PCT CA SECTION K & L
ECHO LAKE TO DONNER SUMMIT (I-80)
MILE 1092 – 1157
DONNER SUMMIT (I-80) TO HWY 49
MILE 1157 – 1195.4
Day 82 – 22.5 miles
We woke up at 6am and made our way to the diner. We were trying to get out of SLT asap because we were trying to push a 20 mile day. We had decided that we were going to go over Mount Tallac to enter Desolation since we’ve been a few times before already and aren’t huge fans of how crowded Echo Lake is, plus, Tallac is awesome.
We finished breakfast and caught a Lyft to the trailhead. Right after they left, Angler realized he had left his GoPro at the hotel. We had no internet so we couldn’t look up any phone numbers, but we could make phone calls, so I thought quick and called my dad and brother to look up the hotel’s phone number for us. Unfortunately, out of the 4 numbers we got, none worked, go figure.
Angler’s dad was able to get us the phone number for a cab, we had to go back to the hotel. They said it would be half an hour, we were already in a time crunch so this isn’t what I wanted to hear but I also wasn’t going to complain. While waiting, a woman drove past us in her van, she stopped, and hit reverse. She offered us a ride, and we gladly accepted! Her name was Jessica and I’m so thankful for people like her.
We got to the hotel, thankfully, the GoPro was right where Angler thought it was. we got another Lyft back and started hiking around 10am.
We had Mount Tallac to tackle first. Last year we did it and it kinda kicked my ass, so it was a pleasant surprise that I actually found it pretty easy. We met a man and his dog who were hiking Tallac. The man’s name was Brandon, his dog was Gravy. He was hella cool and we hiked the last stretch of Tallac together. He said he was new to the area so I hooked him up with all the best spots around. I think he’s actually gonna go to them too.
After Tallac, we had Dick’s Pass. This is the third year in a row that we’ve done Dick’s Pass. We flew over it. At the top, Angler and I discussed the stark contrast between Dick’s Pass today and how we felt about it 2 years ago when it had me basically in tears.
We had dinner at Middle Velma Lake, that was our last camp on the TRT and again, who we are today is totally different than two years ago. I’m really proud of how far we’ve progressed not just physically but also just as people in general.
We pushed on to camp, an army of mosquitos in tow. Full. On to the next camp. Also full. That’s ok though, cause the more miles we do, the easier it’ll be to get into Truckee to resupply.
We finally found a really cool camp. It took some effort to get to, but the view of Lake Tahoe and the Crystal Range couldn’t be beat.
Nothing really went as planned today, but I didn’t let it make me mad. I’m just thankful to be here and I still had a really good day. Unfortunately, I realized I left my spoon at Middle Velma, but even eating Ramen with my fingers can’t ruin this vibe. Just kidding, Angler said he’ll share his until I can get a new one.
Day 83 – 25.1 miles
Hello NorCal! Today was lovely, it was filled with beautiful ridge walks, and countless fields of lupine and Mule’s Ear.
We awoke to our stealth spot on the ridge, made some breakfast and got moving. The plan today was to make it at least 23 miles to hopefully make the trek into Truckee a little easier on ourselves. It was a big task considering I had forgotten that my electrolyte tablets had caffeine and had accidentally drank them too close to bed, therefore, I was up for most of the night. I think I only got about two hours of sleep.
My friend Cassie and her girlfriend were kind enough to invite us into their home in Donner for a resupply. I’m eternally thankful for people’s kindness, really restores your faith in humanity.
Angler’s aunt is also going to meet us at the Ski Ranch for dinner, then give us a ride to Cassie’s place. She’s the first person from home that we’ve seen yet and I’m excited.
The trail was pretty mellow with very minimal rocky parts, which my feet were happy about. My bunions seem to be getting larger but with the new shoes aren’t nearly as painful, so I’m just gonna ride them out for as long as I can!
We said goodbye to Tahoe as we dove deeper into the Granite Chief Wilderness. This wilderness is gorgeous! Another one to add to list of “places to come back to”.
As we were packing up from our dinner break, we saw Four Shirts and Unfiltered who we’ve been leapfrogging with for a few weeks, he reminded me about the Donner Ski Ranch and how HWY 40 is open on weekends! That’s gonna save us some time for sure!
We also ran into Scorpion Queen, who we met in Kennedy Meadows. I told her our plans to try to make it to the American River tonight and she said “yeah you are!” I loved the confidence! It was the boost we needed to pull off our first 25 mile day!
I’m feeling really confident and capable today. I’m so thankful that my body carried me 25 miles, and I’m thankful for the almost 1200 it’s carried me so far. I hope I can continue to do this for a long time. Today was probably the best day on trail I’ve had so far, and I’m just so happy to be here.
Even on two hours of sleep I can do 25 miles. Thank goodness I’m an insomniac and have figured out how to function well while sleep deprived!
Day 84 – 13.8 miles
Town day! We decided to do a mini resupply in Truckee to keep our packs light. Angler’s aunt also wanted to come see us once we crossed I-80, so we thought what better way than to invite her to the Donner Ski Ranch for lunch!
The day was short but challenging. My feet are increasingly painful. I wake up every morning stiff. After a few miles everything mostly feels fine, but wow, my poor body is a little bit broken right now. There was a lot of rock today, which felt terrible on my feet. I was a grouch for most of the morning.
UNTIL, we made it to highway 40 and saw the infamous Donner Ski Hut. Anger’s aunt was inside waiting for us. We got some drinks and put our food orders in.
It was really nice to see Angler’s aunt. She’s the first person who we’ve seen from home, and I thought it was so awesome that she drove all the way out from Sacramento to see us.
My old friend from highschool, Cassie, had been in contact with me a few days prior and had invited us to stay with her at her and her girlfriend’s cabin at Donner Lake. Angler’s aunt was kind enough to give us a ride there after lunch.
We got to Cassie’s place. She offered to show us a rope swing and I only love rope swings! Of course I wanna check it out. It was a really good one, except I forgot to take my gauges out and I lost one in the lake. Thankfully my dad is going to bring me my spare pair on Thursday. Until then, my ear lobes just look like cat anuses… it be like that sometimes.
It was so awesome to hang out with Cassie again. We haven’t really seen each other since high school and it was great to catch up. We talked until almost 11pm! The latest I’ve stayed up in a long time.
Day 85 – 23.1 miles
We woke up at 6am. Cassie told us that if we got up early, she would have time to take us not only to the grocery store to get some food, but also back to the trailhead.
We were up and at it! Cassie even found a place that had gluten free pastries, so we went there for breakfast and she bought us some to pack out. The generosity and kindness of people really gives me hope. I think after the fire, I was a bitter person. I felt like it was a time in my life when I needed help, and sadly, I didn’t feel like anyone really tried to help me.
Of course, my parents let me live in their travel trailer and I’m so thankful for that. But in a lot of other ways, I didn’t get help when I really needed it, and it made me bitter. I’ve struggled through a lot of issues alone. I want to be someone who offers to help more, I want to be the person I wish I had when I needed it. People like Cassie make this world a good place.
We got our supplies and she dropped us off at the trailhead. We said goodbye, I definitely think we’ll hang out again though. At the rest stop, we ran into Postal, Unfiltered, Four Shirts and Scorpion Queen – the gang’s all here.
We got going. I’ve done this section before and I knew it was super easy and cruisy, so we stormed up Castle Pass and tried to crush as many miles as we could. We really want to take a zero in Sierra City and I spilled my entire dinner anyway, so I don’t have enough food to even stay out here another night.
We hiked off and on with Train for most of the day. We happened to run into her at a wooden bridge and it was great to catch up! We hiked with her quite a few times in the desert, but we got separated after the Acton KOA. We had been spotting her name in the trail registers though, so we knew she was close.
We hit another bubble and all the campsites were taken by the time we got to them. I didn’t sleep great because Angler’s snoring kept me awake, so I was definitely done hiking for the day. We wanted to go for a marathon day, but between my lack of sleep and our late start, it just wasn’t in the cards. Train was going for the marathon though, and I think she’s gonna pull it off.
Going into Sierra City tomorrow. It’s so surreal to be here and to be walking the same path I did in 2019. The trail is just how I remember it, I, however, am not.
Day 86 – 15.6 miles
Today we finished up section L. I thought a lot about the progress that I’ve made not only physically but also emotionally since I did this section back in 2019. I’m not perfect by a long shot (and also never will be) but I think I’m definitely in a better place now than I was back then.
I woke up to my feet already hurting. Good. It was also raining which was weird. We got going quick, I wanted to make sure we made it to town before the store closed, mostly because I was out of fucking food.
The entire day my feet hurt. After suffering through it for the first 8 miles I gave up and took an Advil. I’m getting increasingly worried about my bunions, I am in almost constant pain at this point.
We got to Sierra City, I was feeling defeated per usual, every day we go into town I have a mini breakdown and my confidence is in the toilet, I don’t know why.
All the hotels were booked, I was getting increasingly stressed out. We heard a man’s voice “you guys need a place to stay?” Yes! We told us we were welcome to stay in his upstairs apartment. Him and his wife owned the resort nearby. He told me he usually doesn’t rent it out, but he would for us. So thankful!
Angler’s friend, Martin, drove up from Grass Valley to fish with him. I stayed behind and enjoyed some much needed alone time. I got a message from my grandma that said my bunion pads arrived at her house and she’s sending them with my dad on Thursday. I called my dad and talked with him for a bit. I also talked to my friend, Brandon. I’m thankful to have supportive people in my life.
I’m feeling a lot better after talking to some folks at home. I hate to admit it, but I’ve considered quitting, a few times. I considered it today. I thought “man, I could just go to Belden and call it good there, it would be totally fine!” This is really hard, like harder than I ever imagined.
My feet are fucked, my shoulders are basically rubbed raw from my pack, oh, so is my spine. My shins hurt, my ankles hurt, my back hurts, I’m always tired. And always hungry, but never for the food that I have. And the food is so heavy! So is water! And I carry extra because I’m constantly scared to go to sleep and wake up dizzy again. I’m a wreck some days.
This doesn’t change you. And it sure as hell doesn’t solve any of your problems. You have to do that, and it takes serious work. And I’m not going to quit because I’m not done with that work yet.
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