The night before a town stop is usually a restless one. It’s like Christmas Eve, when all you can think of are the goodies the following day will have in store. When my alarm went off at 4:30am I didn’t even hit snooze. I was prepared to sleep walk to make it into town as early as possible.
The trail was incredibly flat and I was at the 5 mile mark before I’d even considered filling up with water. My pack also felt considerably lighter with only a little bit of extra food left in comparison to 10 full days. I caught up with Carrot around 7:30am and by that stage had hiked close to 8 miles which meant I only had 6 to go. We stopped for a quick coffee break as I’d already had a Carnation breakfast and a few handfuls of granola before I left camp and I was out of my usual oatmeal.
Time flew between chatting and hiking on the mostly flat trail and by about 11am I was 0.5 miles from the highway. I excitedly called UB to see where he was at, expecting he would waiting close by, but he told me he was at the Echo Lake Lodge where he’d dropped Wendy back at the trail head. The Lodge was less than 2 miles from the highway but it was a completely mental battle. Kinda like telling someone whose just crossed the finish line after running a marathon that they actually have two more miles to go. It broke me.
After 10 challenging days out in the wilderness I sobbed my way through the last two, realising just how much the 180 miles had taken a toll on me physically and mentally. When I finally reached the lodge I realised UB had texted me to say he’d come pick me up from the highway but I hadn’t seen it, so I was wandering around the parking lot when he pulled up, having run into Carrot who told him I’d headed up that way.
I was so relieved to see him and his puppy Bernard! He had brought beers, cookies and cupcakes for the hikers arriving at Echo Lake, so I grabbed some of the trail magic before we headed to the Post Office. I thought there was a package for me from Jimbo at the Echo Lake PO but they said they didn’t have anything. Then at the PO I discovered one of my packages was at the UPS depot and the other from Dirty Girl had been returned to her. The rumours of the Sth Lake Tahoe PO not being hiker friendly was close to the truth, but my resupply box, tent and gear were all there, phew!
We headed up to King’s Beach on the north side of the lake and I had to visit the Thrift Store to buy some cheap clothes so I could shower and clean every piece of clothing I’d been wearing for the past 10 days. The traffic was mayhem and the prices of the motels extortionate because of the July 4th weekend, but we at least managed to find a room near the lake. By the time we’d decided what to eat for lunch it was nearing dinner time, so we grabbed some sushi before heading down to the beach for sunset. We got kicked off the beach by a cop because it was private and dogs aren’t allowed, but the guy was really friendly and thankfully didn’t write us a ticket.
The next day was a full zero day, but after waking up around 10am I had so many things to do I barely rested the entire day. I needed to buy new shoes and a Steripen from the outfitters, lunch food, HEET and toiletries. Then I needed to spray down all of my clothing and gear with Permethrin that trail angel Jan had ordered me from Amazon (thank you SO very much!!). I was lucky I could hang my entire wardrobe out to dry on the balcony of the motel. Then it was time to figure out my food for the next five days. Ladybug had kindly sent me my resupply box and filled it with some additional surprises like Oreo cookies and Nutella!
I was up until 2am, trying to update my blog, opening an Instagram account (MukMukPCT) and applying to be an ambassador for Gossamer Gear (Carrot told me they give you a free backpack and like people who blog regularly). Unfortunately they rejected me (their loss I say), so I’ll be sticking with my ULA Catalyst which has seen me through the trail well, it’s just in need of a mega clean as it smells worse than me! The guys at ULA also exchanged my hip belt for free which really impressed me, and sent it to me on the trail within a week. Thanks again Chris!
Today I had a nervous belly heading back to the trail. UB still needs to figure out how he’s going to get back to the trail and when, and the memories of my 10 days solo were still too fresh in my mind. When we reached Echo Lake again my heart sank. It wasn’t until I ran into Spark, Leaky and Moonshine that I felt any comfort in hitting the trail again.
We had discussed trying to go around 10 miles as it was already close to 3pm. About half way I saw a familiar face coming south bound down the trail. It was Fuller who I’d shared a shot of Crown Royal with at the 1000 mile mark. I said a big hello and asked what he was doing. He told me he was quitting. I immediately threw my pack down and insisted we sit and talk. We both shared our woes, as I was feeling extremely unmotivated being back on the trail. I think some of the most important things to remember on the trail are: 1. You’re never alone in your struggles, 2. Everyone will have a day when they feel like quitting, 3. The trail will beat you down but always provides when it’s needed most, and 4. Never quit on a bad day.
Fuller was extremely appreciative of the talk and decided to continue heading north. This also helped to motivate me and gave me purpose for being on the trail at that time and place. The trail honestly does provide in weird and wonderful ways just at the right time. I still struggled through the last five miles to camp but was relieved to have the company of Leaky and Moonshine to cook dinner with and camp next to. We shared many a laugh, especially when they said they’re still wondering what I want from them, as this was the second night I chose to camp with them. I told them it was for their superior coffee, but honestly they’re great company, and a fresh breath of youthful air on the trail. I also get to act like an 18 year old again!