Camping: Mellow Mountain Hostel in South Lake Tahoe
We woke up from an uneventful night; thunderstorms never came and the rain remained at bay. The excitement of going to Tahoe spread across camp as we ate quick breakfasts and packed up for the short walk. We made great time, the walking easy today. Sometimes hiking into town can seem to take forever, a mile seeming to have no end, but not today. We came down upon the road within an hour to find trail magic of soda and beer. The cans were just sitting on a rock exposed to all elements, so I decided to hold off for the morning. CrackerJack had a soda, and we then had to walk 1/2 mile farther to hitch into Tahoe.
Within 100 yards we came upon two coolers on the path filled with ice cold PBR and Coors. I conceded to the trail Gods and cracked a Coors with CrackerJack. 8 am is practically hiker noon, and we are technically on vacation for a couple of days. The beer was provided by fellow hiker Snake Farm, so a shout out to his generosity! Thanks Snake Farm! It was better than I expected it to be, and I enjoyed the bubbly feeling it gave me as we approached the shoulder of the highway for our hitch.
Cars zipped by at high speeds, some waving to us, others ignoring us. It felt like it would be a difficult hitch, but soon a shiny new Subaru pulled over and we all jumped in. The guy was a Subaru salesman, and had a lot of outdoor experience. His wife’s cousin hiked the PCT a few years ago so he sympathized with us, and we had great conversation. At one point we hit road construction and had to sit for a half hour waiting. He suddenly said, “hey, could you guys roll down the windows back there? You reek and I have to sell this car this afternoon.” He said it both seriously and in fun, and we all got a laugh out of it. We are so accustomed to our smells, we complain of the strong fragrances worn by non hikers often oblivious to our own strong, yet more natural odors.
We got dropped off at a diner for breakfast and ate giant burritos before going to the hostel. We checked into our room and began the usual town chores of laundry, showers and picking up packages. It wasn’t long before we were hungry again, and we had heard that we should check out the buffet at Harrah’s (a casino just across the Nevada border-mere blocks from the hostel). As it turned out the buffet was $30, and although it was all you can eat, that was too expensive for us. Instead we wandered over to the Stateline brewery and had kobe beef burgers for half the price of the buffet, along with some locally crafted brews. There was a baseball game on the television and I found great pleasure in watching it while we ate.
While all of this was happening, I had been communicating with my non-trail friend, Andy. He recently moved to San Jose, about 4 hours from Tahoe. It turned out he was free this weekend, and would come visit with his sister Emily. That was very exciting, and we went back to the hostel to hang out until they arrived. We drank some beer and I taught everyone how to play Mormon Bridge – a card game I’ve played with Andy’s family over the years. It’s a lot of fun, and easy to teach, so it kept us entertained for a while. After they finally showed up, I thought for sure we would all be going to bed, as it was already 2 hours past hiker midnight. Instead, we stayed up for hours excitedly catching up and enjoying games with other hostel guests. It feels like real vacation tonight, and having some old friends here mingling with the new is a great feeling. It’s going to be a fabulous weekend.