Day 63-68: Hitting a Wall

Day 63 (Monday, June 20): Bus to Bishop, Drive to Carson Pass. Carson Pass (1076.79) to Showers Lake (1081.93), 5.14 miles. (up/down: +740/-647)
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.
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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!

 

Day 62-63: Hung Over the Edge

Day 62 (Saturday, June 18): Diaz Creek (741.65) to Horseshoe Meadow Campground via Mulkey Pass (744.51), (2.86+1.7) 4.56 miles. (up/down: +850/-667)

I made it through the night. The Diamox made me have to pee like a race horse though – getting up 3 times in the night. It was still hard to do anything this morning. My brain still felt like it was going to explode and it was hard to move (both from being weak and lightheaded). I wasn’t hungry but knew I had to consume something, so I brewed up some coca tea and had some fruit snacks. I ever so slowly packed up camp as I saw Honey was still in her tent and neither of us were in a huge hurry.
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Today’s climb was the slowest yet. I thought I my legs were going to give out and/or I would just fall over and pass out. We (Honey and I) were barely making a 1.75 miles an hour, but boy was I glad to have some one with me. As we got higher and further, we stopped for breaks more frequently. Many hikers passed us, one was going just about as slow as us. Roscoe – we liked him! Finally we made it to the first pass that would lead us into Lone Pine just before 10 am.

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Hooray! But it wasn’t over. We still had about 2 miles to the campground with no guarantee of a hitch. Thankfully the hike was all downhill to the beautiful meadow providing vast views of the Sierra Mountains (including Whitney), streams and wildlife. We got down to the stream in the meadow and took a short break on a rock enjoying the views and envying the last uphill climb, even though it was maybe only 60-75 ft.
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We had made it to the Campground!…Well the road to the campground. The closest facilities were about  a quarter mile up. I was still feeling like shit and instantly dropped my pack on the side of the road. Roscoe and Honey thought about walking down the road East towards Lone Pine. I sat and didn’t move an convinced them that this was the only road up or down. If we walk down, anyone leaving might pick up hikers behind us first. So we stayed where the trail met the road. Honey and I took the short but excruciating walk (felt like the worse possible hangover) to the bathrooms and water. We thought we say trail magic, but just turned out to be a group hanging out for the day – bummer. There were a lot of folks out day-hiking, and we knew we’d be able to get a ride from someone when they finished – but that could be hours from now.

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Road to Horseshoe Meadows

We walked back to our packs, which sat just behind the sign marking Bear Country. Now that we were not moving and there was a slight breeze, we felt a bit chilled and laid on the pavement..ooh that felt nice. Within moments we were blocking a white SUV heading out. They probably would have stopped regardless, but they offered us a ride! They had just dropped off their kids and picked up another hiker on the way down with just enough room left for the 3 of us and our packs. The ride down to Lone Pine was INSANE! I knew we were up pretty high, but when you’re in it (the mountains) there is really no reference point as the valleys are still very high. As soon was we come over the ridge, holy shit, we were high! It was like coming over a roller coaster, only multiply the drop by 100. After a long drive down full of switch backs, and thankfully my fruit snacks and quarter of a Bobo’s bar stayed in my stomach, we pulled into Lone Pine.

First stop was the Whitney Portal Hostel where I would spend the next night or two. My brain and body was still very foggy but could feel a very minor improvement. Honey and I got cleaned up and headed over to Alabama Hills Cafe for lunch and to do laundry next door. Delicious! If I had the money, I would have gone 3 times in a row like Honey over the next day and a half, but I had to save my change. At least I had enough left overs to last me until lunch the next day.
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Over the next day and a half, I am pretty sure I walked the length of Lone Pine at least 20 times in 100 degree hat. That is not hard to do when the main part of town stretches only half a mile. After the first day, I was feeling much better! The first night in the hostel was with Honey, Anmie (who I met in KM), a dad and 16 year old son, and a young guy. A good group who shared lots of goodies (whiskey, muddy buddies, chips and guac), laughs and solid conversation. Silence and lights out by 9pm. On Sunday, I tried to walk 2.5 miles along the highway to the visitors center. I got halfway, said screw it and turned around – at least I got some steps and sweat in. The second night was not as peaceful. A new group of hikers came to stay – these one’s enjoyed to party. Finally by about 10 we made them turn the light off.

The PCT is constantly testing you…this was my first big test. I had to make a judgement call for my well-being. Tomorrow I would take the bus to Bishop and meet my aunt and uncle who would bounce me up the trail. There was no way I could go back up 10,000 ft. Whitney would have to wait.

 

Day 61: Highs and Lows

Day 61 (Friday, June 17): mi 720.4 to Diaz Creek (741.65), 21.25 miles. (up/down: +3907/-3235 ft).

I woke up to find a strange thing had happened to my bear can. It had not been moved, but there was a decent sized dent and scuff on the top of it. There were no scratches like you’d expect from an animal. It almost appeared like a rock fell on it, but nothing was in sight. A mystery!
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I packed up and left camp by 6:45, continuing up to find Cow Creek – not knowing if I would find more water or not. Thankfully there was still salvageable water that would get me up and over the mountain in front of me. It was a slow stuggle as I climbed, but provided beautiful views of the valley below. I leapfrogged shortly with another hiker who was also struggling with the thin air; others whizzed by. Finally I reached the top and could see far far away to the snow mountains ahead. From here it was  a nice decent down to water! I took a short break, did some blister first aid, and filled up on enough ice cold water to get me 3 “flat” miles to another water source.
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I arrived to Death Canyon Creek which surprisingly had a beautiful flow and many others were also taking their lunch break here. After about an hour I decided to make way. There were 10 miles until the next water source and I was considering dry camping at a spring 5 miles away to make for an easier 5 mile day as I was exhausted from the elevation.
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I made my way up to nearly 11000 ft going less than 2 mph, painfully slow. My pack was nearly just as heavy as it was when I left Kennedy Meadows as my appetite has been depressed since getting into such high altitude. I I took a short break near Owen’s Peak where there was full cell service along with a crazy view toward Lone Pine – we could see how high up we really were. I had made myself eat a full meal at lunch and was starting to feel quite sick – nauseous, weak, light headed. I could barely continue, and finally made it to my goal of 15 miles at the dry spring. Well I made it to the junction, and had no intention of walking the 1/3 mile to check the accuracy of the water report.

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I was still feeling aweful and like my head was going to explode. I was at 10400 ft and knew I had to get as low as possible and that I would have to push on another 5.5 miles to Diaz Creek and campsites that was almost 1000 ft lower. I cried on my way down. Well my body tried to cry, but I held back as I could barely breathe as is. I was still nauseous, short of breath, weak, could feel my brain expanding and could not walk in straight line (well less than usual). I was not cut out for the Sierra – at least not now. Strange too, as I was just fine when I went to over 13000 ft in Peru. I think one big problem was how quickly I pushed myself out of KM. I decided that tomorrow I would go down in to Lone Pine and re-evaluate. I was just hoping I could get there with out any major problems or need for rescue.

I finally arrived to Diaz Creek and found Honey! I was so happy to see someone I knew and could rely on. I dumped my stuff and started to set up camp. I could barely stand. I confided to Honey that I was in bad shape and she so graciously offered me some of her Diamox (altitude pills). Shortly after, I headed down to the creek to get water. I didn’t make it very far before I had to pull over behind a tree to throw up. Everything I had eaten that day and drank with in the last few hours came up. Shit – I hoped I could get out tomorrow okay. I continued down to get water and barely made it back to my tent with my head in a fog. I returned to Honey and asked if she would walk out tomorrow with me.

Day 60: Into the Sierra

Day 60 (Thursday, June 16): Kennedy Meadows Store (.77 road + mi 702.23) to mi 720.42, 18.96 miles. (up/down:+4184/-1300)

Last night I met Legend (from MN) and Raven (from UT) who are past and present hikers who are also trail angeling.  They would be making pancakes at the bridge over the river. So when I was all packed I headed to the bridge and was greeted by Legend with a coffee and pancake order as well as more great and thought provoking conversation. Shortly after Raven and Anmi joined us. I would have liked to stay all morning but knew I needed to get some miles in. I hit trail at 7:40.

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I stopped at the delightful Kern River for a short break and water as the rest of the way until I’d meet the river again in about 10 miles where iffy. Not too long later, I stopped at a crappy creek to get a little more water and was met with the presence of a trail crew…at least I assume so. I never saw people, but met their horses and dogs, one of which was very intrigued by my water filter.

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After a long climb up hill, the trail finally leveled out into a beautiful meadow. I could have walked in that all day. I also got lucky with the spring on the way as the water report had me worried it might be dry. All along my way here, I ran into a lot of people hiking the opposite way, including a couple big groups. The rest of the afternoon I only saw north bounders.

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I reached my goal of the Kern River just before 3:30. I stopped for a nice break, but it was too early for me to stop. There was another campsite and creek a few miles up I would go to.

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It was a nice gradual climb up as the temperature slowly started to go down. I reached the trees, but never reached the campsite or water. It seemed to be non existent and dry. I wss nearly out of water and the trail started to climb very steeply. I was lucky to find a pool of water up the trail but pressed on slowly and with damaged motivation.

Every once in a while, I’d find a somewhat suitable spot I could set up my tent. Though it was still before 6  and figured if I’ve gone this far, I might as well keep going. After an unrelenting climb I finally called it quits at a nice little spot. I didn’t see people for a couple hours, and just wished someone would stop and camp with me. I didn’t want to spend my first night in the Sierra alone. There is a reason bear cans are required… As dark approached 3 hikers passed by but pushed on. Looks like I’d be camping alone.

Day 59: Rest for the Wicked, Not for Me

Day 59 (Wednesday, June 15): Manter Creek (mi 693.55) to Kennedy Meadows Store (mi 702.23 + .77 mi on Sherman Pass Rd), 9.48 miles. (up/down: +771/-796 ft)

We left camp around 6:45 and made our way to KM. It was beautiful weather and awesome terrain and scenery through the basin. Just following rolling hills with frequent shade until we got to the Kern River. From here I would say bye to my dad and stepmom and just meet them 4.5 miles later at the store.

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After the river it became more exposed and hot even though still morning. I made it to mile marker 700 (woohoo over half way)! From here the trail got a little tricky as it passed through a couple washes and near sandy roads – I hoped my dad would figure it out.

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I finally reached the road and started the walk up the paved today to the store. It was longer and hotter than I was expecting but worth the round of applause upon arrival to the store. I knew my dad and step mom wouldn’t want to hike the road so I drove down to meet them.

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After waiting sometime I finally saw two heads in the distance that looked like them (thought I could see the orange bandana). However, they took a turn off trail and I saw them disappear being a hill. I still want certain if it was them, but worried they would get lost if it was. I waited sometime, not seeing anyone else resembling them. They should have been out by now. And if that couple were them, either they were long gone or would have turned around by now. I saw an older couple emerge on the road, and I asked if they had seen my older couple – they had only seen “kids”. That must have been then then. So off I went to find them back on trail in my crocs.

A short walk later, I came over a hill, and there they were! They had infact took the wrong turn but eventually turned back. They were every so grateful that I had the truck waiting for them at the road. From there we headed to Grumpy Bears for lunch.

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After a tasty burger and frustrating logistical planning of when and where I would meet them again (had planned to do Mammoth to Toulumne, but changed mind) and food sorting, we said so long. The rest of the evening I relaxed on the store porch and resorted my food again to try and rid some additional weight.

Kennedy Meadows is a place many look forward to. It’s no oasis. Many stay for a zero, but it wasn’t for me. I was ready to leave. If I hadn’t already set up camp, I would have hiked out. After dinner, I chatted with an array off hikers around a round table including various debates about hiker ethics. With plans of leaving in the morning, we slowly said goodnight and retired to our tents.

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Day 58: Risk

Day 58 (Tuesday, June 14): 3.5 miles on Chimney Basin Rd + PCT mile 687.8 to Manter Creek (693.52), 9.22 miles.

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This morning we drove from Bridgeport to Kennedy Meadow. We had some car trouble along the way and had to stop in Bishop to get it checked out. Thankfully they said it was okay to keep driving as long as the engine light wasn’t flashing. It was very interesting to drive through the recent burn and to see so much fresh char. We passed the closed Crane brake rd which would require us to get a ride all the way around to Walker Pass and come from the south. Though shortly after we passed  Chimney Basin Road which was only closed to thru traffic as the road was supposedly washed out a mile down. A light bulb went off.  Perhaps another option as my companions (dad and stepmom) wanted the easiest/shortest option.

We arrived to Kennedy Meadows – not as magical as I was thinking, but still filled to the brim with hikers. I saw a few I recognized which was surprising as I’d been off trail for so long. I also ran into Honey again (who I met at Cajon Pass McDs)! We caught up on how things have been and said or goodbyes. I would be headed south to do the section back to KM and she was headed north that afternoon.

We finally found Scott who kindly offered us a ride on Facebook. To my surprise it happened to be Devilfish who was volunteering at Ziggy and the Bear!  After some deliberation and map studying we decided to checkout Chimney Basin Rd and decided to risk the unknown and try this way versus the 2 hour ride to the campground.

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We crossed the road closed gate and were on our own. It was 1:42 and warm,  but not unbarable. We passed a few houses and storage containers out in the middle of no where. Thankfully no one came out with shotguns accusing us of trespassing, which we probably accidently did as we missed one of the road/trail junctions. Thank goodness for my gps as my hikerbot app wasn’t  completely accurate. The road was never washed out,  but did disappear with over growth and brush. It was a steady and gradual incline all the way up to the trail. It was slow going with my dad and step mom with their fresh legs,  but gave me an excuse to take it real lazy. Along the way we ran into a rattlesnake on trail; the fourth one I’ve seen but the first I was able to get a picture of before me or the snake ran away.

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Many breaks later we met the PCT at mile 687.8 around 4:50 and continued downhill from there. It was getting cooler and made for a nice walk. We weren’t sure how far we’d make it or when a decent campsite would show up. My step mom was struggling a bit so I offered to carry her pack part of the way to get us to camp before it got too dark. I needed to make up for the miles I missed and prepare for my heavy pack to come – it helps even out the weight distribution anyway.

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We finally made it to the beautiful rock basin and found a campsite near Manter Creek around 7:30. I didn’t sleep well,  but it was my best nights sleep on trail yet. Tomorrow we would have a short day to KM.

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Day 46-57: Sun & Surprises

Thursday, June 2 – Monday, June  13.

So perfect timing to get off trail! I luckily just missed the Chimney Creek Fire and dipped out during extremely high temperatures which led to quite a bit of snow melt.

On Thursday, we made a trip to Ikea for some couch shopping then hooked up at a local RV park. I then surprised my boss at work by just showing up (my co-workers new). It was definitely a shock for him. I got to do done catching up on the program and kids. That afternoon, I spent the day at the pool working as a staff with a handful of kiddos. It was so nice to see my kids and surprise them. Surprising kids with autism gives for an interesting experience : P That night we met my sister for dinner.

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I took my first shower in 10 days Friday morning before walking 2.5 miles back to work. There were very few kids at the program today, thus I had no one I needed to work with. There was a going away lunch for another coordinator so I tagged along. Yet again, I surprised everyone there because no one knew I was back. I was glad I joined – one of the most fun goodbye lunches for sure (complete with goodie bags and an awesome speech). I was also able to surprise some of my staff once back at AIM. It almost felt like I never left.

Saturday was another day for surprises. It was hard to not post anything prior to me coming back to Utah, but I didn’t want anyone to know. I took an Uber to my UFC Gym and confused/surprised on of my coaches – she had to take a double look. I just love seeing people’s faces when I show up unexpected (so far all good responses). I stuck around for kickboxing and yoga. Man, I sure miss hitting things. After walking so much, I’ve noticed my body has slowed down significantly. Running isn’t very doable anymore, and upper body strength is gone, but I could do squats all day!

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After the gym, my boyfriend came down to meet me with my pup, Dakota. It was so nice to see her and she was very excited to see me too. So excited, she of course had to attack me like usual, but this time with some more squeeling, running in circles, and gnawing. From there we took her to Dimple Dell for a walk, but it was way too hot for her feet so we made it a short loop back through the shade and stream. That afternoon, I took a nap! Holy cow, it’s been a while!

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Sunday, we took Kota for another hike. Somewhere she and James found near Roy, but was new to me. We started early, but not early enough. It got got quick. On the way back, Kota was dying; trying to stop in every tiny piece of shade. It got to the point where we had to carry her to give her a short break. We finally got back to the first big stream crossing where she just laid in the water. The rest of the she literally did not move, until we made her go to Petsmart to pick out a bone and get a nail trim. She was happy to go, but looked like me after a long day of walking – just hobbling. Poor pup.

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Monday was a long day. I bummed around the house, packed and sorted what would come with me back to Cali and what would stay, and caught up on computer work. Dakota still didn’t move all morning. Finally around 10, I dragged get outside to go potty. A few hours later she surprisingly acted like she wanted a walk. We made it one house down then she just laid in the street refusing to go either way. Silly pup.

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That afternoon I took the Trax down to Murray where Kaili (UFC Gym coach) picked me up so I could do a couple more classes before I departed (woohoo). Nice to catch up with my fit fam. After a couple classes, the manager took me back to the train station. I got to the station around 8 and my train didn’t leave until 11:30. It was going to be a long wait. The station didn’t even open until 10 so I waited outside joined by the occasional drunk and crackhead…and people are surprised when I say I’ve only been in down town Salt Lake just once.

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Can't you tell how thrilled I am to ride the Frontrunner for the first time

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All aboard! Loaded up for my 12 hour train ride. Thankfully it was overnight and I’d be getting some shut eye during the most awful/boring part – Nevada. I woke up just in time for the tail end of the sunrise. Once we finally hit the scenic part starting at the Truckee River I made my way to observation car to enjoy the views!

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The next 6 days I spent at my dad’s place about an hour from Tahoe doing a lot of yard work and projects…I gotta make money somehow! I helped build 2 gardens, take down gutters, clean wood floors, deep clean and power wash garage. I’m glad I had stuff to keep me busy or I would have been extremely bored. Each day I also walked to keep my legs in somewhat shape. Not too worry, I did relax as well. I even took another nap along with a trip to the River.

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Whipped Cream @ Squeeze In Truckee

Lastly, Monday was a travel day. My step mom had a friend visiting and we had to drive her to the Reno airport. Along the way we stopped in Truckee and Tahoe for some lake time. One stop was at Emerald Bay and had some miscommunication. I thought they had walked the mile down to the beach, so after parking that is where I headed. Oops. I guess they just were stopping at the Vista point for a picture. I had no cell service and couldn’t be reached. Thankfully I didn’t fall off a cliff like they worried, but I’m terribly sorry for making them worry and delaying their actual plans. After Reno, we drove a couple more hours to get us closer to Kennedy Meadows. Here my dad will park his car and a lovely trail angel will shuttle us down to the Chimney Creek Campground where my dad and step mom will join me for the 20 mile section to Kennedy Meadows.

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Emerald Bay

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Eagle Falls

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Bliss Beach

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