Saturday, July 12, 2008

Pooh's Corner

I made it out of South Lake Tahoe and am in Truckee at a place called Pooh's Corner.

While at South Lake Tahoe I had a craving for fruit so I bought a bunch of fruit, including a ripe melon, and had a feast of fruit. I cut the melon with my probably very dirty pocket knife. I couldn't eat the whole melon so I saved it in my hotel room for later. I ate another piece of the melon in the evening and then spent the whole night vomiting and having intense intestinal issues. It was awful and all my fault.

Some other hikers at the hotel had worn out the hiker welcome by drinking and putting too many people in the room and sneaking in a dog so the hotel owners seemed to be trying to phase out the hikers. I begged them to let me stay another night. They allowed it.

During my extra rest day I tried to take a walk to the Internet cafe and on the way back in the hot sun I had to rest about 5 times. One of those times an ambulance went by with lights flashing and stopped to ask me if I was the one who called. I must have looked pretty bad.

The next morning I felt much better so I went to breakfast. After breakfast I attempted to hitchhike back to the trail. There were other hikers inside the cafe so I went back in to see if they already had a ride. They did but there was no room for me. Just then a man came to the table to offer me a ride, so back to the trail I went. Yay! Trail magic for me!

The trail was really hard to walk on but I was glad it wasn't hilly. It was full of loose cobbles and "klinkers". I walked very slowly and hoped my breakfast would stay down. The mosquitos were awful. I could not stop to rest or they would swarm me.

Aloha Lake was pretty. So was heather-fringed Susie Lake. I climbed Dicks Pass and descended down to Dicks Lake, the prettiest lake I think I've seen yet. I really should have gone for a swim, but I still felt clean from the million showers I took in my hotel. That clean feeling didn't last long because soon it became very humid.

By the end of the day I had hiked 21 miles and slept in the most mosquito-unblessed spot I could find. I still had to put on layers and a headnet to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Sunset was deep red with all the smoke in the air. The moon was blood red in the night, too. The air was choking with smoke. Cough cough.

The following day, July 11, I walked through very dense forest. It was pretty but buggy. Then the trail took me up to a ridge and I walked along this interesting volcanic ridge for miles and miles. Along the way I bumped into Nitro Joe again now hiking with his son.

My feet were getting really really sore. Excruciating. At one point I changed into my Crocs and hiked in those instead. When I reached a nice cold creek I soaked my feet until they ached so bad I had to yell out loud. I took all the insoles out of my shoes and put them back on. I got a few more miles out of my feet that way. In fact, it seemed to feel pretty good with no insoles.

I camped in a rocky spot near the Tevis Cup trail after walking past tons of pretty flowers, including some white lilies that smelled as good as the Casa Blanca lilies I used to sell when I worked at a flower shop. I could hear voices near my campsite but I never saw anybody. Before I made camp I knew that Nitro Joe and Al (All Hat No Cattle) were nearby. It was a hot night. I could barely tolerate my sleeping bag. Thankfully the mosquitos were absent and I could go outside in the middle of the night with bare skin.

In the morning, July 12, I packed up early as usual and set off. The trail took me up Tinker's Knob, which apparently is a popular day hike or run. The ridge walk after Tinker's Knob was fantastic. I had great views and it really felt like I was walking a knife edge at one point.

I saw a lot of runners and day hikers. At one point as I was coming down I could see a large group of people. I fantasized that it was another impromptu party waiting for me to cook me pancakes and hand me a cold drink. Alas it was just a group of developmentally disabled adults with the hugest backpacks ever. I wished I could stop and teach their minders a thing or two about packing a little lighter.

After descending from the ridge, the trail started to become pointless. It seemed to go up and down and switchback all over the place.

The trail descended to Highway 40 where I thought maybe there might be a place to buy a sandwich. Just the thought of sandwiches made me get really hungry. There were no sandwiches there. So I ate an apple and watched rock climbers freaking out because there was a snake in one of their handholds.

Then I put on my umbrella because the unbearable heat and humidity had descended and I had to do some more pointless climbing. Up and down and round and round the trail seemed to go. My feet were killing me. After I passed under Interstate 80 through a tunnel I saw a sign posted with a phone number for Pooh's Corner.

Hiking the trail really isn't that hard. You just put on a backpack and go. But I still cry with a strange sense of relief whenever I find little trail magic things like this. It seemed I ought to call and rest my feet a bit. I had hiked "only" 17 miles and it had felt like 30.

Bill and Molly are the angels of Pooh's Corner and Pooh's Corner is their house on Donner Lake. They pick up hikers and feed them. Real food. Home-cooked. Not pizza and burgers and restaurant food. It's sooooo good. Time to rest a little before the next stretch from I 80 to Quincy-La Porte road where my mom can pick me up. There is a big fire and the trail is closed from Quincy-La Porte road to Highway 36.

See you down the trail.


  1. I found your blog from the pct website and really enjoy reading about your adventure!

    (from Long Beach, CA)

  2. One thought. The sore feet = too light of a sole on your shoes. I might suggest you look for a heavier shoe to provide better cushioning. Running shoes and light trail shoes are not designed for the type of walking you are doing. You obviously do not have a problem with the mileage. I do not think heavier shoes would slow you down much. Some people can get by on lighter shoes, some people need heavier shoes. I know long distance runners run in light trail shoes. I also know that their feet are totally trashed after they run. My wife used to run Western States and her feet would be trashed for a week after the run. Look at Vasques or Lowes, both have worked well for me.

  3. I'm not sure the shoes are running shoes. They seem really stiff like hiking shoes and oddly they hurt even when I'm just sitting. The water shoes I had before were softer and squishier and didn't hurt so much.

    I bought some "2 oz miracle" insoles yesterday. I had used these in my water shoes for road-walking and eventually all the time because they felt so good, until they flattened like a pancake. Sure the insoles don't last long, meant more for people who walk only to the refrigerator or the garage, but they are soooo comfy. Perhaps this will help me in the miles to come. So far they're working walking across the parking lot at the supermarket.