Day 50, June 13th
Start: camp at mile 1033
End: camp at mile 1073
Miles hiked: 40!!1!1!!!!!
We wake up late, having given up on making it to the post office in Tahoe before it closes tomorrow at 2pm. I eat a crumbled pop tart for breakfast and drink some water with juice mix in it. The true thru-hiker breakfast.
We take off around 7am, and run into Peter Pan. He’s a hiker from 2009, and just started the pct yesterday at Sonora pass. That is where he decided to quite his hike in 2009, and he’s been thinking about getting back on the trail and finishing ever since. We hike with him a bit, up and over snow fields, and through some mountain streams. He’s a fun guy, from Portland doing the ‘Portland hustle’, which many people I met are doing. Basically it consists of doing just about any job you can think of to make it in Portland. It’s fun hearing of all his gigs. But before long he can’t keep up, and we’ll probably never see him again. It’s too bad, really.
I get a ways ahead of carrot and stop and break to wait for her. Ranger rod walks up the trail to me from the other direction, and enthusiastically asks if I’m a thru-hiker.
“Trying to be.” I respond.
“Well when did you start?”
“April 25th, at the kick off party” I say
“Dang! We don’t usually see you guys for another 3 weeks!”
“That’s what I’ve heard. I think the snow was nice enough to let us through early this year”
“You’re not kiddin! It’s been a terrible past two winters. You remember glen pass?” He asks
We talk for some time. He’s a retired forest/park ranger, having been stationed all along the trail in California. I ask him what the small African looking trees are. They’re western junipers, as they’re so cool! I ask him all about the rock formations. They’re all volcanic here, and we’re still technically in the sierras. The volcanic mountains that we’re seeing are the newest rocks in the area, formed roughly 1 million years ago. The granite is roughly 3-4 million years old. It’s interesting picking his brain about the area. He offers me a huge slice of watermelon as we discuss the soils we’re on, and it’s glorious. So juicy and amazing.
Soon carrot catches up and we push on. We discuss trying to push on to get to Tahoe quickly, and decide to call the post office if we ever get reception, and decide then. Eventually we get to a saddle above noble lake, and I get enough service to make a call to the post office. Janet answers, and says that even though they close tomorrow at 2, she’ll be there till 5 and would be willing to give us our packages after hours. So awesome and nice of her. We get her personal number and race off.
“If we do 40 today, we’ll be 20 from Tahoe. We can get that by 2pm easily tomorrow.” I say to carrot.
“40 it is!” She responds.
We race off, talking of if we’ll catch our friends with our huge day. I doubt it, as they’re all probably thinking the same as us, racing to get their food. But they don’t know it’ll be available till 5. At 7pm we reach 30 miles. Carrot averages about 2.5 miles on trail, and that includes breaks. So we’re looking at an 11pm arrival. I have an unopened bottle of Mountain Dew I’ve been carrying since Bridgeport. Genius. I chug it, all at once. In a matter of seconds I turn into hulk twinkle.
“Twinkle smash miles!” I yell to carrot, shaking from the sweet mix of caffeine and sugar.
“You’re ridiculous!” She laughs
We cruise the next 5 miles, hiking as much as we can without headlamps in the twilight. Eventually a full moon rises, and we get above tree line in our climb. Headlamps turn off. We cast giant moon shadows on the rocks and snow as we traverse up and around the peak. The moon is huge, and the detail in the mountains is unlike any I’ve seen before.
It’s cold, freezing cold, but I don’t even notice. I’m in too much awe at the moonlight on the lakes far below us, and the mountains ahead. We snap a few selfies when were under an hour from camp. It’s 10:30, but we’re still chugging. No signs of our friends anywhere. Carrot talks of all the mountain lions in NorCal, and how they stalk hikers when they night hike. But I’m not scared. My eyes are glazed green from the dew, no mountain lion would dare stalk hulk twinkle, I tell carrot.
At 11:15 we reach a dirt road way above treeline. 40 miles, reached. Boom. I’m crashing hard now, and I feel mortal again. It’s cold. My feet and knees ache.
We set up camp and eat terribly in our sleeping bags. Salami, gummies, peanuts, candy. I feel like I’m on my way to the annual Hessel boat show again with my dad, just eating as drinking any junk food I can get. I lay down and check the time. 12:10. Three hours past hiker midnight. My joints throb as I lay in bed, and my face is freezing from the slight breeze. But who cares. Tomorrow up be in Tahoe eating Taco Bell. Yup, Taco Bell. Read it and weep.