Day 79: threatening skies

Day 79
Miles: 22
From Richardson lake to Squaw creek

The worst part about twenty-five miles is having them all in front you. No hustle in our camp this morning. We’re sitting around, finding ways to procrastinate, when a dirt-bike suddenly comes ripping past our campsite. “Who rides a dirt-bike through a bunch of campsites at 8 in the morning?” I yell, outraged. I curse the rider and his little go-pro helmet roundly, once they’re out of ear-shot. I hope he got a nice shot of the “no motorized vehicles” sign he just went rocketing past.

We’ve got a nice long stretch of forest duff to lead off, a balm for aching feet. I’m still dealing with a lot of daily foot pain, but it’s a lot more tolerable when we’re not rock hopping all day. It also helps when we don’t walk so fast, but that’s not an option. We run into Seahawk and Bumblebee, but have to pass them by. They got up three hours before us do they don’t have to hustle.

We’re getting up towards Barker’s Pass, with cool views of Lake Tahoe, when we see a mountain biker coming towards us. He pulls to the side of the trail too let us pass, but I just stand in the way. “Hey man, how’s it going.”

He takes out his headphones – “good, how’re you.”
  “Hey, you know you’re on the PCT, right? There are no mountain bikes allowed.”
  “This is the Tahoe rim trail though, bikes are allowed for this section.”
  “It overlaps with the PCT though, and there are no bikes allowed anywhere on the PCT.” We look at each other over an awkward silence. J finally tells him to be sure to watch out for the groups of old folks on day hikes behind us and we let him pass. It might be a stupid thing to be confrontational about, but with the number of PCT hikers going down the trail with headphones on, zoned out after fifteen, twenty miles, it seems like a bad idea to suddenly add bikes to the mix. The PCT is for walkin’. (And horses. But horses walk too.)

“There’s no way that biking is allowed here,” J says later, while we’re watering up at a creek.
  “You don’t think I was to aggressive, do you?”
  “Well, even if it is allowed, I bet he can count on getting harassed by aggro PCTers all day.”
  “Seahawk will probably call him out.”

Seahawk shows up a few minutes later. “Did you guys see the biker?” he asks.
  “Yeah, I called him out. Did you say anything?”
   “Didn’t have a chance. I thought about it, but he passed me right by trail entry parking lot. If I’d pulled out my camera I would have caught him and the no bikes sign in the same frame. He gave me a sheepish look then booked it down the road.”

I don’t have a problem with dirt bikes or mountain bikes or any bikes, I just want there to be at least one place in this big world left to be walked. Someplace you can only get to one step at a time, a ribbon of space from north to south…

Our afternoon takes us out on a beautiful volcanic ridge, mountains to the west, lake Tahoe to the east. It’s fabulous, and a terrible spot to be during a thunderstorm, which looks like it’s building fast. J can see lightning groundstrikes in the thunder cell across the lake, and it’s growing overhead. Puts a little snap in our steps. We hustle across that ridge like we’ve been given brand new legs.

We stop for water and I’m done. Done! My feet don’t want to touch the ground ever again. Too bad Donner Pass is so far away.

At Squaw creek we stop for water again. Twenty-two miles down, thirteen left to Donner Pass. Jule will be picking us up at the pass tomorrow morning at ten – I can do ten before ten, but not thirteen. “Oh man,” I bemoan my lot in life. “I do not want to hike any more today.”
“Do you have service? Why don’t you call Jule and have her pick us up later tomorrow? Then camp here?” suggests J.

Whaddaya know, I do have service. Pickup is postponed. What a relief. Thirteen miles then friends and food and rest – maybe this break will do the trick.





Sleeping under the ski lift