Day 75 (1090.0) was a Zero day in South Lake Tahoe, and like most Zero days, I didn't take any pictures. South Lake Tahoe is a really nice outdoors/mountain/ski town. Filled with major grocery stores, a variety of restaurants and many tourists, I spent most of the day traveling around on foot to eat food or get food to eat later.
I get a bittersweet feeling every time I leave town. Though the trail is not always fun, generally I'm pretty happy when I'm hiking. That said, when leaving town, there are things that I tend to crave... such as a hot shower, ice cream or a bacon cheese burger. Also, my pack is usually 15-25 pounds heavier when leaving town due to my food resupply. Do I notice? YES, yes I notice and it hurts to think about. But as I think about it, I smile, because it's comical to do that type of thing to yourself time and time again and I know after 2 days of hiking, I will have consumed enough food for my backpack to feel comfortable. That, my friends, is worth smiling over.
After having a fairly lazy morning, I packed up and went to a Starbucks to work on uploading what would be the last of my on trail blog posts, while the group finished packing their gear up. Instead of calling a trail angel early on a weekend, we decided to try our luck hitch-hiking. It didn't take too long before everyone had a ride back to the trail.
The first few miles lead to Echo Lake, a popular recreational lake located 30 minutes (driving) West of South Lake Tahoe. I stopped with Mr. Clean and Backtrack to have a milkshake which I drank too quickly and gave myself brain freeze.
While we enjoyed our cold beverage and soaked up the warm sun, a women was being dropped off by her husband and was getting back on trail (PCT). Her name was Ranger and she had taken some time off to let her body recover. She had also lost her hiking partner so she planned on camping with or near us this night.
The many miles before Dicks Pass are littered with awe inspiring lakes, Aloha Lake being a highlight and where I chose to stop for lunch. For the rest of the afternoon I walked by myself. It was very warm causing the massive melt off to take of the trail.
As the trail climbed to Dicks Pass, the views got better and better. At the top I had cell service where I managed to connect up with Butterfingers, who had just arrived in South Lake Tahoe. Butterfingers, Early Bird and The Worm had gone into the Yosemite Valley from Tuolumne Meadows as many hikers did. It was great knowing they had made it past the dangerous snow bridge (Day 67). I suspected they would catch up with us eventually.
Also at the top of Dicks Pass, Ranger found good use of the last known cell service till who knows when. When all was done, Ranger and I enjoyed the view then started our way down together. The downhill side of Dicks Pass was quite difficult with enough snow that you couldn't avoid it, but it was very lose with lots of gaps between it and the ground. Imagine walking on snow when you foot post-holes through to an awkward rock slightly twisting your ankle. Over and over again. This is what I mean by difficult.
Slowly, we worked our way down to below snow line and I pushed ahead to try and make camp before sundown. The lower I went, the more it became apparent... the mosquitoes had spawned!
Forcing me to run at certain points, I eventually had to stop to refill my water for the night. This was the first real encounter with a swarm of mosquitoes that didn't care about bug spray, or clothes for that matter. They'd bite right through my shirt. So getting water consisted of setting down my pack, spraying 100% Deet on every inch I could, then running back and forth to get the mosquitoes away from my backpack. At this point I've surely been bitten at least 5 times. Then I run back to my pack to get all of my water containers out and start mixing my Aquamura. During the 5 minutes that took, I paced very quickly, constantly swatting at the flying trying to land on my shoulders. It would have been entertaining thing to watch. Fed up with the process, I quickly added the mixture to the 5 liters of water, stuffed it in my backpack and pushed the last mile and half to camp.
At some point I passed the group and where they had setup camp. Unwilling to push any further for the day, I setup camp solo and hid behind the mesh of my tent as the seemingly endless swarm of mosquitoes buzzed from every direction.
Cheers to reaching Mile 1100!