Archive for the ‘CA Sierras – K’ Category

Monday, July 19, 2010 Pooh Corner Miles Today: 9.8 Total: 1,155.8

Monday, July 19th, 2010


Up, up we went this morning, up to the backside of Tinker’s Knob, and fabulous views. We stopped for breakfast with another fabulous view, and the three Israeli hikers came by. “Are you going to Pooh Corner?” they asked. “Yes!” So we hatched a plan of all going together, since one of them had a cell phone and could call Bill & Molly Person.  We all hiked along quickly, running on “town moto”, but I knew that up ahead when the trail headed down to Highway 40, it would be slow going for me, with a very rocky tread.

I remembered how frustrated I got in 2005, doing my best to hurry down to the highway, but having to go slowly because of all the rocks.  So when we got to the rocky downhill, I told Bill and the Israelis, “Don’t wait for me.  I’ll catch up with you eventually.”  They took off, zipping right down the rocks, and I figured that while they were waiting around for a ride to Pooh Corner, I’d make it down OK.  And I did, but getting down to Hwy 40 involved climbing around a huge icy snowfield in addition to negotiating the very rocky trail.  I met lots of dayhikers and their dogs heading up the trail and enjoying the awesome views and flowers. Even though I was picking my way down, I loved hearing train whistles below as the engines chugged over Donner Pass.


Down at the trailhead, the rest of the gang were waiting for Molly Person from Pooh Corner to  come to get us, and checking out a cache that consisted of a cooler with a couple of bottles of wine!  There was a note inside that said Pooh Corner does not allow any alcohol, but if you call this OTHER trail angel who lives on the other side of Donner Lake, you can stay at her place and have wine and beer if you want.  We didn’t care–we heard the food at Pooh is awesome (and indeed it was!)  When Molly arrived, she only had room to take 4 of us, and Evan (the guy Israeli) gallantly volunteered to wait at the trail so that Bill and I and the two girls could go first.

So pretty soon we were at the famous Pooh Corner by Donner Lake.   I walked in and just loved it. The house is right by the lake, and is multilevel, with a rockclimbing wall and fun circular stairs.  But I was totally exhausted, and when I took a shower I had a good look at myself and was horrified.  I was literally down to skin and bones, to the point where I was scared.  I resolved to eat and eat as much as I could, and that was no problem!   There was food everywhere!

  So I started our laundry and  collapsed in a cozy corner under the stairs.  I wasn’t the only one–every couch had a sleeping thruhiker on it, and more were out by the dock.  Once I lay down I realized how completely tired out I was, and when Bill Person returned home and started recruiting volunteers to help make dinner, I didn’t move.  (For me, that was totally weird–my family says I need a T-shirt that says, “Stop me before I volunteer again”!)  Dinner turned out to be over-the-top-awesome!  Some of the hikers began to grump to each other about the  “no alcohol” rule and that Bill Person was too bossy and loud.  I was too tired to care. Bill and I discussed whether we dare take a zero tomorrow or should we keep hiking?  I know that we need to stay at least till I can repair Bill’s pack.  It is a mess.  I went up to the garage to the hiker boxes and found some silnylonish fabric I could use.

Our daughter and son-in-law who live in Reno came over for a visit this evening, and the four of us went and sat out on the dock to enjoy the sunset and the lovely view of the lake.  The Person’s nephew, who is the official “Brownie Master” (he keeps fresh hot brownies coming all day long) was swimming with one of the hikers–splash, splash, yell, yell!  Bill was disappointed because he’d hoped to go sailing, but the Pooh Corner sailboat centerboard is having issues, so the boat is not available.  Oh well…there were plenty of other watercraft available. 

At 9 pm, the rule at Pooh Corner is “lights out!” unless you go down to the dock or up to the garage.  Bill and I claimed a spot of rug and crashed.  The house was full of hikers, and the Persons are very strict not just about no alcohol, but also no noise or lights after 9 pm.  Again, there was quiet grumping about this, but Bill and I were glad!  It meant we could sleep in peace, and boy, did we need that sleep!  We both feel profoundly tired.

Walk to Rauros:  Downs on both sides of the river


Sunday, July 18, 2010 Miles Today: 25.9 Total: 1,146

Sunday, July 18th, 2010


I LOVE our net tent!  Crowds of mossies were hovering over us all night long.  Yesterday Bill was talking to the Israelis, and they were joking about, “I wonder if the mosquitoes do shift work??!!”  It is wonderful to have a little tent that’s lightweight, quick and easy to set up, that ensures a good night’s sleep without being eaten alive!

But we had to plan carefully getting underway this morning, since hordes of mosquitoes were waiting for us outside the net tent! We stowed our sleeping bags and gear, put on “full mosquito garb” (headnets and raingear), and then opened the tent door and ventured out into the humming hordes.  A couple of minutes walk took us to Richardson Lake, where we met one of the Israeli girls.  She said “I hear the mosquitoes are not so bad after Barker Pass.”  We all fervently hope so!  It’s a long climb up to the pass, on a muddy trail that goes through very damp forest.

 But there were compensations– intensely green new bracken fronds, wildflowers, and a sighting of a tiny little furry baby creature trying to run across the trail.  It had started to cross just as we arrived, but the minute it spotted us, it began to cry the most piteous tiny cries, and ran frantically around, obviously in total terror.  I got out my camera to try for a picture, and the poor little guy squeezed under a lupine plant by the trail, then literally lay there shivering and shaking.  I didn’t want to scare it too much, so I just pushed a couple of leaves back and took a pic of its back.  Poor little baby!  I’m not too hopeful for it surviving, though, if that’s how it behaves when it’s scared.


On the way up to Barker Pass, there is a road crossing, and when we reached it we encountered a whole contingent of PCT thruhikers, including the Israelis, who’d passed us awhile back, and a whole bunch more, including some Aussies.  Everyone looked tired and trailworn.  What amazed me was that for the whole rest of the day, none of them ever caught up with us, even though they are young and fast, and the trail was often rough, rocky, snowy & steep, which means I am slow.  I guess they really were tired!!

By10 am we reached Barker Pass.  Several cars were parked at the trailhead, and another arrived as we passed through.  We began to meet CLEAN, chipper backpackers!  One very enthusiastic chap told us “There’s a fab view of Tahoe right up ahead!”  No kidding!  The PCT after Barker Pass is one of my absolute favorite parts of the whole trail.  I call it  the “Tahoe Crest Walk.” How can I even begin to describe this fabulous section of the trail? The views are stunning–360 degrees for miles in every direction. You can see the boats on Tahoe, there are fields of wildflowers, huge dramatic rock formations and the wind blowing nice and cool. And it’s fun to look down on all the different ski resorts as you pass by.  The only bummer is that the trail is often rocky and rough, so I had to spend a lot of time looking at the trail so as not to stumble, and had less time to look at the awesome views.

We stopped for lunch in a grove of trees, out of the wind, and just as we finished eating, along came a really nice couple out for a walk with their big dog.  (I thought about asking if the dog would like to lick our cooking pot clean, because he eagerly scarfed up two noodles that fell on the trail!)


Eventually we went down many switchbacks to 5 Lakes Creek (Wow!  You could see the trout there!) The PCT promptly began a killer climb back up again, during which it twice crosses the Tevis Trail.  I have a friend who participates in a horse trail race on Tevis, but we didn’t see any horses on it today.  At the top of the climb was the Squaw Valley ski area, with lifts and trails and buildings.  The gondola was still running–we could see it just across from us while we ate supper.  Then we continued following the PCT as it wound its way through huge boulders, with more snow-on-trail, till we were down to Squaw Creek.  We camped near there in 2005, but this time, there was a large group of backpackers setting up camp already. 

So we kept going (it was too early to stop, anyway) and  began the big climb up to Tinker’s Knob. We made it to about a mile from the top and got a nice campsite on a little bench tucked into the mountainside, in a grove of trees. There was a  little creek nearby, so Bill took a bath, and I slooshed off as best I could.  The mosquitoes were not bad at all, hooray!  And then when I saw we’d done almost 26 miles, I was pleased and amazed. With all the rough trail, long uphills, and yes, still snow traverses, we did not think we’d done so well.

What a great place to camp!  It’s so pretty here, the birds are singing sleepily, and the sunset is a gorgeous orange-gold.  I would recommend this section of the PCT to anybody and everybody!  It is so beautiful!

Walk to Rauros:  Nearing the South Downs, Gollum continues to follow


Saturday, July 17, 2010 Miles Today: 24.1 Total: 1,120.1

Saturday, July 17th, 2010


We passed 1,100 miles today! But wow, it was a tough 24 miles! It felt more like 34 miles! For many miles this morning, the PCT was unbelievably rocky and rough.

We had a good night’s sleep in our net tent with the mossies whining around outside, wishing they could get at us!  Once we got underway, it was a lovely morning.   Echo Lake was very peaceful– no motorboats this early, and the water was all silvery in the early morning light.   We passed the “water taxi” sign on a tree, and I will say this–if you ever think your life is boring and you want a thrill, well come to Echo Lake and ride the water taxi!  We saw it in action yesterday, and whoever it is that “drives” the taxi, well,  he drives like Jehu!  Wild! 

Picking our way along the very rocky trail, we finally reached  Lake Aloha with its many islands, in its very High Sierra-looking setting of snowy granite peaks.  There was enough snow by the lake that we lost the PCT for a few minutes.  The day was rapidly becoming very warm, and some folks were already swimming!  They must be tough–that water was snowmelt!  I wondered how bad the snow was going to be up on Dick’s Pass.

Then we made “the big right turn”, where for awhile we headed down to other lakes, notably Heather Lake and Susie Lake.  We took a Snickers break at Susie Lake with its rugged backdrop of Jack’s Peak, and Bill decided to go swimming!  So our 15 minutes turned into more like half an hour.  I tried going into the water myself a little bit, but backed off.  Coooooold!  Off we went again, starting the big climb  to Dick’s Pass. I figured, “Well, pretty soon I’ll probably be getting out my ice axe!”

On the way up, we met the two littlest, cutest “trail dogs” I have ever seen!  Their names were Poky and Toby–two tiny Yorkies.  Their proud owners said that the tiny pair of dogs have done lots of miles, and commented, “You don’t need one of those big slobbery dogs to hike with!”   As we climbed higher, the trail got wetter and muddier.  At one point we met a ranger lady digging diligently with her shovel, trying to divert some of the water off the trail tread.  We kept on chugging, admiring the gnarly, twisted trees–sort of giant bonsais–that manage to survive in the severe conditions up here. 


Finally, right about noon, we reached the summit of Dick’s Pass, and what a joke!  As it turned out, the snow on the pass wasn’t bad at all, and all sorts of folks were up there, including a whole troop of Girl Scouts making a snowman and throwing snowballs! The trees on top are so dwarfed that it’s like being in a Christmas tree plantation, so with the snow it was Christmas-y. After a nice break, we headed down the other side, which was totally covered with snow, but so many people had tramped on it that the trail was very easy to follow. Downhill we went, past Dick’s Lake and Middle Velma Lake, then it was back to trail-wandering-through-forest, with lots of mosquitoes.  Actually, the trail wandered so much that at one point, I began to worry whether we were still on the PCT, but a hiker we met confirmed that we were still on course.  Whew! 


The farther we went, the worse the mossies got.  Both Bill and I were hiking in headnets.  Along came a small group of backpackers, looking rather unhappy and swatting at the mosquitoes.  The lead guy stopped right in front of me.  “Hi!” he said.  “I sure could use a headnet like that right now.  I’ll give you a thousand bucks for yours…no, make that TWO thousand.  Seriously!”   I just laughed and said, “No way, Jose!”   There is NO way I would ever consider hiking in these conditions without my headnet!  The trail continued on through viewless forest for much of the afternoon.  Sometimes it was dry forest (nice!) and sometimes it was a swamp (muddy trail, clouds of mosquitoes!)  At one point, we heard a tree come crashing down in the forest off to our left.  We’ve been around falling trees before, and the moment we hear that first crackle of breaking branches, we instantly freeze and get ready to leap out of the way.  This time, hooray, it was a decent distance away from us.

At our afternoon Snickers break, Bill constructed a wooden “prosthetic” for his trek pole, since the tip had broken off. He now has BOTH trek poles operating with “wooden legs”, which we find rather funny. We made camp tonight near a dirt road above Richardson Lake with hordes of mosquitoes. We were very tired, and groaned at the thought of having to rig the tarp-net tent combo.( The net tent was constructed to HANG under the tarp, not stand up by itself.)   But then Bill said, “Wait, I think I can rig just the net tent.”  And he did it!  It’s a simple rig, very nifty, using two crossed trek poles.

While we were doing this, along came the three Israelis, Noga, Shani and Evan, all in headnets and moving fast!  They camped not far from us.   So we crawled into our sleeping bags and crashed, serenaded by the indignant whining of hordes of mossies.   Only 38 more miles and we’ll be at Donner Lake and Pooh Corner!  I was very happy to see we’d made good mileage today, and I am so glad Bill figured out a way to easily rig the net tent!

Walk to Rauros:  Reach the edge of the eastern part of South Undeep