Day 52: Ice cream and beer fix all ails…

Day: Wednesday, July 20th 2016

Miles: 1080.5

Remote Camp 1080.5 – 1103.5

So my PCT plan was never to view South Lake Tahoe as anything more than a milestone. Whilst many hikers view South Lake Tahoe, with its big name (food) chains, Nevada borderline casinos and general air of PCT-compared sophistication as an alluring and seductive mix – i planned to avoid it entirely and keep rolling. As such I resupplied in Kennedy Meadows North with the intention to roll straight through to Sierra City, tolerating an enormously heavy supply load and (as I found out today) completely losing everyone I had been hiking with once I reached the highway exit for South Lake Tahoe. This wasn’t planned, but an unintended consequence and probably a small item of regret ever since. It seems like everyone who went to SLT had some fantastical story to relay afterwards and I missed out on nothing tangible but lots of potential sources of mischief. I guess you win some and you lose some. As it turned out I probably needed a rest as the trail was beginning to weigh on me.

As such it was today that I awoke in a fragrant meadow of blue flowers, enjoyed another coffee from the stash I found back in Kennedy Meadows North, before venturing down an incredibly picturesque 8 miles to the trailhead for South Lake Tahoe. Along the way I met many of the other hikers I know, from Nelson through to UTurn, Outro, Evac and some new people such as a Tahoe Rim Trail hiker Paul, with Adelaide his faithful hound. He planned to do the Appalahian Trail next year along with the doggie.

The intermittent views to the lake were beautiful and the sudden emergence of cell coverage allowed me to call REI to deal with my broken hiking-pole situation. I also called in to resupply HQ by touching base with my cousin in Pittsburgh to deal with some logistics and plans for the next month. All in all it was a picturesque and busy few hours.

The going was good but towards the highway the going was sore. The trail had evolved to a long series of downward steps into granite slabs as it seems my old nemesis, my IT band had started to cause trouble. By the trailhead I was walking with some difficulty and as usual with the IT band, no pain but tightness and reduced mobility in my right leg. I decided to hobble on to Echo Lake about two miles further before holing up with a big ice cream (and subsequently a beer). This general positioning lasted for the entire afternoon as I self soothed through to about 2:30, when my old friend Speedy from Southern California showed up. We hung out for a while before packing up and deciding to hit the trail. In my case I had decided to take the boat shuttle across the lake, saving 2 miles in my hobblesome state. I thusly enjoyed a final ItsIt ice cream on the ferry ride racing across Echo Lake with some fun local girls who were running the shuttle.

By the time we made the dock on the other side of the lake, I was feeling much better (it’s seems that one final ItsIt ice cream fixed me up). I hit the trail about 4PM with not so much a bounce as a nervous twitch in my step but the miles fell easily as I created a moderate elevation increase before gazing at an immense view of the Desolation Wilderness – a remarkable area that effectively looks like a natural building site with heaps of granite rubble and “unfinished” mountain sides meeting with snowfields and precipitous drops. The trail followed a lakeshore before dropping into a spectacular hidden lakes dotted valley to the east.

Unfortunately of course, as with the High Sierra, these picturesque hidden valleys are simply breeding grounds for voracious mosquitos, so I hurried my pace and laced my kit with Deet in order to survive the onslaught. Due to limited tent sites I ended up walking a little further than I intended on a compromised right leg, and targeted a lakeside tent site near Gilmore Lake on the hope it may be cool, higher elevation and bug free. Only two of these proved to be true unfortunately! It sure was cool and it sure did warrant a big uphill hike to get there, but sadly the mosquitos were just as hungry as elsewhere. A little weary, I set camp and hit the hay listening to a nearby scouts group play night time games around the fire! Today had some good and bad points but with some Ibuprofen popped, I just hoped that my knee would behave tomorrow.

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