My pack, overstuffed with supplies for the second half of my trip, is heavy on the hike up from Highway 207. The wildfire smoke disappeared overnight, and it’s another beautiful sunny day when I start hiking at 7:20AM. The trail crosses lots of dirt roads, sneaks through Heavenly ski resort, and then winds around to the eastern side of the mountains, where there are once again panoramic views down into Nevada.
The crowds are out on this gorgeous Sunday—day hikers with dogs, very clean backpackers, trail runners, mountain bikers. I smile a lot but mostly avoid chatting. Star Lake, my lunch stop, is beautiful but also clearly a popular destination—there are tents spotting the hillsides and lots of people getting water. I eat a friggin’ hiker-gourmet meal of tortilla-wrapped foil-pack tuna, extra sharp cheddar cheese, and Cool Ranch Doritos. Salt, salt, salt, and fat. Yes, please.
This section of the trail feels more arid, with hillsides of bare, crumbly granite-gravel. There are big trees and shiny rocks. Quartz appears in long veins, huge chunks of it broken off and tumbled to the trail.
Having now worked on two PCTA trail crews, I find that I notice and appreciate recently and/or well-constructed trail more often. So much work goes into building and maintaining trails like these. No dump truck arrives with a load of perfectly-sized rocks! In wilderness areas, you can’t even bring in a wheelbarrow to haul dirt around. Someone found and carried and placed every single one of those rocks by hand.
Shortly after my last water stop for the day, I feel drops hitting the back of my legs and realize that one of my water containers in my pack is leaking enough to drip out the bottom of the pack. I’m glad I caught it early, because I discover that my fancy cuben fiber pack liner is no longer waterproof—meaning my sleeping bag was at risk of getting soaked. I still have plenty of water for dry-camping and hiking to the next water source, so I retighten screw tops and drinking tube connections and keep going.
At 5:15PM I find a spot for my tent near Mile 96—tucked into the trees on a windy hilltop where I cook dinner between some boulders. If I walk to the edge of the hill I can see the Lake Tahoe basin below and a smoky sunset.
Trail company: one deer; s—tons of day hikers, dogs, backpackers (most very clean), and mountain bikers; two trail runners (one grumpy)
Lesson learned: cuben fiber pack liners have a lifespan less than than 2,700 miles
- Sunday, August 26, 2018
- 17.9 miles / ~ 4,100′ ascent, 2,000′ descent
- Mile 78.1 to Mile 96