Days 88-92 – tahoe national Forest to eCho lake
July 6-10 | SOBO Miles 1475.7-1560.8
We got a quick start on Saturday morning knowing we would be getting food and showers in the afternoon. Yet again, the guys’ friend Tyler had generously offered to let us crash at his place in Reno for the night and pick us up at the trailhead.
As we left camp and cruised down the hill, a guy and his dog approached from the opposite direction. “Are you guys hungry?” he asked.
Five minutes later the three of us were seated on camp chairs around Alan’s grill with a picnic spread before us that included fresh fruit, muffins, yogurt, granola, and complete sets of fixings for nachos and burgers, which Alan and his wife Nancy (with the help of their beautiful dog Suzie) were cooking up for us. As I gobbled down a veggie burger with a cold vanilla frappuccino, I noticed a sticker on their log book that I had seen before. It read “Limit Situation Trail Magic.” Back in Tehachapi we’d found a bunch of these stickers in a trail register box with a note saying to stick them to our poles. So we did, wondering what would ever come of them (were we just giving some random company free advertising?).
Well, we found out that morning that “Limit Situation” is what Alan, Nancy, and their crew of around 10 volunteers call their trail magic operation, which feeds hikers around the Carson Pass, Ebbetts Pass, and I-80 areas using their fleet of vans, grills, and pizza ovens. We couldn’t believe our luck at running into them on a dirt forest road in the middle of nowhere, but it was meant to be that we discover the amazing team behind the stickers. It was a gift to chat with them as we snacked our way through the next hour.
And when we hobbled out of there, stuffed to the gills, we walked straight into snow. And then up it. Basin Peak and Castle Peak were covered in it. Between them stood Peter Grubb Hut, an old historical ski shelter maintained by the Sierra Club where we took a lunch break.
After maybe 15 miles of snow, we finally arrived at the I-80 underpass, which had infamously flooded this year.
The trail spat us out at a big highway rest stop and there was Tyler in a black Tesla Model X with flyaway doors, accompanied by Dexter, the ridiculously chill beagle/shepherd mix he was dogsitting.
He ran us to Costco and over to his place, where we showered and he grilled up some (more) burgers for us. We passed out early in his living room.
The next day we all hit up some outdoor stores and made a pilgrimage to the Grocery Outlet in Sparks. Later we floated the Truckee River in tubes and ended up overboard at one point but it was a great time.
Tyler drove us back to the trail that night and we hiked 5 miles over Donner Pass, where I stopped at the Donner Ski Ranch for the free 40oz beer they offer hikers. I asked if I could take it to go and they said no but that they wouldn’t run after me if I ran away with it… so I poured it into my Smartwater bottle and was on my way.
That night we got an amazing sunset climbing over the Sugar Bowl ski resort, and we camped shortly after it.
And the next morning it was back to the snow a storm we made our way toward Tahoe.
We traversed a number of sketchy, icy slopes that day. At one particularly steep and exposed moment around noon, after I’d told the dudes to go ahead because I was exhausted and moving slow, I lost it and had some tears on the side of the mountain bent over my trekking poles. It took a good 20 minutes after that to make my way up to the ridge, and thank God, it was dry.
We took a lunch break at Squaw Valley, where the wind almost blew us right over. But the wildflowers were spectacular.
The next day I awoke with jelly legs and noodle arms, but nonetheless it was time to wrestle the next big snowy mountain. I downed my cold coffee and poptart. It was cherry flavored and had a unicorn printed in the frosting. The guys had bought them too.
The obstacle of the day was The 9300’ Dick’s Pass, of which many a joke was made. By the base of the pass the guys had me laughing so hysterically I could barely breathe. I was delirious. It was time for me to get to Tahoe.
After we made it over the hump we skirted Heather Lake and Aloha Lake, where we would camp for the night.
We found a perfect spot to cowboy camp on some flat granite on the lakeshore. I took my ramen to a good lookout spot and stared at the sunset for a few hours while the guys watched Stranger Things.
And then I watched a little Stranger Things too.
This morning we had a few easy miles to get out of the snow and down to Echo Lake. Tons of little cabins surrounded the lake and all their owners had set up their tents and mattresses on their patios–being outside here is just that great.
I ditched the guys at Echo Lake as they were continuing an extra 15 miles that I didn’t have in me today. So to be nice I took their heaviest gear off of them and hitched to South Lake Tahoe. And I got myself a nice hot breakfast.
I then made my way to Reno and shipped home my poles and tent stakes–I’m flying to LA tomorrow and home on Sunday for a week of R&R and those can’t come with. And most importantly, I purchased ingredients to make the cinnamon rolls I’ve been promising to make the guys for months now. If all goes as planned they’ll finally get them in the morning.