Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 78 to 80 - Echo Lake to Donner Pass

July 13 - July 14
Day 78 to 80
Miles:  0+21 + 25 
Total Miles:  1140

Seven days off from a long distance trail can be a great opportunity to recover, but only a surface level recovery - In seven days my feet have only begun to heal.  The pain upon standing in the morning continued and actually became worse during this time.  Joint pain was increasing as well - my body must have recognized this first opportunity of more than a couple of rest days and decided I must be done with this business of hiking
and began flushing my feet with whatever fluids the body uses for this process in an attempt to do a proper job of recovery.

This is why, returning to the trail on July 12th, my body put up a protest of pain!  These first 3 days back on the trail were as painful as the first day I started off from the Mexican Border 80 days ago.  The body is so adaptable and in only 7 days of rest I had lost much of the gains made in the previous 80 days - my feet were sore all day, standing up after a rest was a process often requiring using my poles for support, and it took a good hour of hiking in the morning before I could walk without a limp or without wincing with each step.  But I was determined to make up time, and I knew the pain was just temporary.

The first day back, July 12th, was a long day that started in a soft, warm bed at my ex's home in Tucson, AZ and ended in my sleeping bag in a clearing 50 feet off the side of HWY 50, halfway between Lake Tahoe and Echo Lake.  I arrived at the last bus stop a few hours before dark and, not yet feeling comfortable with hitching alone, I decided to walk the 12 miles to Echo Lake and the Pacific Crest Trail.  I made it six miles before dark set in and found a cleared area off the side of the road to lay out my pad and sleeping bag and call it a night.  My head tired and dizzy from a long day of travel, I slept well.

The next day greeted me with a bee sting as I was lacing up my shoes - leaning with one foot on a rotting tree that must have contained a bees hive.  Several swarmed around me in protest but in my dreary half-asleep state I didn't recognize the danger until it was too late.  The sting caused a reaction of cursing combined with running and jumping while waving my hands furiously to fend off the little bastards.'s good to be back!  

Fed up with walking on a busy highway I found a spot a half-mile back toward a wide shoulder and stuck out my thumb.  It wasn't too long before an old battered pickup truck pulled over.  A disheveled looking older couple on the bench seat made room for me to slide in next to them.  Half asleep and cigarettes in both their hands, they looked either hung over or still drunk from a prior night of debauchery.  They said only a few words for the next six miles as they struggled just to stay in their lane.  I was relieved to jump out near the turn off to Echo Lake Resort still a mile or two from the trail, and with a quick wave they drove off without saying a word.  Not a few seconds later, standing and determine which way I needed to walk, a car pulls over with a gaggle of hikers heading for the trail and waves me over!  Beef Nugget, Peels and The Tourist invite me to jump in for the short ride and I am grateful to see familiar faces.

Trail covered with yellow flowering Mule's Ear
The next couple of days are a blur.  Weather it was the pain in my feet or the shock of being back on the trail, I failed to update anything but the basics in my journal - July 13th:  "Slept near Phipps Creek with Nugget, Peels, Fall Risk and The Tourist.  21 miles."  July 14th:  "Slept near Whiskey Creek with Fall Risk, Peels and Night Watch.  25 miles"  The hiking in this stretch wove through undulating hills covered with the yellow-flowering Mule's Ear - the broad soft leaves of which is a perfect substitute for toilet paper.  I never had to test this, however, as I always carried a substantial roll of TP.  Still in the Sierras - the farther north I walked, the softer and greener the trail became.  I am glad to be back on the trail again.

Lake Aloha in Desolation Wilderness

Trail passes under a ski lift at Squaw Valley


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PCT Northern Terminus

PCT Northern Terminus
On September 30, 2012 I reached the Northern Terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail. Thanks to everybody who supported and followed my journey. It was a life-changing experience!