Sunday, July 3, 2016

Day 64 : Snow and Alpine Whiskey

26 miles today
1542 miles to go

I woke up late today, I don't know how much later but it was much brighter and the sun came up before I finished packing. Maybe laziness is setting in. I didn't eat my substitute breakfast in the dark today. I still only had a tortilla with peanut butter on it. A meager breakfast, at least it has a lot of calories, most of them from fat. I head out as soon as I'm ready but not at a hurry. What's the hurry? I am ahead of the schedule I set for myself. The snow in Washington is going to come when it comes whether I hurry or not. I really don't want to rush through this trip to simply say I did it. I want to have time to do the things I set out to do, so no rushing today.

A beautiful morning with the sun rays slanting through the trees. Insects lazily flying in the cool morning air shimmer. When they fly through the sun’s glance they sparkle like magical fairy dust. Snow is piled in drifts with wide open clear areas between them. The ground in the clear areas glistens with rivlets of snow melt moving across the top of the saturated earth. It's a bit messy trying to walk through this sloppy mud. It's not like I'm trying to keep my clothes clean, they have never been dirtier. They are also coming apart. I had a small rip on my right knee that I tried to tape. The tape started to roll up and stick to the hair on my knee. I thought I would pull the tape off as add a new piece. Instead of coming off it made a bigger rip. Which I used more tape to repair which is now rolling up and sticking to the hairs on my knee. Fortunately my knee is mostly bald now so it doesn't hurt as much as it did when it was pulling out all the hairs. My shirt ripped at some point. I'm not sure how but my right sleeve is about halfway to disconnect. Another thru-hiker suggested ripping both sleeves off. While I admit that would have a coolness factor all its own, I'd have to use more sunscreen from my dwindling supply. My shoes are beyond end of life, they provide little cushioning and they slip and slide around in the sand and gravel. The uppers are torn and worn out. Three more days, three more days and I can get new stuff, three more days till I reach Donner Summit. 

I reach a canyon from which I can see south Lake Tahoe and it's airport off in the distance. I check my phone. I have service! I phone my wife, Kelli, to see if anyone called her to bring me food while coming to meet me at Echo Summit. She said, “Yes, people are coming!” Yippee! That means I don't have to try to buy two days of resupply food at the Echo Summit store. I wonder who is coming? It would be really cool if Kelli came with. It didn't sound like she was coming though. I miss seeing her, maybe she is coming, why didn't I ask her? I want it to be her idea to come, that's why. I hope she comes. Who is really coming. Maybe they'll invite her to come with. The hours that it takes to walk the Echo Summit are filled with thoughts like these. 

My phone starts ringing about ten minutes before I arrive at Echo Summit. It's Kelli, “Where are you?” She came! “About ten minutes away! These last ten minutes are the easiest ten minutes so far. Kelli came! And she brought my sister Carol with her! That was so cool. Cool is not the word though. I really feel loved. Like I belong to someone. Like when this trip is over there is someone who really is supportive of what I'm doing and when I come home she'll be there for me. There is no place to park so she parks in the loading zone. She's so much more daring than me. I am a rule follower. She's not afraid to break the rules for the higher cause. That's one of the things I love about her. She makes me feel safe when I dare to do something crazy, like hike the PCT. I feel safe because I know she's ‘got my back.’ It's so awesome to live life with someone who is incredibly trustworthy and faithful. 

We hang out in the loading zone loading stuff. I unload my umbrella and other things from my pack that have outlived their usefulness and she loads them in her car. Then she unloads my resupply food and the three of us go through it and I take just the stuff I need for the next two days. Then I load my pack with my food. We then load the car with the food I'm not taking. All this loading and unloading legitimizes where she is parked, but it also makes me hungry. Well that's not true. I was hungry when I got here. So we decide to load up on some food at the store. Which also has a deli and an ice cream bar. Woo hoo! I get a ham sandwich, some chips and a Gatorade, my sister Carol generously bought for me. We go back to the loading zone and load up on lunch. Then it was time for ice cream. I forgot how messy ice cream cones are with a mustache and a beard. I smear ice cream around my face for awhile until finally mercifully it's gone. Note to self: no more ice cream cones until you shave. Get ice cream in a cup, or better yet a bowl, or best of all a tub! It was finally time to say goodbye. My heart hurt as I returned to the Thru-hiking task before me. Someday it'll be over and I'll be home again. 

I need water before heading off into the wilderness. I go back to my Thru-hiker comrades, a number of which had monopolized the shade under the tree in front of the store. None knew where or if a water source besides the lake existed. Many of them offered me their water as they were all going off trail to zero in south Lake Tahoe. What generous friends. I end up with the requisite liter and a half and set off down the trail. I've taken this route twice in the last two years. I know it pretty well. So I walk it knowing what to expect. It's interesting to travel through a place I've been before and to see how distorted my memory of it is. Some parts I remember as long, rush by in a seemingly short amount of time while other parts I don't remember at all. In fact there was an entire lake that I don't remember seeing before. Hours go by as I walk. My fourish deadline approaches, then passes, and I'm still walking. I'm walking into the anxiety zone. I am somewhat anxious. My plan when I left Echo Lake was to camp at Gilmore Lake. I just passed Gilmore lake. I have no alternative but to cross Dick’s Pass. I wasn't too excited about camping at Gilmore Lake. I want to go further. Dick’s Lake is on the other side of the pass. That's my new destination. So I climb. I meet another thru-hiker, Rainman. We climb the pass together. Shadows are lengthening. We reach the top and peer down the other side. Snow! Duh! Why did I not think of that. A long day just got longer. We begin following the tracks of the group we met. The group whose leader offered me alpine whiskey. When I told him I don't know what alpine whiskey is, he handed me his Gatorade bottle with a brownish liquid sloshing inside. “Whiskey at elevation,” he said. It tasted like whiskey. Anyway, we follow their tracks. The tracks would lead us down. I find a few places to glissade! Yay! Fun and faster the down climbing. I arrive at Dick’s Lake around six thirty. The rest of my remaining daylight is spent in setting up camp, cooking dinner and completing my chores. Fortunately I have enough water, having gotten more at the clear running stream I remembered from before. All in all a great day. Even the snow. I'm glad I went with my desire and didn't give in to anxiety. Doing the snow in the morning when it's icy would have been much more difficult and time consuming. Good day, goodnight.

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