Day 81: Sierra City

Started: Milton Creek (1190.7)

Ended: Sierra City (1195.4)

Total Miles: 4.7 + 1.5 Bonus Miles

After a solid day yesterday, today was going to be much easier. I sent a box ahead from South Lake Tahoe to the post office in Sierra City.

Just as I was finishing packing up, Diesel Dan came down. We met in Kennedy Meadows South. We hiked to town together, including the one in a half road hike.

The second important task was to carb up. For second breakfast (first breakfast was at camp) consisted of three eggs, three slices of bacon, three sausages, hash browns, three pancakes, an English muffin, orange juice, and about ten cups of coffee. I love the backpacker’s diet.

I got my box from the Post Office and put together my meal plan. Because I made it to town early, I had ten freeze dried dinners for five days. I sold two to Diesel Dan.

That is when Nap and Bubbles came into town. They went into Truckee to find someone to fix their tent to no avail. So, they got back on trail to try and catch up with me. Tarptent overnight shipped a new zipper to Sierra City for them to try and fix it themselves.

It was 95 degrees, so my plan was to wait until it was cooler to leave. The hike out consists of an eight mile, 3000 foot, exposed climb. I did not want to do that in the middle of the day.

For lunch I had an excellent double cheese burger with pepper jack cheese, grilled onions, mustard, a vanilla shake and a 40 ounce Doctor Pepper. I love the backpacker’s diet.

I spent the rest of the day resting, calling family and friends, and talking with other hikers.

Nap and Bubbles wanted to hike with me again, so we agreed to leave early tomorrow.

I wasn’t hungry for dinner for some reason.

I camped in the back of a Methodist church. As it was Friday, there was a ton of noise and I only fell asleep after midnight. It is going to be a long day tomorrow.

Day 80: Hike By a Bear Like You Just Don’t Care

Started: Tentsite (1168.5)

Ended: Milton Creek (1190.7)

Total Miles: 22.2

Achievements: Hike By a Bear Like You Just Don’t Care

Like a good solo hiker, I set my alarm for 5 a.m. with a plan to be on trail by 5:30.

The alarm went off. I hit snooze.

The snooze went off. I turned off the alarm and rolled over. So much for being a good solo hiker.

I watched an amazing sunrise from in my tent all warm and comfortable. I had breakfast in bed. Two Clif Bars and some natural spring water.

Properly fed and only slightly more motivated, I got up at 6:30 and was on trail by 7.

Another advantage of hiking solo is sleeping in

Looking at the map, the best campsite before town was 22.2 miles away. It puts me just 4.7 miles from Sierra City. I said to myself that the old fat thru-hiker I was couldn’t do that. I’m not the old fat thru-hiker anymore. I’m the old, just nine pounds overweight hiker. Probably less that nine pounds now. I can do that, even though I slept in. I turned on some fast music and went to work.

Sometime around nine, a hiking couple ran to a bear just off trail. They backed up and were walking off trail giving the bear plenty of space. The bear was grazing just 20 yards off trail.

Oblivious to both the bear and the hikers calling me, I just cruised. According to the couple, the bear stopped eating and just watched as I walked by. I’m sure I left the bear flabbergasted or maybe demoralized. He’s going to need to see a bear psychologist.

“I don’t know doc, Normally hikers panic in my presence, but then this old, fat backpacker just walks right by me. I know I should eat him, but he clearly doesn’t care about the dangers of the wilderness. I was afraid that if I hunted him, I’d end up dinner. I think I’ve lost my edge.”

I reached the campsite at 5:30. My left ankle held up well. When the time comes, which is soon, 20 to 25 miles will be easy peasy.

I finished this span one day ahead of schedule. I’m supposed to zero in Sierra City, but I’ll skip that. I’m seven days behind schedule. This will reduce that to five days.

I’m watching the clock.

Day 79: On My Own, Naturally

Started: Donner Ski Ranch (1153.4)

Ended: Tentsite (1168.5)

Total Miles: 15.1 + 2 Lost Miles + .8 Bonus Miles

Achievements: Search For Grub In The Grubb Hut

So, today was my first day hiking alone since I left Warner Springs, at mile 109.5. I’m a social person, so I like to meet up at the end of the day with people I know. However, hiking solo has advantages.

I did struggle in the morning to stay on trail. There were quite a few side trails, probably for rock climbing, and as they all had footprints, I often followed the wrong one. The worst led somewhere people like to visit. I found myself way off trail. I tried to return to the PCT overland, but realized that wasn’t going to work.

Today I hiked past a PCT landmark, the Peter Grubb Hut. Like Eagle Rock and the John Muir hut, it is something I’ve seen countless pictures and videos of and now I was there. I would have loved to climb the ladder and sleep there, but it was too early. As I was alone, I had plenty of time to explore.

I took only one picture of it, but I have a finger in it. Grrr…

There were two big climbs. On top of the second one was a cool place to camp. It was only 15 miles and 4 p.m., so I was going to keep going. Nearly half a mile later, I ran into an ice cold natural spring. As it tasted perfect, I loaded up with four liters and returned to the nice campsite and made an early day of it.

You can’t do that if you have hiking partners now can you?

Day 78: An Unexpected Goodbye

Started: Tentsite (1140.7)

Ended: Donner Ski Ranch (1153.4)

Total Miles: 12.7

We were unsuccessful at completing the plan for today. On paper it looked good. Hike 12.7 miles to the Donner Ski Ranch for a late lunch and hike the last three miles to a campsite.

We did that fine. Nap and Bubbles tent has a broken zipper. You need that with the mosquitos. While followifng the instructions provided by the manufacturer, Nap squeezed too hard and broke the zipper.

The three of us called all the sewing businesses trying to find a solution. We had no luck. Late, we chose to send a room at the ranch.

I will leave in the morning. I am on the clock now. I have little room in the schedule for unplanned zeros. I enjoy hiking with my two Swiss friends, but that is the way of the trail.

It was not a good day for photography. Smoke from the Yosemite fire make what should have been awesome shots.

Minor Update

I’m in Sierra City, mile 1195, but I cannot upload my pictures. So, I’ll update my blog when I get to Quincy in five days. Many cool stories to share, but hard to do without the pictures.

Health is good. Morale is excellent.

Day 77: Three Climbs? Whatever…

Started: Bear Lake Outlet Tentsite (1122.1)

Ended: Tentsite (1140.7)

Total Miles: 18.6

I wrote yesterday that today was going to be tough to hike 18 miles because we had three climbs. I’m beginning to realize that I’m underestimating what I can do.

Having lost all this weight, it does not take as much energy to climb. Today, I tried to push it. I wasn’t afraid to sweat. I did something truly unusual for me. I bounded up the hill. I passed other hikers instead of the one being passed.

I still did the 18 miles. That’s pretty good for someone with a swollen left ankle.

Nap, Bubbles and I agreed to meet at a water source 13 miles in the hike. I moved much faster. They ran into some trail magic I missed. So, I rested at mile 13 where I ran into some trail magic of my own. The trail angel and I talked for an hour. He completed the trail in 2016, and gave me plenty of good advice.

When Nap and Bubbles arrived, I bounded up the last climb. It was a good day and tomorrow promises to be better.

Day 76: Dicks Pass

Started: Gilmore Lake (1103.3)

Ended: Bear Lake Outlet Tentsite (1122.1)

Total Miles: 18.8

Achievements: Dicks Pass (9,377 ft.)

I started the day with a climb up to Dicks Pass. I wanted to do it the day before, but the threat of thunderstorms made me camp early. Nap and Bubbles were running late, so I started alone.

Dicks Pass is the highest elevation for all of Northern California. The climb was easy until the last quarter mile. I was huffing and puffing to get to the top. The way down was filled with scree, so it was slow going.

My left ankle did not bother me, although I took Vitamin-I. When we stopped for lunch, we found ourselves having only completed six miles. We resigned ourselves to a low mileage day.

We are scheduled to do 15 miles per day for this section. If we do 18, we’ll knock a day off, so that is our goal.

With a strong push and forgiving terrain, we finished with nearly 19 miles.

We’ll do the same thing tomorrow. We are at the base of a big climb, although it doesn’t end in a pass. There will be a bunch of climbs tomorrow, so getting 18 miles will be a challenge.

Day 75: 1,100 Miles

Started: South Lake Tahoe (1092.3)

Ended: Gilmore Lake (1103.3)

Total Miles: 11.0

Achievements: Mountain Storm,

It took us a while to get out of South Lake Tahoe. We took the bus for $2 to get to the road that led to where we hitched in. The bus trip took a long time. Once we were on the road, it still took a while to hitch. Eventually, we were picked up by a avid hiker in this area. He informed us that a bear managed to rip the top off of a bear canister. Anyone who stored their food in their tent had to be crazy.

I hung my food tonight instead of just keeping it in my tent as usual.

With a sore ankle and a short day, I didn’t dilly-dally. My goal was to hike about 15 miles to a tent site after Dicks Pass. In the middle of the climb, a afternoon storm came up quickly. I could see it approach, and the top of a pass is a poor place to be in a thunderstorm.

I crossed 1,100 miles.

I got to Gilmore Lake and prepared for the worst. The storm turned and passed by. It was too late to continue, so I’ll just have to accept an 11 mile day. As it was over ten miles, it is not a nero.

Overall, my ankle is still swollen, but I was able to hike without too much pain. I expect it to be better tomorrow. I would like to do 18 miles if I can.

Day 74: A Badly Needed Day Off

Zero in South Lake Tahoe

Today is a day of rest and preparation for the next sections. We have a seven day hike to Sierra City. Sierra City has no resupply options, so I’m mailing a box of food forward.

I went to an outfitter across from the hostel to buy new clothes. I’ve gone from a size 40 shorts to a size 34. The size 32 fits, but was a little tight. After reaching Oregon, I should fit a 32. I’ve also gone from an extra large shirt and to a medium. I sent a picture home. My daughter said, “Wow Dad! You are thin!”. I still have 20 to 30 pounds to go, so I have plenty of fat reserves for this hike.

The outfitter had plenty of freeze dried dinners at a reasonable price, so I bought enough for these two sections. Diversity for dinner is critical for morale.

Nap and Bubbles have been struggling with the zipper on their tent. They have a Tarptent. They called and Tarptent helped them fix it with a needle nose pliers. I had a similar problem with one of my zippers on my tent. The other zipper worked, so I was fine. The method worked for me as well, so my tent is no longer degraded.

I road a motorized scooter to the post office and sent a box with five days of food to Sierra City. It is one of the towns on trail with a post office, but no resupply options. There I found Mammoth. I thought they left, but apparently not.

With that Nap, Bubbles and I bought a bottle of wine and toasted. We toasted to Bubbles encounter with a bear. We toasted to my weight loss. We toasted to fixed tents.

Tomorrow we’ll get breakfast and get back on trail.

Day 73: South Lake Tahoe

Started: Tentsite (1087.0)

Ended: South Lake Tahoe (1092.3)

Total Miles: 5.3 + Lots of Bonus Miles

We made quick work of the remaining miles into South Lake Tahoe. I’ve been battling a sore left leg the past couple of days. This morning my left ankle was swollen. I guess I twisted my ankle. Fortunately, I have a brace for that. That and Vitamin-I.

When we got down to Echo Summit, a ride was waiting. Greatfull Dad and his van was offering a ride. All you needed to do is sign the van.

We stopped first for second breakfast at Heidi’s, a local breakfast restaurant that is hiker friendly. I need to rest and replenish calories.

After second breakfast, we walked to the Mellow Mountain Hostel. Nap and Bubbles need to replace their tent, so money is an issue for them. The zipper broke and they are going to need that or their blood will be sucked out due to mosquitoes.

I ran into Candice, now called Mammoth. I met her at Scout and Frodo’s and camped with her on day one. She gave me my trail name. Sadly, the last time I saw her, she was hurting, but there was nothing I could do. It was a terrible way to say goodbye. Now I probably will never see her again as she is faster, but it was on a good note.

South Lake Tahoe is long from a hiker’s perspective. I rented a bike to ride to the post office and pick up my new shoes. Hopefully, I’ll stop sliding on the rocks.

Tonight we’ll go to all you can eat Chinese. Tomorrow I’ll resupply for seven days and buy some new clothes that fit.