Mile 1072.5 to mile 1092.5
Twinkle’s alarm goes off at 6 a.m. and I feel like death. I don’t even want to open my eyes or unzip my sleeping bag. Every cell in my body is screaming from exhaustion and what feels like dehydration- a 40 mile hangover. So that’s what that feels like. But you know what? Anish did this shit last year every single day.
For sixty days.
Twinkle and I sit up in the cold morning and just sort of stare, and eventually the light hits us and I start to feel a tiny bit better. I make my plastic container of granola and Twinkle puts Foreigner’s Jukebox Hero on his ipod and we each take an earbud.
“Yeah,” I say. “I can get pumped today.” I eat more of my granola. “I think.”
Only 20 miles to Highway 50, where we can hitch to Tahoe.
20 miles on autopilot, running on fumes. up and over the mountain in the cold morning light, down to Carson pass. At Carson pass we find NotaChance, Mack and Guthrie! We missed our friends so much! There’s a little visitor’s center there and they’ve put out trail magic for us- pinneaple, pringles, cookies. Little cans of perrier. I eat some food, space the fuck out. Then it’s time to hike again- through a beautiful lush valley, where the mosquitoes I experienced last year are mercifully absent, then winding our way up and over a forested saddle. Clusters of day hikers, lakes that glitter in the light. I push myself to keep up with Guthrie and Twinkle- Guthrie needs pizza bad and is racing to the highway, and Guthrie’s “walking fast” stride is a light jog for me. So I’m jogging down the switchbacks, pack bouncing against my back, messed up shoulder strap biting into my right shoulder, shooting pains down my arm. We’re going fast, 40 mile hangover or no, and we reach the highway at 2:30. I have reception and a flood of text messages come in- Woody and Coughee are in Tahoe, as are Twigg, Lead Dog and Bearclaw. And then we realize- the whole group did this last 75 mile section in 48 hours.
“Our whole team just went into beast mode,” says the most recent text, from Woody. Twigg and Lead dog win- they hiked the 75 miles in 40 hours, in a rush to get to the Echo Lake post office by noon. We learn later that they did a 50 mile day- hiking from 8 a.m. until 5 a.m. the next morning.
75 miles in 48 hours- because sometimes, apparently, the pct stops being a thru-hike and becomes more of an ultra.
We get a ride to Tahoe from a nice dude, Twinkle, Guthrie and I, and he drops us off at the post office which we discover, after he drives away, is the wrong post office. Tahoe is sprawling strip malls and wide avenues choked with traffic, and the post office we need is five miles away. And if I remember correctly, the bus runs about once an hour. I am exhausted beyond belief- I feel as though I’ve just crossed the finish line of some sort of epic endurance challenge and now, instead of resting and eating snacks, I have to navigate all this.
And then we decide to stop into Lake of the Sky outfitters, and everything is better.
They have a room with a couch in it, a jar of cookies, a trail register. A list of trail angels that give rides. We immediately relax- a nice trail angel named Mike drives us to the post office and then all the way to the economy inn, a noisy, ramshackle place on the nevada/california state line where Coughee, Woody, NotaChance and Mack all have a room. We pile in- the windows are thrown open, packs are stacked against the walls, empty beer bottles litter the tables. I take a shower, trashing the bathroom more than it already is. I feel delerious, out of it. I cross the street to the grocery store- there are crowds everywhere, strange looking people wearing bright, new clothing, flowing in and out of the bars and restaurants. I buy roast turkey, kale salad, a pound and a half of blueberries. I have a painful canker sore on my tongue-
“Malnutrition,” says NotaChance. “It happens on the trail.”
Kale, though. That oughta do it.
Later everyone goes to the bar and I sit and watch them eat pizza, surreptitiously write blog posts on my phone. Afterward we want to go to karaoke but it does or does not exist, eventually it’s time for bed. I make my bed on the good hard hotel carpet and collapse, sleeping bag up around my ears. Cool night air comes in the window, there is the soothing sound of a fan. I sleep.
Photos on instagram.