Started: 08:15 @ MM 1,067.0 Stream and Camp (Elevation 8,559ft)
Finished: 18:00 @ MM 1,087.3 Creek and Camp (Elevation 8,341ft)
Elevation Gain/Loss: +3,467/-3,648ft
Food: Oatmeal, Kind Bar, Cheese & Crackers, Chips, Peach, Melon, Ham & Cheese Sandwich, Instant Potato & Jerky … NO PUDDING!
Health & Hygiene: 0 Blisters, Days since last shower 4, Days since laundry 4
I woke late and rushed to get the day back on track. Stretch was almost ready to leave when I emerged from the downy nest. I saw him disappear into the forest just below our camp, presumably to commune with nature. A few seconds later he reappeared exclaiming “Not good! Really not good!” His agitation suggested that the mosquitos were significantly worse down there. I laughed at his misfortune before sharing the secret of the double-handed butt slap.
The trail crossed a series of small volcanic peaks before levelling out amongst numerous lakes, fringed with forests of pine. It was fairly easy hiking and we made good time, which was just as well because there were plenty of distractions along the trail today. Our first stop was at Carson’s Pass Ranger Station. All thru-hikers were greeted with a cold soda, a bag of chips (aka crisps) and a selection of fresh fruit. This amazing trail magic, generously provided by Forest Service volunteers, was particularly fortuitous as I had somewhat inadvertently eaten most of my food the previous night. Stretch and I languished in the comfy chairs, cooing over the juicy melon and struggling to find the motivation to press on.
Eventually, after much procrastination, we headed off, across Highway 88 and through the trailhead car park. We had managed to cover about 200 yards when we were brought to a halt by yet more trail magic. It would have been so discourteous to pass up this incredibly generous act, so we dropped our packs and settled down to another cold soda and a ham and cheese sandwich. With more than half the day gone we still hadn’t even covered 10 miles!
The afternoon brought more lakes and generally easy topography. Stretch was hunting high and low for some phone service. His daughter lived not too far from Tahoe and he was keen to make arrangements to see her over the holiday. I had until now been quite blissfully unaware that it was soon to be July 4th, a date which meant nothing to me but by all accounts was something of an ocassion here in America. I thought it wise to call ahead and try to secure some suitable accommodation for my zero in Lake Tahoe. After a few frantic calls I finally managed to find a bed in a hostel, everything else was either completely full or ludicrously expensive. I certainly wasn’t adverse to spending a couple of nights in a hostel, I was however adverse to sleepless nights and 24 hour party people on my zero … Hopefully it wouldn’t be that bad.
We reached our planned campsite around 6 o’clock and right on cue Stretch’s daughter finally returned his call. We were just 3 miles from the main highway into Tahoe and Stretch decided to push on. He invited me to join him but it all seemed like a bit of a faff to get back to Tahoe for my hostel booking and to arrange my resupply. I thanked him for the offer but elected to stay on trail. It was a great camp with good access to water, a fire ring and plenty of wood. With Stretch gone, I had the place all to myself and much to my surprise it stayed that way.
I erected my home on a rocky outcrop and then collected wood for the fire, which I hoped would help to keep the mosquitos away. Dinner was another uninspiring concoction of instant potato and beef jerky. I shovelled it down and thought of all the food porn that I would be binging on this time tomorrow. Just 3 miles separated me from a much needed nero and zero!