Miles: 22.31
Camping: PCT mile 1142.89

Though the first light seemed to be on for quite some time, I stayed comfortably in my tent longer than usual. I was waiting to hear the first signs of others moving about, as I was happy where I lay, and wasn’t greatly motivated to get up yet. When it seemed as if maybe I had missed something, I checked the time and it was 6:20! This is quite possibly my latest morning yet, as I’m typically on trail by that time. I panicked, thinking everyone else had somehow left camp without my noticing. I quickly unzipped my rain fly and poked my head out to see all of the tents present and accounted for. I sighed a sigh of relief, and laid back down, content to sleep as long as my friends. This is when others began to stir though, and I decided I might as well start soaking my oatmeal and brewing my cold coffee. Going stoveless has so far been very convenient, as there is so much less work at meal time, though I don’t think I’m saving any weight. I may have dropped a little less than a pound in gear (stove, cook pot and fuel), but I make up for it in the food I carry. One thing is for certain, I will not starve out here, cold food or not.

We got out of camp an hour later than usual, moving through dense vegetation away from the lake. I found the trail pretty easy this morning as it gradually increased in elevation. There were more people on trail than I’m used to, but we were still on the Tahoe Rim Trail for about half of our day today. It went smoothly, and soon we were rounding a false summit to a clearing where a few of us stopped for lunch. It was only 1/4 mile later that the trails diverged and only PCT hikers remained, making me feel at home.

The water situation was a bit sparse today, and though a hiker warned us of an exposed 9 mile stretch without water, I somehow still ran out. We were on the back side of a ski mountain and it was as dry as a bone, fully exposed to the afternoon sun. I kept trying to imagine it all covered in snow, my snowboard strapped to my feet. It was hot and dry though, my water situation low, which kept pulling me back to the moment. My mouth and throat were dry and I kept trying to conjure up some saliva. It was only 4 miles at that point, but it seemed a lot longer.

We made it to the stream and I promptly drank a liter, washing my feet in the process. I have been getting extra dirty lately with all of the dust flying about. The dryness translates in many ways, sometimes reminding me of the desert but with many redeeming qualities. Regardless, I’m somehow dirtier than everyone else, fitting my trail name across the board. Dusty and then some…no matter how often I stop to wash off in a stream (see pic below). After collecting and drinking water, we began our last ascent of the day. It was steep and went through dense fields of wildflowers, views of Lake Tahoe partially obscured by haze. A lot of vegetation was dried out and all of the creek beds were dry as a bone. This area really has evidence of the drought situation in California,and we began to worry that we may not be able to rely on water ahead. Streams were dry left and right, but we were banking on the American River, just 1 mile from our intended camp spot. How could the American River be dry? It was looking grim until I came upon CrackerJack, Danger Spoon and Oak sitting around in a grass patch. All signs pointed to there being water nearby and thankfully it was true. We rinsed off again and filled up in case we had to dry camp, not confident that the stream by camp would be flowing.

It was only 1 more mile, and we hiked across Squaw Valley, another ski area. Just after some chair lifts, we began to drop below tree line (the sky still threatens a storm that has yet to come) and we found camp. There was enough room for our entire entourage, so we made it our home for the night. We have somehow remained cohesive as a group of 9, not really hiking together by day but camping together every night. I like the feeling of being a part of a group and camp is a lot of fun with this crowd. We even collectively fixed my second broken spork of the trip. Danger Spoon melted it over his stove to reseal it, and Tin Tin came through with duct tape. Hopefully it works until Sierra City, as I can go stoveless, but not sporkless. Thank you Danger Spoon and Tin Tin!

The others are staying up around the fire tonight, but I’m about ready to hunker down. We are planning nearly 27 miles tomorrow, which sounds a bit daunting to me but highly productive. Hopefully it doesn’t run me down, but I will stop early if I have to. Sleep first. Goodnight.

My legs look like this every day now.