PCT Day 53: Woe is my calorie deficit

June 13

Mile 1062.3-1076.6 (14.3)

This morning, while eating my very cold rice and beans that had rehydrated overnight, I craved ice cream. Like a pint of Ben & Jerry’s or an It’s It bar. Or even something like a Snickers ice cream bar. I can’t remember the last time I had one of those. Or a Klondike bar. Anything sugary and fatty. 

I can feel my hunger in my bones, gnawing away at my strength. The elevation of the Sierra killed my appetite but increased my caloric needs. My body fat is low. I need it to fuel me and keep me warm. Now that I am hiking below 9000 feet and am hungry again, I am on the dregs of my last resupply. The bars are long gone, since it was easy to eat them in the Sierra. I am now eating food as quickly as I can rehydrate it, but it doesn’t feel like enough.

As I hiked out this morning, I wasn’t thinking these things as much as feeling them. My energy lagged once I burned through breakfast, but my next meal wasn’t ready yet. Hike, hike, hike, I told myself. South Lake Tahoe is less than 30 miles away! You can eat anything there!

The trail was gentle and I could have gone faster if I had fuel. I toyed with the idea of hiking right to town today, getting in late. Would I be able to eat? Or should I give myself a break today, recognize my real energy level, and get as close as I can to town, hitch in tomorrow morning?

I hiked over piles of boulders and then up around a mountain called The Nipple. The trail dipped into the forest and I found myself navigating snow again, but only for half a mile. Then back on a scree-filled ridge where the sun was strong enough that I exploded my pack and dried out all my damp gear. And ate some food, thank god.

I hiked more, over lots of snow. The north side of these little mountains still have big snow patches clinging to them. Often that means a steep mountain face with a sheet of snow clinging to it has one little trail of half-melted footprints going straight across. This is my route.

Eventually I was in the last mile to Carson Pass, and I met a nice couple out for a day hike. I talked with them for a moment, mentioned my motivation for getting to town, and immediately they offered me a ride. Carson Pass is 15 trail miles before the usual hitching spot for S Lake Tahoe, Echo Lake. I considered their offer as I walked to the parking lot.

At the Carson Pass visitors center, two Forest Service volunteers called over to me. I was welcomed into the porch and offered donuts, cold soda, apricots, chips, and other goodies. What heaven! They were happy to see a thru-hiker. I was over the moon. The couple from the trail, Pam and John, came over and we talked about the trail while I ate as much as I could without being disgusting.

And so I wound up in South Lake Tahoe. I wandered around the grocery store for almost an hour, talking with Spider on the phone the whole time, slowly putting together a resupply. I also bought a roast chicken, salad greens, strawberries, and avocados for town. I was salivating as I listed my resupply to Spider.

In the checkout line, I met Mike, who quickly offered me a place to stay for the night. He even drove me to the post office first to mail my bear canister to Spider. He had to go to a firefighter training this evening, but said I was welcome to shower, do laundry, and make myself at home.

So here I am, in a total food coma, after the most magical day ever, clean and rested. Immense gratitude to all the wonderful humans who made this possible.


7 thoughts on “PCT Day 53: Woe is my calorie deficit

  1. Loved this post. I’ve been off the AZT for over a month now. I’m well entrenched in civilization again, and have gained back 10 of the 25 pounds I lost while thru-hiking. Your post brought the whole thing right back for me though. It’s hard for people to understand the factors that make up such a calorie loss! Good luck!

  2. We loved meeting you and have thought about you every day-hoping the ominous looking weather northwest of here didn’t make things challenging for you- what an incredible young woman you are…strong and focused and driven and also incredibly sweet…Jon and I feel lucky to have crossed your path- you are carrying us with you on your journey! Be safe and keep posting…we love reading about your adventure……XOXO Jon and Pam

  3. We absolutely loved meeting you Claudia and have thought about you every day, hoping that the ominous looking weather north west of here didn’t cause you too much of a challenge.. You are truly a remarkable young woman- strong, motivated and determined- not to mention, incredibly personable and sweet…Jon and I feel lucky to have met you and you have definitely made a long lasting impression on us both- be safe…through your posts you carry us along on your adventure and for that we are grateful…..take good care…Pamela and Jon

  4. Hi Pam^
    I spoke with my good friend Pam about your trip!
    You’re so awesome! Great job!
    I’ve been thinking about that thru hike, but it seems so impossible!

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