I left the Lone Pine on the bus to Bishop at 8:30. I spent a couple hours in Bishop running errands and spending more money than intended. I am so lucky that my family in CA is caring enough to help me out when needed. I met up with m Aunt and Uncle just before 2 for some lunch at Schat’s. A mighty good sandwich, big enough for two meals! From there we headed north where they would drop me off south of South Lake Tahoe. I originally planned to start back up at Ebbits Pass on Hwy 4, but they talked me into Hwy 88 at Carson Pass. In the turn of events that were about to conspire over the next 24 hours – I am so glad that the did!
After a 3-4 hour car ride, we arrived to Carson Pass and I hit trail again at 6:20. I hoped to make it in about 3 miles to Meiss Cabin. With all these hiccups occuring and being in civilization, the trail continues to get harder to return to. Again I thought, it would be so easy for me to just ride home with them. My motivation continued to dwindle – but i walked.
I made it to Meiss Cabin, but it was still plenty early. It was also the first day of summer, which technically means that it was suppose to be the longest day (in the end it felt no different). There was also no good tenting spot at the cabin, so I decided to push on to the lake – I wouldn’t have to spend time making dinner either as I had my sandwich for leftovers. I am glad I did, as I was rewarded with fantastic views towards the lake and of the surrounding sky and mountains. Despite my first actual creek crossing and wet feet for the duration of the evening, my motivation bumped back up a little.
It was turning to dusk in the valley. As the sun started to disappear behind the hills, so did the trail in the snow. Thankfully, it was very short sections of snow patches which were easy to navigate. However, when I made it to the lake – I was a bit lost. The trail vanished into the snow, and foot prints went both directions around the lake. I turned to my gps to see the map – but turned out to be little help. It showed the trail on both sides! The view with the sunset was amazing, and I was settled on the idea just to camp where I was standing. Not a minute later I saw a light! It was a headlamp! There were others here, I wasn;t alone, and they must be at the campsite. I followed the light and hopped back on the trail to find my own campsite right next to the stream/waterfall leaving the lake. I made it to camp at about 8:35, and enjoyed my sandwich for the second time.
Day 64 (Tuesday, June 21): Showers Lake to …. 1.82 miles x 2 + 5.14 = 8.78 miles
I let myself sleep in a little as I intended for a “short” 15 mile day to Aloha Lakes. Before suiting up my pack, I tried to find the trail. I was camped right next to the stream leaving the lake that was flowing heavily. On both sides were walls of snow following the cliffs. Apparently that’s where the trail was. I spent nearly an hour wandering around hoping my neighbors (3 friends just base camping for a couple days) would wake up so I could ask them if they knew where the trail was. They apparently were sleeping in too. I finally found the trail on the other side after some rock hopping and stream crossings. I returned to my pack and set off.
Two hours later, I managed to have gone 2 miles. The trail followed a steep snow covered hillside full of sun cups. From there, it was a crap shoot as to where the trail went. I had cell service and called my dad who is 2 hours away. I told him my circumstance and told him I’d keep him updated as I may not make it through. I was thankful to have my GPS to help navigate and trail find, however it could only help so much…The trail would disappear into the feet of snow, then reappear 100 ft later and 60 feet higher. If I wasn’t hiking in snow, I was hiking in puddles and creeks. As I got higher, the snow got deeper and the trail harder to find. More trees surrounded me, and the few footprints i was following pittered out. The forest was getting more dense, making the navigation even harder. I had re-evaluated earlier, and settled on hiking into South Lake Tahoe versus Aloha Lakes. I was about 6 miles away, but could not find my way. I saw a trail marker in the snow melt and got so excited. Maybe I could make it…Nope. 10 feet later the trail was gone. I made it to mi 1083.75.
My mental state was being battered. Just yesterday I went through the roller coaster of wanting to quit (first days back after a break are the hardest), but gratefully deciding to continue. Now that I was ready and excited to go on, the trail seemed to be fighting me and wanting me to quit. I had to make another judgement call. I could not safely or enjoyably navigate my way down the North side of this snow covered ridge alone, I had to turn around.
As soon as I turned around and started back towards Shower’s Lake, I started balling.
I took a break back at Showers Lake to rest and recollect my tattered emotions. On my way back, I ran into a crew of 4 PCT hikers who were heading north. I told them about my struggle, but told them I was confident they could handle it – I just couldn’t solo. They offered to go through with me, but I was beat both physically and emotionally and didn’t want to to do the same thing all over again.
My legs were beat from the snow hiking from the morning, and my emotions were exhausted making the final trek back to Carson Pass a difficult one. I finally made it back at 1:40. I spent a couple hours resting, and chatting with the Visitor Center volunteers and a day hiker, Nancy, waiting for her husband, Bob. They were a couple from Michigan (she even taught in Duluth) who come out yearly for some day hikes. Nancy and Bob gave me a ride into South Lake Tahoe to the Lake of the Sky Outfitters after getting some delicious smoothies.
At LOTS I ran into the same hikers I had crossed paths with earlier – they had made it through just fine – go figure. I spent some time here getting a game plan. My dad would meet me tomorrow and I would go back with him to Grass Valley until my event in South Lake Tahoe with the Humane Society on Sunday. In the mean time, I took the bus across town to Dog Dog Cat, a company sponsoring me, to introduce myself! From there, I went to a trail angel’s house for the night – Thanks Lauren and Prince (the cat)!
Day 65-68 (Wednesday, June 22 – Saturday, June 25):
My body and mind are beat. I am deficient of so many nutrients and brain power. The first couple days have been hard, barely able to make it up the backyard. I need protein, sleep, and an emotional boost. After a couple days and lots of healthy food later, I a feeling slightly better but still sluggish and strained up hills. I will be heading back to Tahoe tomorrow (Sunday) for my event with the Humane Society and will be getting back on trail. I am becoming more and more flexible. In just the time I was repacking my food bag and upcoming resupplies, my plan changed 3 times…. I hope all goes well from here. Wish me luck, little snow, and a hiking partner!