Today was a fun day. There were plenty of climbs with switchbacks and not too many rocks and views galore. I am on the Tahoe rim trail now and it’s routed more like the Appalachian Trail right now where they are taking us along the ridges instead of keeping us in the valleys and bringing us up just to jump to a different canyon.
I got a reasonable start this morning at 6:10 and the trail stayed in the woods a while. It seemed to go up and down pretty gently going along the sides of the peaks. There were snow patches here and there and lots of views of other canyons and lake Tahoe in the distance. I’m passing the North end of the lake now.
I happened to check cell service since I could see the lake and I did get a bit of a signal, so I stopped and tried to get data in and out. It was a bit spotty but I was able to get mail but not post blogs. I moved along and the trail seemed to stay at the top of the ridges instead of staying in the valley.
A short while later, I could smell smoke and could see that I was approaching what could be a campsite. Five minutes later it indeed was a campsite, but no campers. I looked around at all the fire rings and saw one smoking. I approached it and saw that the fire was still burning the pine straw layer beneath the fire ring rocks. Some jackwagon left their fire burning. I was pissed. Every camper in California is required to watch a video to get a fire permit. But someone doesn’t seem to care. After seeing the massive fire destruction in southern California, I would hate to see a fire start in this area. It’s so windy, it would be easy for a fire to get out of control. There is massive amount of fuel in the forest. So many pine needles, cones, and dead trees. I had to use all the water I was carrying to put it out and had six miles to the next water. I was pissed for over an hour.
As I approached the first ski resort of the day, I could see what looked like cell towers on top of the high ridge. Oh boy cell service. I got better signal than from Tahoe and was able to call Karen and post one blog entry, but not the other. I’ve never been so close to a tower and not had great signal and data. I spent at least 45 minutes just talking and getting data in and out. There are alot of pictures that need backing up and that seems to eat up most of the bandwidth.
The trail went down into a deep and heavily wooded canyon before climbing to the other side. I was still getting good data there, so I left the phone out of airplane mode for an hour to let pictures back up.
I spent so much time during the day stopping to fiddle with the phone that I realized I was a bit short on mileage for the day. Checking the maps, it looked like I was not far from another ten mile ridge walk. I would either have to camp on the near side and call it a short day or push on possibly after 10 pm to hit the next official campsite. Being a high ridge, campsites are harder to find and would be very windy. It seemed like the close campsite would have to be the target.
I pushed on and anticipated getting to the campsite at about 7pm. I filled up on water at the closest stream. There is 12 miles to the next water, so I loaded up with 3 liters to have 2 for the ridge walk tomorrow and 1 to camp with. The pack always feels so heavy when loading up 3 liters. And to think that I loaded 11 in the desert.
What I did not realize is that right after the stream, the next ridge walk actually began. Yikes, will this campsite be on the ridge? A mile later and yes, indeed, the campsite is on the ridge in small patch of trees. And it’s occupied by four campers already. OK, ridge walk it is. I pass them by and see that the far end has another tentsite. Score! There are enough trees to help block the wind, but it will buffet the tent pretty badly, so I decide to cowboy camp instead of use the tent.
I set up and cook dinner. I finally have both powdered milk and butter, so I can’t wait to make some potatoes – loaded baked. The butter and milk do make a difference. They taste pretty darn good. I secure everything and hop in the sleeping bag. I’m wearing my fleece and down just to make sure I don’t get cold tonight. As I’m typing this, my hands are cold, so the gloves are probably going on soon.
Tomorrow is Donner pass. I hope I don’t get hungry and have to eat another hiker. That would be terrible. What is also terrible is that I noticed that Truckee also has an Enterprise and is fairly close to Reno. An REI stop might happen. I’ll play it by ear. I wasn’t planning on going into Truckee at all. I have plenty of food and don’t need any more delays.
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