Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Day 66 : To Donner Summit

17 miles today
1497 miles to go

I am up before the sun. I am surprised at how cool it is this morning. I eat in my tent in the semi-darkness. Granola, instant breakfast, dehydrated fruit, mocha, wow! Eating a ‘real’ breakfast instead of a tortilla with peanut butter really improves my morale. Go Team! I pack quickly and as quietly as I can. The rustling of my bags sounds like thunder in the cool morning air. I climb out of the cool valley and up the drainage. Not super steep but enough to get me huffing and puffing. It's cool and comfortable, I'd say perfect hiking weather. The sky’s blue deepens and contrasts sharply with the greens of the trees. I can tell no one is walking in front of me this morning because the evening’s spider’s tripwires are stretched across the trail. They are all but invisible and the way I know is my face starts tickling. I no sooner wipe one off my face before another one hits me. I wonder if spiders ever figure out that building webs across trails is bad for business. The green grass is drenched with dew that sticks to my shoes and pant legs as I pass. The silvertip fir make this place look like a Christmas tree lot. The Jeffery or foxtail pines seem to be the ubiquitous trees around here, they do the living and dying. They look the part. There are pines in all stages of growth. Some are old and gnarly, snow has caused their trunks to be bent at odd shapes, like someone sat on them and the tree grew around the weight. A marmot chirps a warning about my presence, this is the first marmot I've heard do that this trip. I know in Washington marmots make a living squeaking and chirping when you're around. Two scrub jays argue in the trees, squawking about something really important by the tone it. I simply climb. Up and up. At the top I reach Squaw Valley Ski Resort. No one is skiing. There's not enough snow. It's ironic to me that so many people see this place ice and snow clad. The colors of blue, white, and gray being the colors they remember about this place. Now though. It's alive with colors, mostly green but the flowers add highlights of red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, pink. Everywhere I look the forest is alive and enjoying the early morning summer sun. Off in the distance is the deep blue expanse of Lake Tahoe. All of the development, people, cars invisible at this distance except for the occasional sparkle of a reflection of the sun off of a window. 

Back down I go, first across the top of the ridge north, then down across sharp reddish rocks that hurt my feet. I think my shoes are worn out and flattened. I feel every rock and people I step on. My shoes sort of sloosh around them. The midsoles have lost their backbone and conform to whatever surface I step on. This is quite uncomfortable to me. I think and Native Americans wearing moccasins, how much that would hurt right now, that's basically how my shoes are behaving. 

Down and down some more. There's water down here. I think to myself, “do I want to carry more water?” No, I'll wait till I get to the car. Steve said he's bringing a cold bottle of Gatorade. Something to look forward to when I get there. The hill up to Tinker's knob is steep, but I'm used to that. It's relatively short compared to the pass climbing I've been doing in the high Sierra. I walk up without stopping. I am fascinated by how much my body has changed. I seem to be able to keep this pace indefinitely, well at least until the food runs out. Not many other hikers today. Probably because it's a weekday. I do meet some that ask me about my hike. Where I started, how long it's been, what I've learned. They say that next time they come they'll bring cookies to pass out to Thru-hikers. I thought that was pretty cool of them. 

I reach the trailhead but not before gathering a few wildflowers for a bouquet for Vivi, my grand-daughter. Mountain flowers, I don't know if they'll survive, but it'll be fun to give them to her. The trailhead has a couple of coolers them at say, “PCT Hikers only” I open one and find ice cold sodas and bananas. I take one of each and drink my Coke on the way to the road. I meet Miles at the road sitting in the shade of the shed built over the tunnel shaft of the old transcontinental railroad. He's there with John, a trail angel passing out more trail magic. I sit only a few minutes before Steve pulls up and I am officially off the trail. 

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