Sunday, June 24, 2012

Day 64-The Dreams that You Dare to Dream

Mile 1055 to mile 1079 at Carson's Pass
We had decided to that we could sleep in last night because we weren't going to Tahoe on Monday. That meant there was no rush. Of course I still woke up at 5:30 and I could tell the others we still asleep-not a sound to be heard. I woke feeling much more rested-almost like I could get up and hike 26 miles. Or, saying it was still cold and windy, staying in my bag seemed like a great choice.
We left camp at 7:30 (Buster left before us and we didn't expect to see him until maybe Tahoe). Right away the trail took us into the sun past the rock tower. It was almost as cold as yesterday, but with fewer clouds.
There were a lot of people out on the trail-the best way to tell it's a weekend is by the amount of day hikers out. It felt strange to be crossing roads and seeing people after the seclusion of the Sierra's. A couple of overnighters told us the dorsets at the Carson's Pass Visitor's Center were really hiker friendly (they may have mentioned something about Twinkies and sodas). We asked if they had running water there-I spent most of the morning dreaming about washing my hands and face with hot water and soap-but they said the center only had a pit toilet. Dreams were dashed.
We had lunch at a paved road. We watched every car that went by like vultures. I didn't expect a car to stop and have some one feed us, but I wanted that. I don't think Tahoe ever felt so far away as it did at lunch time.
We had been walking for minutes after lunch when we met one of the volunteers from the visitor's center out for a hike. We chatted with here for a bit-she gave us updates on hikers, including Buster, and we told her where we were from (MA and WA for Portrait and Opus) and when we started the hike. Then she said the magic words: would you like...? She had a nearly full bag of cherries, and apple, and carrot sticks. Opus took the apple, I took the cherries (she gave me the whole bag!), and we both had some carrots. My day's snack bag suddenly looked much better.

We hiked on, not very fast (we knew we wouldn't get to the pass before five when the center closed, so we didn't see the need to rush). I started to day dream about breakfast in South Lake Tahoe and how I could have it on Monday instead of Tuesday. Sometimes numbers run through my head like that classic word problem about two trains and their speed and when they will meet. If we hiked to Carson's Pass that would leave 13 miles to town. If we got there at 7 p.m. had dinner and hiked on until dark that could be 4 miles down and then a nero into town which would mean early lunch in town on Monday. If we hiked an hour past dark and got up early we could do eight miles into town for a mid morning breakfast. I had eaten my last candy bar so did I have enough snacks to hike more after dinner? These thoughts are not my favorite to have chasing each other while I'm hiking through beautiful landscapes. I'd rather dream about French toast.
We stopped for a cherry and snack break around mile 1074 which according to my guide book was right before a secret climb. I don't know what made it a secret, but the guide goes on to say that any hiker who dares climb up the Elephant's Back is risking their life. I don't know if the book tries to breed fear or just make sure you're reading. Or all the warnings just don't apply to the Golden Year class of 2012. At any rate, Elephant's Back was a neat climb up to a pass. There was some snow, and perhaps it could have slowed us down if we hit it at the wrong time of day, but it caused us no problems. It was windy, but it had been windy all day long and we had heard it was supposed to stay that way for a few more days. Near the top of the ridge the view really opened up. On the far said there was a lake that was gleaming silver in the late afternoon sunlight. It was something to look at from way up there.
On the descent down we started to see day hikers reminding us that it was still the weekend and we were getting close to a road. Portrait and I started reminiscing about the few times we had been brought home by strangers for the night. I told him about the family that took me home at the end of my AT hike and he told me about the couple of times it happened to him on the AT. Portrait was like the devil on my shoulder whispering about laundry, showers, comfortable beds, and breakfast (I have a weakness for breakfast). I told him while he was describing bacon sizzling that he was being cruel. Opus had dropped back so he didn't have to listen. Portrait was convinced someone was going to take the three of us home for the night. It's a rare occurrence, but a memorable one when it happens.
We hadn't seen any other thru-hikers for awhile when we spotted Billy Goat (a hiker legend, he's hiked the PCT every year for the past decade) talking to a couple of women out for a day hiker. We stopped to say hi and chatted for a couple of minutes. I think we stole the attention away from Billy Goat because he wasn't out doing a thru hike, just a section. The two women peppered us with questions. I don't know how it came up, but they mentioned an inn with excellent hamburgers just down the road about five miles and they'd be happy to bring us there. I know I lit up at the mention of a ride to food.
At Carson's Pass the visitor's shelter was closed, but there was a pit toilet with trash cans which didn't interest me nearly as much now that I was thinking about hamburgers. And I still had incredibly dirty hands. Opus and I ate cherries while we all decided what to do. We didn't have far to hike until camp for the night and town food sounded great--I know my energy levels were low--and now pack food didn't sound any good knowing there were hamburgers near by. We thought hitching back to the trail could be a problem if it was dark out and we didn't know if we'd be done eating before than. It was like another math problem.
The two day hikers found us just finishing the cherries and they offered to take us to the inn for take-out and drive us back to the trail. It seemed like all problems were solved. We wedge our packs in the trunk of Carol's car and we climbed into the back of her very clean car and away we went. The five of us talked trail the short car ride to the inn. At the inn the three of us went straight to the bar hoping to place our orders and not make our ride wait too long. At this point I was hungry enough that I no longer cared about scrubbing my hands. It wasn't long before Carol and Cheryl came into the Inn and claimed a booth--they had decided to get some food with us and then take us back to the trail.
We kept talking about the trail and our hikes and their hikes while waiting for our food. Carol has been on some grand treks in the past and knew what it was like to be hungry and dirty. Talking lessened right after the food was delivered. I had one of the best tasting pulled pork BBQ sandwiches placed in front of me with fries. I probably could have eaten the sandwich twice over (it was that good and I was that hungry). I did eat most of Carol's fries as well. She surprised us by picking up the check when everybody had cleaned their plates.
In the parking lot walking back to Carol's car she said she should just take us home with her and bring us back in the morning. Cheryl said we'd love Carol's home. Portrait asked if that was a real offer and I started to giggle. Carol said it was a real offer. We could do laundry and take showers. She said she had enough beds for each of us. She said she had a hot tub. Opus, Portrait, and I didn't discuss it--there was no need. We just got into the car and off we went to Carol's home.
Opus changing the tire
We were traveling down a twisty mountain road with wonderful views--the type people pull over to gaze at for awhile. The sun was thinking about setting. It was nearly picturesque until Carol clipped a grapefruit sized rock in the road which flattened her tire. It thumped quietly until she could pull over into a gravel turnout. Opus and Portrait were out of the car as soon as it stopped to inspect the damage while assuring Carol they would change the tire for her. We took our packs out of the trunk and a few other items, put rocks behind the tires, and the guys set about changing the tire. The tire was on tight--Opus had to stand on the wrench to loosen the lug nuts. Portrait jacked the car up. Opus pulled the old tire off. Everybody looked at the hole. Carol said it was lucky for her that she had decided to take us home, but we assured her she was doing us the bigger favor. The new tire was on and everybody was back in the car ready to go in under a half hour.
The rest of the drive was uneventful. Carol told us about her 150 year old farm house. She told me about her claw foot bathtub that I could use. She told us about laundry and the three terry cloth bathrobes she had that we could use while our clothes were in the washer. At the mention of the robes my giggling got out of hand and the guys seemed to notice for the first time that I had a bad case of the giggles. I seemed to giggle harder with each luxury that she described and it didn't help that Portrait was still whispering about food. He was a little smug about how spot on his prediction had been--which he had every right to be so.
Our bed and breakfast in the morning
The sun set and about an hour later we pulled into Carol's driveway. Cheryl said that Carol's home was like a bed and breakfast it was so charming. And indeed it was. Carol had white lights around the huge wrap around porch. The house was blue with white trim with flower pots on the steps. t looked more old New England to me than California. It was hard to believe we had gone from the woods to such a charming home.
We left our (stinking, gross, filthy) packs on the front porch after grabbing our dirty laundry and a few toiletries. We dropped our laundry in the machine and Carol whisked me away upstairs to the claw foot tub. She gave me a fluffy yellow towel and purple bathrobe and a fresh bar of soap. The water was hot as I set about removing a week and a half of trail grime. It was practically perfect.
I dropped the clothes I had been wearing (I tried not to let them touch the bathrobe) in the washer and joined the guys in the hot tub. Carol brought us water and bubbles. We soaked for well over an hour while occasionally expressing how lucky we were. It was closer to actual midnight than hiker midnight when I went upstairs to my bedroom for the night (the guys let me have the largest of the bedrooms with the largest of the beds). Carol and Cheryl are the type of people I hope every thru-hiker is lucky enough to meet, but I know so very few are.


  1. Hey Faren!

    You are moving!

    I could pick a place to send your next package, but if you have somewhere in mind it would help. I'm thinkin' Castella (get it?) if that works for you. Sometimes I crack myself up....

    I'm easily amused, what can I say? Looks like you should be there around 7/20. Expect 3 dinners, 3 breakfasts and a bunch-o-snack/bar stuff.

    I'll call TPR in the morning about the axe. Don't worry about it.

    Yeah, the bear can is a bit of a beast but well worth it if it keeps the bears alive. I had no idea it was also a bear repellant.

    Cheers Faren!

    John P.

  2. Beverly AndersonJune 28, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    Hi Faren

    Sure is nice to have such wonderful people to take you guys home and give you an opportunity to have a place to clean up and rest. Stay safe. Beverly Anderson

  3. You have met the "Good Samaritan" and a great friend.
    Play it forward.

  4. Good thing you provided photos with this story, so I could believe it. It was so awesome that I expected to read that you were whisked back to the trail on the back of a unicorn!