Miles: 23.63
Camping: PCT mile 1089.13

Today started out much like the typical day on trail. We got up at about 5:15, made coffee and breakfast, packed up and hit the trail by 6:20. We were all in good moods, laughing and making up songs before the hiking began. It was a good start and I felt pretty strong going up our first climb. We were climbing up a mountain that looked more and more like Mars as we approached the top, but with lots of wildflowers. We constantly seem surrounded by flowers these days and it is delightful. I imagined being on Mars and these were space flowers like in “The Little Prince.” It was a fun mental space for the morning, as I was mostly climbing alone. Somehow I got all of the hiking juice on that first climb, and I didn’t see the guys at all.

We met up on top and sat on the mountainside for second breakfast, sharing treats and laughs along with epic views. The three of us make a good team and we laugh almost all of the time we are together. We sure have fun. The next section of hiking was surrounded by great mountains as we walked through fields of flowers that were as tall as we are. The fields continued up Carson Pass and I felt swept away by the sheer magnitude of flowers backed by endless views of mountains. It was a hefty climb but having popped some Vitamin I with breakfast, I was accomplishing some mighty strong hiking today.

Atop the pass we encountered some nice folks going out for a few days. They were very interested in us, as folk tend to be. I had to politely extradite us fom the conversation as lunch was approaching. I pity the person who stands between a hiker and lunch. As it turned out, we were suddenly surrounded by day hikers of all sorts as we approached a visitor center off of the nearby highway. Two nice women chatted us up for a bit also in the way of lunch, but redeemed themselves with the offering of a banana. Fresh fruit is one of our Achilles heels out here, such a rare and delicious treat on trail. We finally made it to Frog Lake and unfolded our lunches on the shore. Day hikers came and went, all fascinated by the 3 dirty looking people eating food like rabid dogs out of big packs. I imagine some had no clue what we were up to, and others seemed to look at us with utmost admiration. We didn’t care either way, it was lunch time and we were still making up songs. It got so silly we were all in stitches as we hiked on, giggling non-stop down the trail. We were having a blast.

The visitors center was a mile ahead, and we could smell the presence of civilization. Lots of people shared the trail, and it was otherworldly as we aren’t due for town until tomorrow. The visitors center was a highway rest area minus vending machines. It was a small gift shop/info center for tourists with pit toilets on the edge of the parking lot. The nice ladies who worked there also turned out to be trail angels! They had salad, devilled eggs, sandwiches, cherries, cookies, juice and candy. Though we had just had lunch,we dove in for second lunch, you know…to be polite. It was divine. The one woman, Judi, warned us of incoming thunderstorms, but we were so wrapped up in treats we shrugged it off. The clouds were collecting overhead, dark and ominous, but it takes more than that to shake a thru hiker. I went inside to look at flower id books and identified the beautiful, yellow flower we had found that morning. It was a Giant Blazing Star (photos below), and it was spectacular.

We hiked out,sharply aware of weather at this point. We hoped to complete our mileage goal for the day, so we headed out knowing we may be stopped short by weather. It stayed dry, if not intensely humid as we hiked across yet another field of flowers. It was almost like hiking in a greenhouse, but our high spirits today were unshakable. We stopped at a lake, took off our shoes and began to plan our weekend in Tahoe. Our plans are mostly to get there and decide over breakfast, but we all want to see a movie, go to the gear shop and eat copious amounts of food. Two words: Casino buffet. First we had to make some more miles to make it possible to get into town for breakfast, and even through our jokes our energy was flagging.

Only 2 miles from camp the rains began. It was the most rain we’ve seen on trail, but we were not deterred. We were below treeline and the storm didn’t smell of thunder and lightning just yet. That may sound weird, but I grew up on the east coast and have a good feel for those kinds of storms. I was right, as the rain tapered off and blue sky broke open above us as we made camp. There is still a chance of thunder, but we are all fed and in our tents. It could be an exciting night! Tahoe tomorrow!

Giant Blazing Star
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