Mile 1094 to mile 1101
I wake way too early, 5:30 a.m., and lay on the floor in my sleeping bag, feeling tired and wishing I was asleep. Ah, town days. After what seems like a long time the others wake up too, or maybe they were always awake. We all get up and start to explode our packs- throwing out the stale bits of food, the crumpled plastic bags, washing our socks in the sink. Everyone wants to get fast food breakfast so I walk to the grocery store by myself. I cross the busy street, crowded with noise and tourist shops, and two young women approach me on the other side.
“Are you Carrot Quinn?” They say.
“Yeah,” I say. They’re wearing running shoes and athletic tights. “Are you two thru-hiking?”
“No,” says one of them. She’s holding a bag from baja fresh or cinnabon, I can’t tell. “We’re here to run a relay.”
“Really?” I don’t know what to say. These young women are fans of my blog, and they’re not even hikers? And I randomly ran into them on the street in south lake tahoe, where they’re running a relay?
It’s extremely flattering, to say the least. Incidentally, the dude who picked up Guthrie when he was hitching in Tahoe the day before confessed that he was “a huge Carrot Quinn fan”. I’m not sure what any of this means- people recognize me on the street, lots of different folks read read my blog, and I’m a rolemodel for teenage girls. I feel like I’m in a parallel world where the internet has cracked open and leaked into this, physical reality, where I eat and sleep and poop. It’s not an unpleasant feeling, just kind of disorienting.
All the dudes show up then, wearing their dirty down coats and holding half-drunk smoothies from Burger King, and I present them to the young women as “a bunch of real hiker trash”. I’m not sure what sort of effect the group of us has, but I hope it’s inspiring. Follow your dreams! Hike until you’re exhausted! Eat candy and sleep on the ground! Be poor forever!
The grocery store overwhelms me- I’m hungry and I end up buying more food than I can possibly eat or carry with me on the trail. I also get an icecream cake and candles, and back at the hotel room we sing happy birthday to Mack and Twinkle (Mack’s birthday was yesterday, Twinkle’s is tomorrow) and then attack the cake with our titanium spoons, leaving a mess of frosting, candles and cake bits all over the formica hotel table. I feel dizzy from not enough sleep and too much sugar, and I pack up my things and join Twinkle and Guthrie on the walk to the bus stop- we’re making our way to Lake of the Sky outfitters on the other side of town, where we’ll hang out in the “hiker lounge” (a couch, a hiker box, outlets, cookies!) until 3 p.m., when a really nice trail angel will give us a ride back to the trail. Everyone else- Coughee, Woody, Wiki Wiki, Lead dog, Twigg, Brainstorm, Bear Claw- will stay another night, for a full zero.
Of course, they don’t know about Sierra City, our next stop. My third favorite trail town! That’s where I want to spend my time.
Hiking in the afternoon is slow- we’re tired from town, ready to recharge in our cozy wilderness beds. It’s super cold, for some reason, even though it’s sunny- we pass a series of breathtaking lakes after echo lake and finally stop at aloha lake, spreading our bedrolls on a bright granite slab next to the glittering water.
“You know what?” Says Twinkle. “In the morning, I’m sleeping in.”
“Word,” I say.
Photos on instagram.