Trail Magic in Tahoe – the Greatest Place on Earth

Lake Tahoe has been a spot on the map we’ve been looking forward to since the beginning. Much like Tehachapi where Kelsey got to see her grandma and father, Cody has family and friends out in Tahoe. We spent about a week bouncing from house to house while hiking in between and we encountered some of the most amazing trail magic yet.

Day 66

July 27, 2019

Mileage: 1,087.2 – 1,096.1

8.9 miles

We hiked in nine miles to the Echo Lake Chalet where we had our minds on milkshakes. On our way in we actually stumbled upon some trail magic Gatorade and oranges! It was such a treat! We arrived just before 8 a.m. and decided we should have breakfast instead of milkshakes. While we ate, we grabbed a VERY long trail angel list from the Chalet store and started calling some numbers to see if anyone was free to give us a ride into South Lake Tahoe. The third number we called was for Leilani and she happily agreed to come grab us and drop us off. She was awesome and told us all of the best places in town for resupply and where we could buy Cody some new shoes.

Upon walking out of Tahoe Sports LTD, a hiker came walking toward us. His name was Lonestar and he had an infected blister that was causing him to leave the trail. You could see the sadness in his eyes as he told us he hated to quit. He then told us that a man had given him some trail magic and that he wanted to pass it on to us. We graciously refused but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. He walked away and we stood in disbelief at his kindness. We know he will come back to the PCT next year and absolutely crush it.

Cody and Abuelo.

From there we ate a quick lunch at Applebee’s and then did our resupply. After resupplying, Cody’s friend, Abuelo, whom he hadn’t seen in four or five years arrived to visit with us for a few hours. We all ate Cold Stone ice cream as the appetizer before dinner at Base Camp Pizza.

Afterward he drove us back to the trail, but just outside of the bustling city center of South Lake Tahoe we saw a bear! Our very first bear and he wasn’t even on trail! Abuelo dropped us back at Echo Lake Chalet after our busy and food-filled day. While chatting we found that he would be camping in Jackson Meadow the following weekend. We would just so happen to be walking through that very area around that exact time! We’ll get to that later!

Day 67

Mileage: 1,096.1 – 1,118.6

22.5 miles

We woke up without worrying much about timing. The plan would be to get 22 miles and camp that way in the morning we would only have about six miles to get us to the pickup point for Cody’s aunt. We traveled up and around to get to Lake Aloha where we would eat our doughnuts we had packed out the day before from the grocery store. The lake was absolutely beautiful and we even got to see a cute little pika before he squeaked and ran away. The doughnuts were stellar and the views made it the coolest breakfast spot yet.

Doughnuts at Lake Aloha.

The day was beautiful and we passed by at least four lakes and up a pass and it was just spectacular. We hit the 1,100-mile marker, patted ourselves on the back for a job well done, and moved along. We got into camp around 4 in the afternoon and found a murky, beach-less pond that we turned our noses up to. Such snobs we’ve become after seeing so many gloriously clear alpine lakes. We hit the sack early so that we could wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to meet up with Cody’s aunt.

1,100 miles!!

Ice cave!

The trail going by another lake.

Day 68

Mileage: 1,118.6 – 1,124.8

6.2 miles

We awoke around 5 a.m. anxious to meet with Cody’s aunt Diane. We quickly realized that we had awoken much too soon and were going to be mega-early to the pick up point on Barker Pass. It was a beautiful six miles, though, and we were seeing moss-covered pines everywhere.

Diane arrived to pick us up at 8:45 and she and Cody both were thrilled to see one another for the first time in about eight years. She drove us to her home in Tahoe City after a stop for breakfast and we showered in the absolute best shower we’ve seen in at least a month. Real shampoo, conditioner and face wash. It was superb. We tossed our laundry in and headed over to Alpenglow, an outdoor outfitter.

The Hokas Cody bought in South Lake Tahoe were accidentally a half size too big and it wasn’t noticed until we were on trail. The awesome people at Alpenglow were super understanding about how hard it is to fix problems like that from the trail. They actually offered to let Cody exchange the shoes with them even though he had purchased them from a different store. We didn’t even know that was possible! It was so amazing how helpful and knowledgeable everyone in the store was. Tahoe City isn’t even a listed trail town that PCT hikers would generally stop in and they did all of that for us. It was truly amazing.

The awesome folks at Alpenglow.

Diane brought us back to the house and we got to see Cody’s cousins and his uncle Bill. We had some time before dinner and decided we would go sit down by the lake for a bit. It was so nice to just sit and relax and enjoy the beautiful view.

When we returned to the house dinner was almost ready. We had steak, corn on the cob, fresh salad, and smoothies for dessert. My mouth is watering now thinking back. We ended the day talking and relaxing on the couch, enjoying each other’s company and feeling utterly spoiled with our accommodations. Thanks again guys!!!

Cody and his aunt Diane.

Day 69

Mileage: 1,124.8 – 1,146.6

21.8 miles

We awoke bright and early ready to hit the trail knowing we only had 28.4 miles to our next pickup point (we’re spoiled). We moseyed our way through meadows of wildflowers, up and over Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley ski resorts while enjoying views of Lake Tahoe all day long. This section of trail continued to get better and better.

Day 70

Mileage: 1,146.6 – 1,153.2

6.6 miles

We woke up and strolled a leisurely sixish miles into Donner Pass where Cody’s friend Eric was stoked to pick us up. He arrived bumping music with a big smile on his face, excited to take us to the local breakfast hot spot.

Blackberry cream cheese filled French toast.

We got the true local experience taking fire roads all the way back to Eric’s place in Tahoe Vista. We had decided to take a zero the next day so we got our chores done right off the bat with a pit stop for some awesome tacos and a trip to a waterfall and a dam.

Bath time!!

Once everything was taken care of Eric took us across the state border into Nevada to watch the sunset from a local climbing spot. The sun setting over the snow-capped mountains with the lake glistening below is nothing short of magical. It’s very obvious why so many outdoorsy folk call this area home.

Day 71

Mileage: 0

Day two with Eric started off with a bang. We woke up to sunny skies and plans of a fun-filled day at the beach. We grabbed some breakfast burritos and ate them on the waterfront before going to the beach club where Eric worked.

He got us free wristbands that gave us access to the beach and all of the amenities. He took us out on a Zodiac for our first of many dips in the deep blue crystal clear water.

Once he started his workday we sat on the beach drinking the popular adult beverage White Claw taking in all of the sights while waiting for Kelsey’s friend Sarah. Once she arrived we took out a kayak, water bike, and paddle board to explore the Tahoe coast.

At the end of our beach day Eric took us out on one of the boats to enjoy sunset on the lake. This was an absolute awesome way to end our day and we couldn’t be more thankful. Our stay in Tahoe was unreal and it wouldn’t have been the same without Eric’s help. Thanks Eric, you’re the real deal.

Day 72

Mileage: 1,153.2 -1,177.2

24 miles

The next morning we were back on trail and ready to get a full day in. Partially because we were only a day away from our next Tahoe treat.

Peter Grubb Hut.

We were hiking along when we stumbled up to the Peter Grubb Hut. This is the very first shelter we have seen on the entire trail and it was the coolest place. We wished we could have stayed but more trail magic was waiting for us.

We met some new friends and hiked most of the day with them, chatting and laughing up and down the dusty trail. The day passed so quickly and we were to camp before we knew it, giddy for our last exciting visit with friends.

Day 73

Mileage: 1,177.2 – 1,198.7

21.5 miles

Cody’s friend Abuelo was at the Jackson Meadows campground with his friends and family ready to provide us with more trail magic. (If you thought this blog was about hiking you’d be wrong. It’s purely about Tahoe fun.) The only problem was trying to figure out where they were at and at what time they could pick us up at the road as there was no cell reception. Let’s just say our luck was magical. Two minutes after we got to the road we stuck out our thumbs thinking we could hitch to the parks information center to find where their tent sites were. The first car that came by pulled over and it happened to be Abuelo’s wife and daughter. Unbelievable! Like we said, Tahoe’s been magical. They scooped us up and took us to their camp happy to hear about our adventure.

We shared stories while they showered us with candy, soda, and more snacks while Abuelo cooked French toast and kielbasa on the griddle. Cody made a meal out of layering a slice of French toast, then kielbasa, then Nutella, followed by another slice of French toast, peanut butter, Carmel M&Ms and maple syrup. Later named the “Iceman” after an old nickname of his. It was caloric paradise.

We hung out for a while and had a blast but knew we had to keep the gravy train rolling. We said our goodbyes and slowly made our way back down the trail. We had to make it to Sierra City to do a small resupply at the general store.

We passed several good swimming holes but knew we didn’t have time to stop. We had to get into town, resupply, and get back on trail. We made it to the road and stuck out our thumbs, ready to hitch into Sierra City. A photographer named Cokey, originally from Baja Mexico, was walking down the road back to his car at the trailhead parking lot. He offered to give us a ride and went to the general store to resupply with us. He was in town to photograph the mountain biking event that was going on. He was hungry as well so we continued to chat and ended up going to dinner together. We all had burgers and shared stories of our travels. Cokey bought our dinners and even took us back to trail where he gave us one last parting gift; dried mango straight from Baja. Cokey was great company and we’re super thankful for everything he helped us with.

Kelsey and Cokey.

The entire Tahoe area was phenomenal. We had an absurd amount of fun that wouldn’t have been possible without the help from our many trail angel friends. We enjoyed every second of our time in Tahoe, which made it even harder to get back on trail. This is a very big thank you to all of the people that helped us along the way. You guys rock and so does Tahoe!

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Comments 1

  • Kathy : Sep 1st

    Hello Kelsey and Cody!
    Awesome blog as usual! The pictures are breathtaking! So happy you were able to re-connect with family and friends. Sounds like you had great fun and food!
    Stay safe and I look forward to the next blog and photos! 😘


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