Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sierra City to South Lake Tahoe

Mon 8/14   Started 1202   Hiked to 1195.4  7.5 miles

  • Resupply box at the Sierra City Country Store, but NOT the shoes
  • The shoes were supposed to get there on Saturday.  This ensured that the shoes were in the delivery today.  And they were.  
  • Thank you, Becky!  The lime green Brooks Cascadia were done and needed to be replaced. 
  • Before getting to Sierra City, I met Lawrence.  He partnered with Alex, but now is about a week behind Alex.  Alex and Lawrence are pretty good guys. 
  • Sierra City has a public bathroom with a shower.  The water was cold, but it felt good.  I also rinsed out socks, shirt, and shorts. 
  • Left Sierra City about 12:15 pm.  I started hiking the PCT about 12:40, thanks to a half-mile lift. 
  • Somehow I missed Milton Spring.  So, it was critical that I get water at Bear Valley Spring. 
  • I am camped at 1184.7  about 10.7 more miles
  • 18 miles for a town day ain't half bad

Tues 8/15 Today is Becky and my anniversary.  I hope you had a great day. 
  • I can't go anywhere without running into someone I know: 
    • Two section hikers going NOBO--one said, "I know you.  I gave you a ride into Big Bear City." His name is Bob.  He and his partner are hiking from South Lake Tahoe to Sierra City
  • Several other section hikers
    • One guy hiking in jeans and had an external frame pack
    • Dianne also hiking to Sierra City.  Wants to try a thru-hike when she retires.
  • Started 1184.7 several campsites.  Ended Castle Pass 1159.9  25 miles
  • I wanted to hike to Hwy 80, but I am out of gas!

Wed 8/16 
  • I made it to Donner Summit Hwy 80 pretty early
  • I called Becky to let her know where I was. 
  • She informed me that Alex Vira passed away
    • two connections
      • Alex and my son, Garrett, were classmates all the way back to preschool
      • His father, Shiraz, was my superior for many years with the SCS/NRCS
  • My condolences, my prayers, and my heart go out to the Vira family--Shiraz, Sigrid, Amy, Nick, I am sorry for your loss
  • I thank Becky for letting me know.  The news weighed heavily on my thoughts all day. 
  • Some hikers I met: 
    • Milkshake and Mountain Goat
    • Zorro and Little Engine
    • 5-Star and Mah (?)
  • Started Castle Pass 1159.5  Ended 1135.9  24 miles
  • I wanted to hit 1133 today, but I was pooped.  The trail had a lot of loose rock in places and also big steps up and big steps down.  This just slows me down and makes me tired. 

Thurs 8/17
  • Balds
    • In the Eastern US, Mountain tops that do not have trees are called "Bald."
    • Here are some of the plant species I've seen on the Balds at 7000-8500
      • shrubs: rose, sagebrush, bitterbrush, rabbitbrush, currant
      • wildflowers:  buckwheat, mint, spiny phlox, lupine, mule's ear (like balsamroot)
      • grasses:  Sandberg bluegrass (or a close cousin), brome
  • High and Lonesome
    • Mountain men of the 1820's-1840's called traveling at high elevations high and lonesome
    • I was high and lonesome today for a considerable period of time
    • Hiking balds and nothing but rock
  • Some Hikers I met today
    • Not many PCT thru-hikers
      • Amazon Princess Warrior and Campfinder
    • Quite a few hiking the Rim Trail
      • Notes for the PCT and Rim Trail are the same 
        • Amber and Nick
        • Whitney and John from BYU
  • I guess I needed something dramatic today: 
    • As I was hiking the high and lonesome today, around 7:30 am at PCT mile 1132, something happened that I could not duplicate if I tried.  I'm not exactly sure how it happened
    • I'm hiking in a section that was rock--the trail, everything around the trail.  Rocks and nothing else
    • I believe I stepped on a flat rock, but the bottom side of the rock was not flat.  
    • Rock shifted to the right
    • All my weight shifted to the right
    • Next thing I know is that I cartwheeled off the trail and landed in rock below the trail
    • Since I didn't nail the landing on my feet, the judges really docked my score
    • I was crumpled on the rock, stunned.  I got up and stumbled back to the trail. 
    • Shin of left leg took it the worst--I lost skin in an are of 5" long by 1.5" wide, bleeding pretty good. 
    • I hiked past the rock to where I could clean and doctor 
    • Note:  my calves and shins on both legs were filthy, dirty when the incident occurred
    • Washed and used bandanna to clean the wounds
    • Used New Skin to protect the wound
    • I hiked another 20 miles after the incident.  Pretty happy about that
    • In the end--I lost a little hide, wounded my pride
    • Started 1135.9  Ended 1112.6   23.6 miles
    • I am Phipps creek.  Worst mosquitoes yet. Little devils are out for blood--mine!

Fri 8/18  Started 1112.6  Ended South Lake Tahoe--at the home of Neal and Melanie Jones
  • Night Intruder
    • At 3:30 am I heard crashing and banging right next to camp
    • I felt around in the dark and found my headlamp
    • When I pointed the light in the direction of the noises, what appeared to be a cinnamon colored bear was just on the other side of a downed log.  The bear's eyes gleamed in the light, his eyes and my eyes were locked on each other.  
    • I hollered out, "Get outta here!" and the bear ran away
    • Immediately I thought the bear must have been 30 feet away, much too close for my comfort.  Later, I paced from my tent to the log---it was fifteen feet. 
    • Where was my food? Not in a bear canister.  Not hanging in a tree 100 feet or so from camp.  I keep my food in the tent with me.  
    • As I was packing up, about half a mile away I heard the same crashing and banging.  Probably the same bear. 

  • Excited: Wrong turn works out better
    • I left camp at first light 5:20 am.  I was excited about Echo Lake, South Lake Tahoe, and especially getting to see long-time friend, Neal Jones. 
    • The Desolation Wilderness is a wonderful piece of landscape if you like big views with many remaining snow banks.  
    • One big climb took me to the tops of Dick's Pass (9375 feet).  I walked on to the largest snow bank to take a few photos.  
    • I headed down the pass more excited than ever to be headed toward a friend. 
    • The trail was gnarly--steep, loose rocks, tree roots, big steps.  I had my head down picking the best foot placement, trying to go fast
    • A little later two women were headed my way.  I casually asked, "How far to Echo Lake?" The reply left me stunned, "This trail goes to Falling Leaf Lake, not Echo Lake. 
    • My brain did something like this: "What?...How can this be? What have I done now?"
    • A young man came down the trail and confirmed that I was on the way to Falling Leaf Lake.  He also said that it would be much easier getting a ride at this trailhead than at Echo Lake. 
    • To correct my mistake would mean a big climb up the trail and cost me several hours. 
    • So I asked the young man if I could just follow him and he was agreeable.  
    • His name is Adam.  We had a pleasant conversation as we hiked. 
    • At the trailhead, Adam's friend, Tommy, was waiting to give Adam a ride to his apartment. 
    • Tommy offered me a ride too.  In a bit we were in South Lake Tahoe. 
    • The wrong turn got me out seamlessly.  Much quicker than if I had made it to Echo Lake. 

  • Two days, three incidents:  Cartwheeling into the rocks, the bear, and the wrong turn. 
  • Neal and Melanie
    • I called Neal and he said it would take him about an hour to get to Ralley's Supermarket
    • I called Becky to let her know I was out and to have her work on arrangements to get me home. 
    • While Neal and I were eating pizza, I called Becky.  Flying on Sunday would save $150.  Arrangements were made--I was going home with Neal, flight for Sunday morning was set up. 
    • It has been years since I last saw Neal
    • Shower and laundry are wonderful.  It's been awhile. 
    • Neal and Melanie live in Incline Village on the north shore of the lake.  
    • A few things I learn from Neal and Melanie
      • Their children are all doing well 
      • They have a couple of absolutely beautiful, identical twin granddaughters. 
      • Melanie and her sister are identical twins.  Identical twins tend to skip a generation and who up two generations later. 
      • Neal and Melanie are very active in their church--Cornerstone.  The board is interviewing three applicants for a new pastor. 
  • I have been blessed to have had some great Trail Angels.  
  • But when the Trail Angels are friends, it takes Trail Angeling to a whole different level
  • Melanie and Neal opened their home and their lives for me. 
  • I left Reno rested and a while new outlook on life.  
  • Thanks much, Neal and Melanie!!  You're the best!!

Becky here, Kevin was only home for three days, and then pulled himself together to go back to the trail. He was hoping for a hiking partner to accompany him in the Sierras.  When that fell through, he decided to go back to Lone Pine and get the last part of California done.  After the Sierras, Kevin will flip back to Ashland, Oregon, and then NOBO hike to Cascade Locks.  


  1. A few thoughts:

    1. Hiking isn't very difficult, but when you do enough of it, you will occasionally fall. I fell three times that I can remember (twice I had an audience). I fell on the snow on Pinchot Pass. I fell when my foot slipped off a rock in Desolation Wilderness. I fell in North Cascades National Park when a log broke underneath my foot. If Dad ends with only one fall, that's doing quite well.

    2. Wrong turns also happen. I had the trail name Pathfinder and ended up off-trail several times. Dad is as good of a navigator as I know. It's amazing how often wrong turns work out for the best.

  2. Sierra City to South Lake Tahoe, thank you for giving us the perfect guide on hiking and making our trips more amazing one. Great share!