We cleaned up after ourselves and got back on the trail by 10am. The trail was very rocky and there was no shade for many many miles. I was so glad, again, to have my umbrella. Good thing Dirt Stew had ran back to get them when we both forgot them. We hiked over 9000ft for the first time, and as I looked at the map, I started to worry about where we were going to camp. There was a long stretch where there was no flat ground according to the map. Finally we got to the top of a pass that was probably part of Squaw Valley Resort, and saw a sign for Wolverine Bowl (black diamond) ski slope. There was a flat spot right there at the top, and so we decided that even though it was exposed, we were unlikely to find something better. We pitched our tent and went to sleep. Several hours later, the wind picked up. The tent was flapping around like crazy, and both Dirt Stew and I tried to adjust our sides of the tent so it would hold up better. I got very little sleep, as the tent kept hitting me very hard in the head.

Day 65: Mile 1135.5 to mile 1105.5, 30 miles

September 4th: When I woke up in the morning, I realized that the tent stake on my side had come undone. No wonder it was hitting me in the head all night. We decided that we were never going to sleep on top of a pass again. I had looked at the maps the night before just before falling asleep, and found that we could do 27 or 28 miles to a lake. Perfect. At some point during the day I realized that my math was wrong. The 27 or 28 miles was actually 22 or 23. Not enough miles. Then I checked where 27 or 28 miles would land us, and it was the ONE place we definitely did not want to camp: on top of Dick’s Pass (9400ft). We could do 30 miles and wind up near a lake on the other side. Damn, another 30 mile day. Oops. That teaches me to do arithmetic right before falling asleep. As we climbed over Dick’s Pass, the sun was setting and we got amazing views of the lakes and the granite rocks of Desolation Wilderness. We decided Desolation Wilderness is definitely not overrated. Tomorrow we hike towards Echo Lake, and we must exit at Rt 50 to get to South Lake Tahoe to resupply (and write the blog!)

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