Chester to reno to tahoe - trailcaTion aka summer break
May 29-June 9 | Miles: ZERO
We’d gotten off at Chester knowing we wouldn’t see the trail again for about two weeks, as we all had family coming to town and separate plans for some R&R.
Our mission, should we choose to accept it, was to hitch from Chester to Reno. We got lucky as the sequence of events unfolded in the following order:
Got picked up at the edge of town by a nice local and his son. His bumper sticker read: “honk if you love Jesus, text if you want to meet him.” They took us to the “town” of Westwood.
10 minutes later we got a second ride from a couple with a gorgeous husky named Giselle. They ferried us to (where else but) the Susanville McDonald’s where we all got XXL ice cream cones thanks to the nice guy working the counter.
On the side of the highway, waving our cardboard RENO sign, we got the Hail Mary of hitches: Scuba Steve picked us up in his semi and piled us into the cabin. He was on a delivery to Sparks and happy to take us all the way to Reno. We had a thoroughly entertaining hourlong drive wherein he offered multiple times for us to drive the truck, an offer we politely refused, though he went as far as taking his hands off the wheel and getting up from his seat to urge us to try it. We chatted about his grandkids, the trucker lifestyle, and how he’s hauled containers full of plastic straws for Starbucks up and down the Pacific Coast. A real character, this guy.
Steve dropped us at the Nugget Casino, where we copped a ride to the airport from the hotel shuttle. The whole day of hitches cost us just $2 (the tip for the shuttle driver since we felt bad pretending to be hotel guests). From there we hit up a nearby Costco before walking to the guys’ friend’s apartment. I was so exhausted I tripped and fell on the pavement on the way there, earning concerned stares from onlookers at the store as my knee and shin bled grotesquely. Town–more dangerous than the trail. Gravity: 1. Legs: 0.
After a long shower and a chill night, I took off the next morning on a bus to South Lake Tahoe. My Mom would be meeting me there the following day, so I spent a good 24 hours eating, doing laundry, and taking full advantage of the Holiday Inn sauna and hot tub.
I started to notice myself feeling a little funny… disoriented and tired with my stomach in knots. I brushed it off as my body finally letting go and realizing it was time to relax.
When morning came, I felt a little worse. Nevertheless I was determined to raid the town. I strolled nonchalantly in my flip flops, pack still in tow, rolling into the town bakery to the surprised looks of customers who surely wondered if I had made it through the snowy Sierra to get there. Lol, no. But I had still walked through enough of that stuff to earn myself a cinnamon roll, no matter how ill I felt.
I enjoyed my treat on the grass outside the Safeway, propped up against a rock with my balloon sit pad, and using my pack as a pillow. Some hiker trash behavior right there. An hour later I heard a car pull up next to me, and out jumped my mom (who admits she barely recognized me in hobo mode). We booked it to North Lake Tahoe, where we would be staying for the next week.
Almost directly on cue, I got seriously sick. The next 5 days were a blur between debilitating stomach pain, a trip to the doctor, dizziness so bad I couldn’t stand, and multi-hour naps with the curtains drawn. On top of it all, though I was ravenously hungry, I could only eat a few bites before I started feeling nauseous and full. I was temporarily robbed of the glory of town food. A true crime.
The doc’s diagnosis given my symptoms was that I’d likely contracted a waterborne illness like Giardia, though we skipped ordering the lab tests to prove it and instead just went straight to the antibiotics. It took a good week to get back on my feet, but after that we were ready to take advantage of Tahoe in all its blue glory. Shout out to mom for her infinite patience and nursing abilities.
We spent the next few days paddleboarding and biking along the lake, and I worked on evening out my heinous hiker tan and getting a few good runs in.
We were just in time for the Thursday farmer’s market, where we met a colorful dude named Ed who regaled us with stories of the specialty fruit he grows for his Asian customers in San Francisco. We raided the produce stands and came up with enough fresh goodies to concoct some seriously delicious meals (including a belated Mother’s Day cake that kept me busy for a few hours).
I even got to play dress up and pretend I was a real person!
The cabin we rented was seriously charming–a perfect little house tucked on a hillside with killer lake views and gorgeous sunsets.
An extremely restful week. I’m left with such overwhelming gratitude for my health and the fact that I could properly recover off-trail and not on the side of a snow-covered hill somewhere. I’m so relieved to know that the weakness I’d been feeling for the past couple weeks was an actual illness and not just trail fatigue (I was getting a little butthurt at how tired I would get on climbs and in the snow wondering why I was suddenly such a weenie. It all makes sense!). Keeping up with other hikers’ progress has left me itching to get back on the road. I’m so stoked to hit the trail again this week and very much thanking God for the lesson in rest and recovery.
P.S. Don’t leave your water filter outside your tent at night in freezing temps… it seems I’ve learned my lesson the hard way…