Sunday, September 3, 2017

Tahoe Rim Trail Final Day

Mt. Rose to Spooner Summit- 24 miles

Today is supposed to be the second to last day with 15 miles but I wake up with a funny feeling.  I know I don't want to do 9 miles tomorrow to finish.  I want to finish today.  Dennis is supposed to meet me at Marlette Campground to give me water because there is no water in this stretch.  I decide I better have enough water for 24 miles just in case he doesn't have road access.  I am mentally prepared to walk the whole way to be done.

Tahoe Meadows is a beautiful lush meadow with lots of standing water and mosquitos.  After the meadow, I am back in the forest with intermittent views of Lake Tahoe.  I check my phone periodically for messages from Dennis; cell service is good over here.  Six miles in I get a message from him that the road to Marlette is closed so he won't be able to access it for resupply.  He is telling me to backtrack.  I laugh out loud and respond that there is no backtracking in thru-hiking.  That would be a waste of mileage and then I would still have this section to hike.  There is only moving forward.  I resolve that I will keep moving forward even if it takes me till midnight to finish.

I have 3 liters of water with me plus electrolytes.  I've been spot on the last week with using about 1 liter per 8 miles even when it's been super hot and humid so I know I'm good.  It's all a mind game now. 

A fast old dude comes up behind me and we chat for a bit.  He is out for one night and camping at Marlette.  We will leap frog for the rest of the day and he will be the only person I see all day.  It's a lonely stretch. 

I follow my same old routine to take care of myself but I am more diligent about it today since it's 24 miles.  I eat snacks more often and sit down more often.  I drink water and electrolytes, put on chapstick, pee and poop, and walk.  I take pictures and stop to gaze at the scenery.  Although I am attempting to be done today, I relish the views and the solitude.  I am so grateful for good health and this opportunity.

Marlette Lake comes into view and it's a weird little lake that sits right on the side of Lake Tahoe with just a thin strip of land separating them.

Fast Old Dude approaches behind me and calls out Hello.  He comments that we are almost to the campground and we can rest.  I let him know I am continuing on to Spooner Summit.  He acts shocked and says "You do realize that Spooner is another 9 miles?"  I say, "Yes indeed, I realize it."   He speeds off but then I see him backtracking to me about half a mile later.  He can't find the campground so I pull out the Guthook app and show him where we currently are and the campground is another half mile further.  He speeds off again. 

When I make it to Marlette, Fast Old Dude is sitting on the side of the trail looking forlorn.  I say, "I see you found the campground."  He says, "Yeah, but there's no water, the pump handle is broken." Oh yes, the pump handle is broken.  I assumed he had done his research before he came out there.  He said he had water enough to drink but not enough to cook his food.  I pull out my bladder to see how much I have left.  I have 1.5 liters and offer him half a liter.  One liter will get me 9 more miles.  He refuses because it's a hot day and I still have miles to make.  So I suggest that his only option is to scramble down the valley to Lake Marlette.  There are no creeks or springs out here.  He says that is what he will do and I bid him a final goodbye.

When I start climbing up the backside of Spooner Summit, the switchbacks never end.  OMG, the switchbacks never end.  I alternate between crying hysterically and belting out song lyrics.  Cry, sing, cry, sing, cry, sing.  This hike is never going to end.  I just keep thinking that I'm walking to Dennis and I don't have to hike tomorrow.

I finally get on top Spooner and the views of Lake Tahoe take my breath away.  Like the whole hike was worth it just for these final sunset views of the lake.  I cry again because it's so beautiful.

I walk along Spooner ridge for a few miles and a rainstorm rolls over so I have to put on raingear.  It passes quickly, thank goodness. 

I have Rihanna's Shine Like a Diamond on repeat and listen to this about 20 times.  Then I switch to Billy Joel's Piano Man and listen to that over and over, belting out the lyrics.  There's no one out here and I am screaming into the wind.

I'm bawling my eyes out when I finally see the parking lot at Spooner Summit.  It's 8pm.  I can hear Nala barking.  There is Dennis with his super duper sonic headlamp.  And then I'm done.  I can't believe I'm done. 

I couldn't have done it without Dennis and his positive energy.  He had Olive Garden salad and ravioli for me. We sat on the rocks by the Spooner Summit sign and ate our food, crescent moon shining overhead.

Photos can be found on my Instagram @tinahikes

Author of Lola Hikes the Icy Mountain
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lola-Hikes-Mountain-Tina-Fernando/dp/1524656089/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491443809&sr=8-1&keywords=lola+hikes+the+icy+mountain
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Tahoe Rim Trail Day 12

Martis Peak Rd to Mt. Rose- 16 miles

My legs feel fresh after having a shorter day yesterday and I stride into the sunrise with purpose.  This day I will enter the Mt. Rose Wilderness and climb over Mt. Baldy (9271 feet), Rose Knob (9700 feet) and Relay Peak (10, 330 feet).  It's shaping up to be a heavy day.

I walk through forests until the climbing starts.  Periodically, I am treated to vast views of Lake Tahoe.  I am now on the north end of the lake and see the entire expanse that I've hiked in the last 12 days.  It is mind boggling and I am very pleased with myself.

Right before starting the climb to Mt. Baldy, I lose the trail.  There is a dirt road crossing and the trail continues on the other side.  But the trail peters out and has been totally washed away by rain.  You can see the erosion and mess storms have created, leaving no discernible path.  I bushwhack around for about 15 minutes and decide this is a sure way to get lost so I backtrack to the dirt road.  According to the Guthook app, the trail seems to run right along the road so I start walking up the road, monitoring the app to make sure they are aligned.  I pop out on top of the hill and there is my Tahoe Rim sign.  Breathing a sigh of relief, I continue up Mt. Baldy.

A runner passes me but stops and drills me with questions.  Thru hiking? How many days? Where did you start? And then he says. "OMG, you are almost done!"  I stand there stunned just staring at him.  He continues on and I stand there and look out over Lake Tahoe for a few minutes absorbing his words.  Yes, I'm almost done.  After this day, only 24 miles.  I can't believe it.  I might actually pull this off.

I love this section so far with the wide open views and funny geological formations that stick out of the slab cliffs.  It's my favorite section so far.

Relay Peak blows by me like nothing.  The switchbacks are so long and flat, I don't even feel the climb.  I can see into Carson Valley and over Lake Tahoe from the top.  And then I start descending and am glad I'm going clockwise because the climb up this thing counter clockwise would have been gnarly.

I descend fast, switchbacking all the way down into the valley.  It's getting late in the day and I'm back in the forest.  I feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and feel like I'm being watched.  I think of bears and mountain lions. It's getting to be their time of day towards dusk.  I don't see anything but I have the heebie jeebies nonetheless.

Galena Falls appears as I round a switchback and I'm surprised and elated.  It's the most water I've seen the whole trail and it's beautiful.  Sparkling in the sunset as it cascades over rocks.

Then I start seeing more people because I am close to the Mt. Rose trailhead.  A lady walks by in a bikini along with her friend that has long grey chest hairs with gold medallions slung around his neck.  Hmmmm.

And then I am at the Mt. Rose trailhead and Dennis is plying me with Panda Express which I eat in 17 seconds flat. 

Photos can be found on my Instagram @tinahikes

Author of Lola Hikes the Icy Mountain
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lola-Hikes-Mountain-Tina-Fernando/dp/1524656089/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491443809&sr=8-1&keywords=lola+hikes+the+icy+mountain
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Tahoe Rim Trail Day 11

Watson Lake to Martis Peak Road- 11 miles

I changed the itinerary to break up the 27 miles between Watson Lake and Mt. Rose a bit more.  Dennis reconned Martis Peak Road and it's open access.  There is very little water from here on out so I carried 3 liters per day plus electrolytes.

I leap frog with the Military Ladies again today.  I feel some comraderie and have fun chatting with them periodically.  It's the weekend so there are a ton of people out here again.  Brockway  Summit Trailhead is a hot spot with mountain bikers galore again.  A mountain biker appears beside me and bumps me with his handlebars.  Frickin' A, dude! I yell at him.  He mumbles Excuse Me and speeds off, spewing dirt and rocks all over my shins.  AHHHHHHHH!  I scream after him.  Ugh.  Sorry if you are a mountain biker but I hope you have better etiquette than that!

I had to cross the 267 freeway to get to the other side of the trailhead and it was so busy, it took me about 10 minutes to get across.  Wow, so much traffic on this road! 

The Military Ladies got off at Brockway Summit.  It made me wish I was done too.

It was a very easy day with just a couple mile climb up to Martis Peak.  In the last half mile, guess who I caught up with? Slow Lady with Dog!  I thought I had left her in the dust!  That's when I realized she was doing high miles, going for 18 that day.  We chatted for a bit. I thought I was a slow talker with my drunken country bumpkin accent but she was a slooooow talker.  We made it to Martis Peak Rd and I gave her more water.  I gave her dog, Hazel, water and treats too.  That would be the last time I saw her. 

Dennis had a Subway sandwich for me which I devoured in 13 seconds.  I was finished hiking by 2:30pm and it felt odd to be done so early!

Photos can be found on my Instagram @tinahikes

Author of Lola Hikes the Icy Mountain
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lola-Hikes-Mountain-Tina-Fernando/dp/1524656089/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491443809&sr=8-1&keywords=lola+hikes+the+icy+mountain
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Tahoe Rim Trail Days 9 & 10

Tahoe City- Zero Day

I took a zero day in Tahoe City which means I didn't do any mileage.  I did laundry, walked around Tahoe City for about 10 minutes, and went to soak my feet in Lake Tahoe.  The dogs had fun playing in the lake too.  It's tough being a Resupply Dog, you know. 

Tahoe City to Watson Lake- 13 miles

There is zero water between Tahoe City and Watson Lake so I carry 3 liters of water plus my electrolytes.  It is super hot and humid.

OMG, I see Slow Lady with Dog!!  She had to get off trail for a day because her van got broken into by a bear at Kingsbury North!  Now she is back and rocking it.  She may be slow but she starts early, ends late, and goes far. 

The climb out of Tahoe City gets a lot of hype but I didn't think it was bad.  It was just like any other climb out of any other trailhead.  There is a crap ton of people out here today though.  I count 38 mountain bikers, 7 backpackers, and countless day hikers.  The mountain bikers are all coming from Watson Lake and there are heavy duty switchbacks coming up from the lake for about 5 miles.  I find great amusement in watching them walking their bikes up.  I get a grim satisfaction from their suffering.  Only a few are courteous enough to call out or ring a bell when  behind me.  More often than not, they come right up behind me and wobble on their two wheels waiting for me to notice and move aside.  Sorry but I don't hear you.  You need to call out  Behind You or On Your Left or Hello, ANYTHING. 

I leap frog with 4 backpacking ladies who are section hikers.  They are super fast and militant in their hiking although I don't think they are military.  They don't speak to me at first.  It takes a few passes to get them talking and then they are super friendly.  I get plied with questions about snow levels at Freel Peak and if Star Lake is swimmable.  They are carrying camp chairs which I envy.

Photos can be found on my Instagram @tinahikes

Author of Lola Hikes the Icy Mountain
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lola-Hikes-Mountain-Tina-Fernando/dp/1524656089/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491443809&sr=8-1&keywords=lola+hikes+the+icy+mountain
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Tahoe Rim Trail Day 8

Barker Pass to Tahoe City- 16 miles

Nancy let me know last night that she is permanently off trail so I will continue on my own. 

Barker Pass to Tahoe City was very uneventful.  I walked through lots of forest and walked on a fair amount of jeep roads.  The jeep roads were very uninteresting.  There were still good water sources in this section so I was able to filter as needed.

I saw 4 mountain bikers all day and that was it.  I am really not seeing very many people.  Where are all the thru-hikers?

I'm super tired but feel really good.  So far I have not been sore at all which is pretty amazing.  My feet hurt and are swollen but that's a given.  I have one little blister on my heel from walking in wet socks up Dick's Pass.

There is construction around the parking lot in Tahoe City and the trail gets rerouted onto a paved bike path.  It pops me out onto the freeway and Dennis picks me up.  Since Nancy is off trail, Dennis will shuttle me to the trailheads every day so I have only the essentials to carry and don't have to pack overnight gear.  This means I will get a shower and a hamburger every day!  Silver linings.

Photos can be found on my Instagram @tinahikes

Author of Lola Hikes the Icy Mountain
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lola-Hikes-Mountain-Tina-Fernando/dp/1524656089/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491443809&sr=8-1&keywords=lola+hikes+the+icy+mountain
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Tahoe Rim Trail Day 7

Dick's Lake to Barker Pass- 17.5 miles

This day will be 17.5 miles because one of our resupply points is not going to work out due to rough roads the truck can't access.  I will be glad to get out of Desolation Wilderness and off these rocky trails. 

Nancy lost her Fitbit going up Dick's Pass.  Bummer!

We walk through the land of lakes and streams and rock hop across multiple large water crossings.  My body is humming to the tune of the hike right now but I'm noticing large mood swings.  One moment I'm euphoric with the thrill of conquering a pass and the next minute I'm ready to quit.

I can see that Nancy is struggling and she informs me that she won't be able to go 17.5 miles.  I look up the options and there is really only one option and that's to take the Emerald Bay junction and walk out 4.5 miles.  I have one slice of cell service and am able to notify Dennis that Nancy will be coming out at that trailhead, hoping he got the message.  Nancy will be able to communicate with Dennis as she gets closer to the trailhead and more cell service.  I continue on to Barker Pass by myself and have zero cell service the rest of the day so I have no idea all day if things worked out on that end.  It causes me great anxiety and I am overly emotional the rest of the day.

I'm walking along and someone behind me says Hello!  I turn around and there's a dude with dread locks and hiking in red boxer shorts.  He's a thru-hiker, maybe even a PCT thru-hiker because he has a tiny pack and is going super fast.  He says, Did you happen to lose a Fitbit on Dick's Pass?  I was like WHAT! Serious!?  How do you even spot a teeny tiny grey Fitbit amongst a bunch of scree and rock on the side of a mountain?  Yep, got Nancy's Fitbit back.  This will make her day.

I'm starting to imagine things.  Every stump I see is a bear.  Every broken off golden colored log is a mountain lion.  There are rustlings, thumps and crashing noises in the forest.  I just keep walking.

All of a sudden, I hear a rattle, and I instinctively jump out of the trail to my right.  There is a rattlesnake half in the trail, his head raised at me and his tail going a mile a minute.  "Fuck! Shit!" I yell!  I stand there staring at him while he slithers away, my heart beating in my chest.  I think about my friend Georgia's, father-in-law, who just got bit by a rattle snake a few weeks ago and was in intensive care with over 20 vials of anti-venin pumped into him.  That could have been very, very bad.  So then every cricket I hear or movement along the side of the trail is a rattle snake.  I'm jumpy for several miles but that eventually wanes the more tired I get. 

I pass Richardson Lake and filter water.  The Rubicon Jamboree is held here and I can hear jeeps roaring all over the place.  It sounds like a raceway.  I run across a Weird Dude with Dog.  He won't make eye contact or say Hi.  Trail people are very friendly so if you don't talk to me when I say Hi, I will count you as a weirdo.  I kept my eye on him while I was filtering water.

I am so happy when I see the Desolation Wilderness sign, meaning that I have exited that vast expanse of rock. 

The last couple of miles I was a wimpering, crying mess.  I have never been so happy in my life to see the truck shining at the top of Barker Pass.  I could hear Dennis whistling for me and he had an ice cold Corona popped open!  I'm a lucky gal!  Dennis said he talked to Dread Lock Boxer Shorts and Weird Dude with Dog.  He asked them if they had seen the lady with pink hair and they gave him status reports on my whereabouts.  He was able to get Weird Dude with Dog to talk quite a bit but that's Dennis for ya.  He can get anyone to talk.

This was the hardest day of the whole hike for me.  I was very emotional that day and it takes a toll.

Photos can be found on my Instagram @tinahikes

Author of Lola Hikes the Icy Mountain
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lola-Hikes-Mountain-Tina-Fernando/dp/1524656089/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491443809&sr=8-1&keywords=lola+hikes+the+icy+mountain
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Tahoe Rim Trail Day 6

Lake Aloha to Dick's Lake- 9 miles

Hammock Guy stopped by in the morning to see if we wanted to hike with him to figure out how to get out of there but we take too long to pack up so we waved him on.  It was very nice of him to offer though.

We studied the map and figured we needed to stay between the Lake Aloha shoreline and a little body of water called Lake Le Conte.  We navigated around the obstacles and found the trail on the other side within about half an hour.

We were walking along and a dude passes us and says "Happy Trails!"  I turn and look and it's the guy we met on the first day eating Mike & Ike's under the shade tree.  Happy Trails! Hey, I remember you!  He's going counter clockwise and is getting off trail at Echo Lake.  He's tired and needs a rest.

Good thing we didn't push on to Heather Lake last night because there was no place to camp there.  It was all lake and steep granite.

Now we get to the part where we start climbing to go up Dick's pass.  Dick's is at elevation 9380 feet.  It's only about a 1400 foot climb from where we are but we get hit with multiple rounds of thunder/lightning/hail/pouring rain as we head up.  We don rain gear and hide under a grove of trees for about an hour waiting for the first lightning rounds to pass.  A couple of hikers walk by wrapped in their tents. 

We start up again.  Slow, slow, slooow.  Everything is slower in the pelting rain.  This turns into the slowest climb of my life.  We pull over again and wait under a grove of trees for lightning to pass.  This storm is very freaking scary.  We get to the lip of the mountain where we think the pass tops out and, psych! Nope, gotta go a few more switchbacks.  I keep looking back to make sure Nancy is with me.  FINALLY, make it to the top.  I scream into the wind, "Suck it, Dick's Pass!!!"  And then we are out and over the top and out of the rain and going down, down, down.  I rate that as one of my top five most horrible hiking days ever. 

We make it to Dick's Lake and set up camp in a sweet spot.  I have no water left so I go filter down at the lake.  I make my dinner of Packit Gourmet Chicken and Dumplings and eat it in 9 seconds flat.  I feel surprisingly good after such a gnarly day.

Photos can be found on my Instagram @tinahikes

Author of Lola Hikes the Icy Mountain
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lola-Hikes-Mountain-Tina-Fernando/dp/1524656089/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491443809&sr=8-1&keywords=lola+hikes+the+icy+mountain
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lola-hikes-the-icy-mountain-tina-fernando/1125793085?ean=9781524656089

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