Tuesday, Sep 5th, 2023, 0700-1850
The Oven to Tahoe City
5 miles, Gain 4200′, Loss 5510′, elevation 6200′
My tent was pretty drenched with condensation in the morning, even though I pitched far away from the creek and under some pine trees. There was a lot of moisture still in the ground and air after the storm. I realized that I dropped my sun hat a few miles back when I got to camp, so I went on a mission to retrieve it in the morning. Well, first, I checked out an old brick oven in a field, thought to have been built by Basque sheep herders. Rumor is that a thru-hiker once packed out a frozen pizza to cook in the oven. I would just pack out a cooked pizza and eat it cold. The oven was kind of cool for being historic trash (a term often referred to in The Trail Show podcast, which I never listen to).
I contemplated leaving my pack near the site while I went back for my hat, then decided it was best to take all my belongings with me back to a road crossing. I would try to get a ride into town from there, negating the last 3 miles of the trail. Otherwise, I would have to climb back up the hill a second time. As I already planned to hike this whole stretch a second time, on my return to complete the loop, it didn’t seem to matter. I ended up retracing my steps 2.5 miles for the hat, but at least I found it. I walked the road for about a mile until I got a ride from a nice lady on her way to work and with her toddler in the back. I love rides from moms! She dropped me off at the cheapest hotel in town, which also offered a hiker discount.
I promptly met 2 hikers in the lobby, Teflon and Close Call, hitting the coffee and honey buns. Close call was wearing a Purple Rain Adventure Skirt, so I liked her immediately. They were getting back on trail after heading into town a bit early to escape the rain. They had to get a ride back to Incline city and were heading counterclockwise from there, so I would likely see them again, if not twice. I had to get used to the new trail jargon, answering the common question of a loop hike: are you clockwise (CW) or counterclockwise (CCW)?
It seems like Tahoe City may be the most popular start point for the TRT, probably because the Tahoe Rim Trail Association website describes it as such, proceeding CW. I guess this way saves some of the best (Desolation wilderness) for last. I went with this standard simply because it made sense as a resupply point when transitioning from the PCT. It would also have me going countercurrent (NOBO) on the PCT, where I might have a chance of running into Wolverine and Funk, my 2 friends from the PNT who were going SOBO on the PCT. I was a little concerned that I might burst into flames the minute I became a NOBO PCT hiker, but that was a problem for future me to worry about.
I couldn’t check into my room right away so I went a block down the street to do laundry and raid the hiker box at the outdoor gear store. Then I busied myself at the library for hours, catching up on over a week’s worth of blogs. Lastly, I got some food at the Safeway and a Thai restaurant. I needed to stuff my face while I could.
I could have actually checked into my room hours beforehand, but the other chores kept me busy all day. With a bed finally at my my service, I wish I could say that all I did was lay in it. Nope. I did a full break down and washing of all my gear, including my tent. I was at the 2 month mark already and felt the need to clean everything, especially after all the rain and mud. While drying my tent outside, I left the door open to keep an eye on it. A lady walked by and asked if I was hiking the TRT. She was too, mentioning that she hadn’t hiked since the spring, when she did some obscure route called the Hayduke. I perked up. This was Silver Bullet, a hiker I’d been following for weeks on the Hayduke but never met. What a small world to finally meet her here, about to start another hike, same as me! I invited her to sit in my room and have a chat, but regret that I had no beers to share over our conversation. Still, it was so great to share stories of that trying hike…like a therapy session for those who have been through traumatic events.
She retired early, since she had just flown in from the East Coast. Jet lag, I know the feeling. I walked next door to the brewery to buy an overly priced can of a local stout to take to the hotel’s hot tub…yes, even budget hotels in TC have hot tubs! So clutch. I just wanted something cold to sip while I soaked in the hot water. It sure felt good to immerse myself in the warmth, especially after the cold and rain. This day was like hitting a reset button. I felt so eager to hike the rest of the TRT, the final leg of my Pacific Coast Bigfoot Crest Rim Trail.