Day 17: Sierra City

PCT Mile 1181.8 to 1195.4

Miles Hiked = 13.6

Today’s post will be short.

Last night I spent the night at Lasier Meadows Campground. I was up and hiking before 7am again and headed to Sierra City where I would pick up my resupply, enjoy some restaurant food and take a shower in the room that I reserved about a week ago. Oh yeah, I was also looking forward to sleeping in a bed.

Today’s hike was primarily downhill.

I was so motivated to get into town that I only took two photos along the way – they are both of the Sierra Buttes.Sierra City is located directly below the Sierra Buttes. Most of the rest of the today’s hike was in the forest so there weren’t a lot of photo ops anyway.

I got to town around noon and was soon enjoying a beer with a big juicy hamburger. Then I had another beer.

Life is good.

Thanks for following.

Day 16: It’s About The Trail

PCT Miles 1160.9 to 1181.8

Miles Hiked = 20.9

Today was another beautiful morning as I again hit the trail by 7am – there were a few high clouds but the skies were essentially blue and clear.

When I’m home I follow other hikers blogs on the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) website. If interested go to http://www.pcta.org and then click on Blog and then Journalist.

As I hiked this morning I thought about the “purpose” of my current blog. When Donna and I started at the Southern Terminus last year, the purpose was to keep a journal of our experience and share it with family and friends and others who may be interested. I guess that is still the main purpose. But as I experience more and more of the PCT, my blog is really about sharing The Trail with family and friends and interested others. The PCT is so amazing, so diverse, so unique and so beautiful. So, it’s really All About The Trail!

Today was an easier hiking day mainly because there was not as much elevation gain.As you can see from the above screen shot of today’s elevation profile, I had more downhill than uphill. Thank you Trail.

As I hiked this morning I passed through these fields of blooming Woolly Mules Ears.I’ve actually been passing through a lot of these colorful fields. They are usually on hillsides with lots of sunshine.

I passed this large tree on a hillside next to a field of Mules Ears.I took a mid-morning rest/snack break and enjoyed the following view of the surrounding forestA little later I filled up at Snowbank Spring which was only 25 feet off the trail – this may be the best water I’ve had along the PCT. It was clear and ice cold!This wasn’t a stream – it was a spring bubbling up out of the ground about five feet above the trough in the above photo.

Before I stopped for lunch I enjoyed more views of the surrounding landscapesLater in the afternoon, I was up on a ridge with great 360 degree views, so shot the following video.Even later in the afternoon, I passed through more Wooly Mule Ear fields.I ended up camping at a campground that was a little off the PCT (3/4 mile) but it was worth it to have a picnic table, water spigot, trash can and a restroom. Yippee!Thanks for reading.

Day 15: Donner Pass

PCT Miles 1137.8 to 1160.8

Miles Hiked = 23.0

I was hiking by 6:50am this morning. As usual, blue skies were overhead. Almost immediately I passed above a pretty meadow before the sunshine reached it.

The trail was headed uphill for three miles and gaining 1500 feet in elevation as it passed behind the Squaw Valley Ski Resort. Squaw Valley was the host site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. As I neared the top, I approached a passing hiker and stopped in my tracks.

“Dana?”, I said.

“Todd?”, she said

We gave each other a big hug. Dana hiked with Donna and me for a couple hundred miles last year shortly after we started hiking from the Southern Terminus. I knew she was back on the trail, but I didn’t know where. We chatted for about 30 minutes and caught up on our trail experiences (and Donna’s knee). Dana has hiked about 1500 miles of the PCT this year and is hiking south another 300-400 miles to complete the Sierras. So she has had a very successful year on the PCT!

After I reached the top, I enjoyed views of Lake Tahoe in the distanceand soon passed under the Granite Chief chairlift.

The trail headed downhill for the next few miles. There were a few day hikers out and I was soon passed by about a dozen cross country runners from SF State. I’m sure they were training at altitude for the upcoming season. I wished I could move as fast as they were!

Then the trail started uphill again towards a distinctive peak called Tinker Knob.I took additional photos of the Knob as I slowly got closer.I passed thru a field of noisy grasshoppersand then finally reached the top as the trail passed close to Tinker Knob.

I had a nice 360 degree view so shot a quick video.As I continued north away from Tinker Knob, I hiked along a ridge line and enjoyed the expansive views.Shortly I caught up with Steve and Bob, two hikers I had seen on the trail the last few days. We hiked together for about six miles and shared stories of our hiking and climbing experiences.They are both from Orange County (where I live) and were being picked up by a friend later today for a zero day tomorrow at his house in Incline Village. Nice!

When we reached Highway 40/Donner Pass, Steve and Bob met their friend and I stopped for a lunch break at a closed restaurant. It was nice to have a table with some shade.I continued on for another 3-4 miles towards Interstate 80 – finally reaching it

and passing through two tunnels to get to the other side.There was a Rest Area on the other side of I-80, so I stopped and used the facilities and saw the following plaqueI was getting tired but pushed on – I wanted to get to the Peter Grubb Hut, a Sierra Club ski hut that is also open to hikers.I checked it out but decided to sleep in my tent nearbyToday was a long day, about 23 miles of hiking and almost 5000 feet in elevation gain.Thanks for following.

Day 14: Lake Tahoe Views

PCT Mile 1118.4 to 1137.8

Miles Hikes = 19.4

I was up and hiking today by 7:15am – it was another beautiful morning here on the PCT with clear blue skies overhead.

The first five or six miles today were in the forest. Forest hiking has advantages because the trails are often smooth dirt with minimal rocks and ledges or other obstacles. There also is shade from all the trees. So usually I can hike at a little faster pace while I’m in the forest. Photo ops in the forest include lakes, meadows, flowers and sometimes wildlife.

For me, however, the downside of forest hiking is that there typically are not grand, epic views like what you get above the tree line. My favorite time on the trail is when I’m on ridge lines and mountain passes with views that extend for miles and miles.

After about six miles, the trail passed through the Barker Pass Trailhead. There were cars, a restroom and quite a few day hikers. I took a short snack break and then hiked on.

Soon after leaving the Barker Pass Trailhead, the trail reached a view point of Lake Tahoe. These were the first views of the lake in the past 3-4 days.

The Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) is a 165 mile trail that circles around Lake Tahoe. For the last fifty miles, the PCT and the TRT overlap so I’ve actually been hiking on both. In a few more miles the trails separate and each goes their own way.

As I continued to hike north, I enjoyed additional views of Lake Tahoe.

I passed behind the Alpine Meadows Ski Area and enjoyed additional views of the wilderness to the west of Lake Tahoe. At 5:30 pm I was about 2 miles from where my intended camping site was but in order to get there I was looking at a 1500 foot climb. I decided to make camp and tackle the climb in the morning.

Thanks for reading.

Day 13: Dick’s Pass

PCT Miles 1098.4 to 1118.8

Miles Hiked = 20.4

I started hiking this morning at 7am and didn’t stop until 6pm. It was a long day and I was tired when I stopped for the night. But that is typical for the PCT. Many, if not most, of the thru-hikers I have met will hike 25+ miles per day after they get through the Sierra’s. They have to keep up this pace just to complete the trail in one season. But a twenty mile day is a long day on my old legs (and feet and body in general)!

I had camped at Aloha Lake last night. It was a beautiful morning as I left camp.

Soon after I started hiking I passed a young thru-hiker named Pancake. He had started at the Southern Terminus in mid-May and hiked north to the Sierras. Then, because of the heavy snow in the Sierras, he flipped to Chester, which is in Northern California, and hiked all the way to the Canadian border. He then returned to Chester and was now hiking southbound to finish the Sierras. He only had about 300 miles to finish the entire trail – probably less than three weeks. By my calculations he will have completed the entire trail (2650 miles) in 115-120 days – that is fast!!!

The first few miles were relatively flat and then I had a 1700 foot climb up to Dick’s Pass. There was still some patches of snow along the northern side of the mountains.

On the way up to the pass I chatted with a group of weekend hikers that had their food stolen by a bear last night near Susie Lake! They were making plans to hike out today and cut their hike short. As I climbed higher I had good views back towards the “bear-infested” Susie Lake.

As I approached Dick’s Pass I passed some prayer flags – it reminded me of trekking in Nepal.

When I got to the Pass I had cell service so I called Donna to check in and see how she was doing. I also talked to my youngest son (Travis) which was nice.

The afternoon was mainly a downhill hike though the forest.

I passed by a few pretty lakes.As I hiked, the Trail exited the Desolation Wilderness.

Finally I got to Richardson Lake which is where I camped for the night.

Thanks for following.

Day 12: Back to South Lake Tahoe

PCT Mikes 1092.3 to 1098.4

Miles Hiked = 6.1

This morning I caught a plane to Reno, then a shuttle to South Lake Tahoe, then an Uber to Echo Lake Chalet where the PCT passes near by. This is close to where I exited the trail 2+ weeks ago.

Regarding Donna’s knee, she had the GAE procedure done at UCLA a couple days after we returned home. All went well with the procedure. Her knee has been swollen and tender ever since but we have been told that that is normal. It’s too early in the recovery to know if her knee function will be improved. Assuming it will be, there is still a meniscus tear that needs to be addressed. Donna would like to be able to hike again on the PCT next summer but I’m not so optimistic. We will see.

The Uber driver dropped me off at Echo Lake Chalet about 4:30pm.

There is a small store and deli so I ordered a sandwich to go that I would eat in a few hours. I organized my pack and started hiking at 5:00pm. I was back on the PCT!

The trail follows along the northern side of Echo Lake for the first few miles. I was hiking directly into the setting sun. The views were nice.

The trail paralleled the lake but was maybe 100 yards or so away and slightly above the shoreline. As I hiked I noticed a lot of cabins along the lake. It didn’t look like there was a road so I assumed that all of these cabins were generally accessed by boat. I wondered if these were private cabins or rentals??? They looked liked private cabins to me. What a great place to have a private lakeside mountain retreat.

It didn’t take long before I had a nice view looking back at Echo Lake.

I continued hiking until I got to Lake Aloha around 7:30. It was beautiful but didn’t quite feel like Hawaii. Hahaha. As the sun was setting….I set up my tent.

Today was an easy hiking day. Tomorrow gets more serious – I have to knock off 20+ mile days for the next four days in order to reach Sierra City by Friday.

Thanks for reading.

Day 10 & 11: Zero Days

Donna and I enjoyed two days together in South Lake Tahoe, primarily just relaxing and hanging out at the pool (and eating!).

I found out that she got approved for the GAE procedure of her right knee (I described it in the first blog of this section hike) at UCLA this next week so I decided to return home with her. Hopefully I’ll be back soon to continue my journey north.

Until then, thanks for following.