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.