Back to trail! We spent the morning packing up and getting ready to get back out to the woods. The early afternoon brought thunderstorms to Tahoe so we weren't in a big rush. Cosmo's good friend Hope and her brother Tony came to pick us up and we all had lunch at Base Camp Pizza (which gives free pizza to PCT hikers!).
After eating too much food we were dropped off Echo Mountain Trailhead and all eight of us hiked out. We walked 8.5 miles along granite slabs and next to sparkling water to make it to Aloha Lake where we camped.
We woke up at Lake Aloha and enjoyed a beautiful morning hike along the water.
After seven miles we all met at the top of Dicks Pass for a snack. At the pass, we were treated to hiker snow cones made with snow and Minute Maid Lemonade. After a leisurely break we hiked down.
Today my pack felt heavy and I felt slow because of it. Leaving town is always tough when you pack tons of food. The group set an ambitious goal of 28 miles for the day... I made it 23.6 by 8:00pm and figured it was time to get some rest. I will set an alarm for 5:00am tomorrow and try to catch up. I will also try to eat as many snacks as I can between now and then to try and lighten my load.
I got an early start this morning and began walking by 6:30am. I was hoping to catch up to some of the others, and I did. First, I found Soulshine and Link a mile up the trail and shortly after I found Happy Baby.
We hiked up and over Barker Pass and then enjoyed a few miles of trail along the ridge. The thin rocky trail gave us views of Lake Tahoe and Squaw Valley.
Around lunch time we caught up to Ya Ya and Utah Aaron at a watering hole.
We made plans to camp together at mile 1146 and then hiked on through the evening and climbed up to Tinker Knob.
We all met for an epic sunset and dinner on a cliff side. Not too shabby.
Today the trail was filled with wonderful distractions. After hiking seven miles we found ourselves at Donner Ski Ranch, enjoying free (cheap) beer for hikers and diner style food.
After tons of food consumption we rolled ourselves back to trail and sluggishly hiked three more miles until we came to a rest station with a vending machine. Not that exciting of a find for everyone, but for a thru-hiker it was a gold mine. Bathrooms, clean water, and for a couple bucks a cold sugary beverage.
We made it three more miles past the rest stop before being distracted by an old forest cabin.
By this time it was early evening and we still had at least six more miles to meet our already decreased daily mileage. These last few miles could have been a struggle but luckily I had Soulshine to chat with which made the time fly by.
It was a beautiful sunset hike (except for the mosquitos) to our enclosed forest campsite where Utah Aaron, Ya Ya, Happy Baby, Cosmo, Soulshine and I all ate dinner around the glowing campfire.
The goal for today was to get as close to Sierra City as possible, minimum of 25 miles (we ended at 24.5). The first half of the day seemed to fly by. After 12 miles I found Cosmo, Mellow Yellow, Ya Ya, Happy Baby, and Utah Aaron hanging out at a creek for lunch, naturally I joined.
The next half of the day felt longer. This time I didn't have stomach issues, blisters, or a heat wave to blame it on. The terrain wasn't that challenging and the weather was perfect. Soulshine told me the other day, "I figured out what makes someone a thru hiker. It's not wanting to hike more miles but doing it anyway because you have to." I certainly don't take this lifestyle for granted, I feel fortunate to be able to explore and challenge myself everyday. But it is hard. Some days my body just yearns for a couch, a bowl of popcorn, and a good movie. Sometimes I just want to not hike. But I do it anyway, we all do out here, and we help each other through these slumps...just like "regular" life.
With seven more miles to go I found Soulshine laying on the ground elevating her feet. I couldn't have been happier to see her resting, and without invitation or hesitation I joined. We laid there for a good twenty minutes just talking and eating loads of sugary snacks. I admire Soulshine's ability to always stay positive, to laugh, and to care for others even when she is hurting. Together we helped each other up and finished our hike to camp.
We had a short (5 mile) hike into Sierra City, a small county town off highway 49.
As soon as we got to town we saw the words "bakery" and "open", so we went in. Soulshine, Cosmo, and I paid $1.00 for delicious day old bread, which we drizzled with olive oil. After the first round of stuffing our faces we headed to the Sierra City Country Store to wait for the deli to open, and it was there that we found the hiker corral, plugged in our technology and took a moment to relax.
When I picked up my resupply packages I was surprised (again!) by both my dad, and an old friend, Carolyn (who sent snacks all the way from Scotland!) Thank you for the treats and the kind words!
After retrieving my resupply boxes I was grateful for a free cold shower and a bucket to do my laundry.
We stayed in town for most of the day waiting for our phones and batteries to charge up. During that time we ate french fries, drank beer, and chatted with hikers. It was then that I met Mondo, an ultralight hiker who happened to run into several of my friends along his journey. Thanks to a trail angel, Brandi, we hitched out of town (though we almost got sucked into the vortex) and found the PCT Trailhead at 6:30pm.
Our hike out of town is a 3,000ft climb over seven miles. We made it up one mile before Cosmo, Soulshine, Ya Ya, Mondo, Mellow Yellow, and I decided to cowboy camp. Utah Aaron and Happy Baby continued on a little bit a head.