pct Update #6 - Tahoe Ho!
Well, we made it to Lake Tahoe at mile 1195. Tahoe, of course, lies to the the south of where I last sent you an update (Dunsmuir at mile 1501). Look, ma, we’re southbounders!
Chapter 6.1 - Scattered Snow
While heading north, we kept crossing paths with southbounders who would regale us with stories of snow-caused hardships during their last few weeks. These hardships even included helicopter rescues for some of the unlucky folks that slipped on steep, snow-covered traverses. That generally means you slide down the mountain until something catches you - if you’re lucky, it’s calmer grade, but if you’re not, it’s something more abrupt like a tree, or a rock. We decided this wasn’t for us, so we headed south in search of balmier climes.
We passed a guy named Matt who we briefly met many miles ago in southern California. He wears a hat that says Tatooine in Patagonia colors, so we knew right off the bat he was our kind of nerd. It’s funny seeing folks hundreds of miles later in the middle of a forest - it feels so incredibly unlikely, but then again, with the entire 2600 mile adventure constrained to a single, winding, connected trail, it’s a kind of forcing function for keeping the community passing by each other. Matt shared with us the exciting news that he got his trail name of Mom Spaghetti, so we started adjusting to calling him by this new, delightful name. We exchanged some stories, and off we went again.
The trees were covered in some interesting moss or lichen (I don’t really know what the difference is, to be honest… another thing to look up in town sometime), and in spite of our best efforts, we weren’t able to avoid the snow entirely. Thankfully, we seem to be getting more proficient with it, so a couple miles of snow no longer seems like the exhausting, day-ending prospect it used to.
Speaking of snow, here’s a photo of a glassy, mirror-finish mountain lake with some snow on the other side. If you zoom in or open the full-size version of this one, you might just be able to make out the snowy trail traverse on the other side. A misstep on that traverse sends you sliding straight down into the lake, so we were thankful to have found the forest road on the other side of the lake. The views were better from our side anyway!
Chapter 6.2 - Hitchhikers Extraordinaire
Now, I’ve mentioned hitchhiking before, as it’s something we do fairly frequently to get a mile or five or twenty from the trail into the nearest town. This last stretch, we really outdid ourselves and leveled up our hitchhiking skills - upon arriving in Sierra City and finding no available accommodations, we immediately set off on a complicated two-stage hitch maneuver to Truckee. First we caught a 30 minute hitch into Sierraville, then we thanked them, got out, and thumbed it until we caught another 30 minute hitch into Truckee. This probably sounds silly, but I’m proud of us for pulling it off!
Chapter 6.3 - Old-Fashioned Truckee
Upon arrival, we showered as quickly as possible, because Truckee is quite the fancy place for a couple of dirty hikers. Especially so on 4th of July weekend (an upshot of said fanciness is, of course, that we were able to get a good Old Fashioned, which both Andy and I love, and are often quite elusive in tiny trail towns). And even more especially so on a 4th of July weekend during a year so snowy that the nearby ski areas are still open. In July! 2019 continues to amaze.
After cleaning up, catching a nice 4th of July parade, and witnessing 4 cowboys go through a Dairy Queen drive-through on horseback (you better believe I quickly took a picture!), we met up with some friends to stay with them for the weekend. As it turns out, in addition to snow sports, this area is great for water sports as well, and these friends have a boat at their Lake Tahoe home. This inevitably led to our next unexpected “hiking the trail” side adventure - we went wakeboarding! It’s been about two decades since I’ve gone wakeboarding, but apparently it’s something like riding a bicycle, as I popped right up on the first try! Andy tried wakeboarding for the first time, and we had a great day with lovely weather, calm water, and picturesque views of snow-capped mountains in the background (indeed, the very peaks and ridges that form the pct in this region).
And now, we’re headed north to Dunsmuir by bus, where we’ll begin hiking northbound again. Hopefully, hopefully, hopefully some snow has melted in the weeks it’s taken us to hike down to Tahoe!
Happy trails and until next time,