Twig Adventures

PCBCRT Day 66: The Homestretch

Wednesday, Sep 13th, 2023, 0630-1840
Desolation wilderness border to Tahoe City
26.5 miles, Gain 2940′, Loss 4640′, elevation 6360′

It was a beautiful morning among the boulders…but wet. My tent had some condensation on the inside and my ground tarp was soaked for some reason. I couldn’t imagine how the gravely granite soil could hold so much moisture. Probably the snow had melted from my flat spot not all that long ago.

The day was pretty ordinary, compared to the previous one. I continued down away from the wilderness, past the lake, and through a lot of woods. I climbed for some decent views around Barker Pass, then to the parting of the TRT from the PCT near Twin Peaks. I officially made it full circle from where I began the TRT on Day 57. I’d expected to complete the trail in about a week and it had taken about 7 full days when I added all my town\half days together. Not bad for a 175 mile trail…plus the bonus miles I now had to walk again to get to town.

Just past the junction, I met a lone man doing trail work. I thanked him for his time and effort. Since I was repeating the 11 miles of trail into Tahoe City, I decided to take an alternate mountain bike trail that went past Stanford rock. There were a few good views of the lake, but in general the trail was annoying and probably a mistake. It was built with so many graded switchbacks that it ended up being far longer than expected. Mountain bikers liked flowy trails but this was excessive. On the flatter slopes, I started traveling cross country to avoid it altogether. I met with Ward creek and road again, walking about a mile up to where I’d left the trail in favor of hitching into town a week before. I figured I should at least walk the part I missed, hoping to find a good campsite along the way, just outside of town.

I passed the Basque oven and walked through pretty Paige meadows. But I couldn’t stop to enjoy this area much because the mosquitoes were crazy! I’d encountered them in this same area the week before, but nowhere else on the entire TRT. Thankfully I’d only dealt with them a few times all summer. These ones were attacking me even as I walked fast, drafting off my slipstream and going for my shoulders and the backs of my arms. I had to stop to put my rain jacket on, they were so bad. Camping is the only time mosquitoes are legitimately allowed to attack me. This is the contract that seems both fair to them and me. It infuriates me when they have the audacity to also pester me while I’m moving. I don’t know why this area had such mutant mosquitoes, especially in late September!

The last view of Twin Peaks from Paige Meadows. This was a constant landmark along the TRT, easily discernible and the marker of my progress.

It would have been nice to camp near the meadow but no way was I stopping to be drained of my remaining blood. I continued all the way to the outskirts of town, just within sight of the Truckee river and road going to a ropes course. I made a spot in the duff of some cedars to call it a night. A few obnoxious mosquitoes followed me to this dry camp, pestering me in a spot where none should be and so late into the season that none should even be left. I hurriedly got my tent up and declared my mosquito-free zone. I could have so easily pushed half a mile more into town and gotten a room, but wanted to save money, plus feared there wouldn’t be any left so late (I confirmed this was indeed the case the next morning).

As I sat eating my crappy backpacking meal inside my tent, taunting the frustrated mosquitoes that were lined up on my mesh, I watched a huge, fat black bear go sauntering by, 20 yards away. Yep, I definitely should have gotten a room. What was I just saying about site selection? Camping near a town, you of course get Town Bears, by far the worst of their species. This one had clearly been successful at dumpster diving and gave no shits about being near humans. I can’t recall if it looked at me first and then I yelled at it, or the other way around. Either way, instead of inciting the bear to run away as they always do, this one just stared at me defiantly, then kept walking. It was unnerving, to say the least. Luckily it didn’t seem to want anything to do with my boring food, as I’m sure it routinely found far better offerings in dumpsters. I didn’t even want to be eating my food, and I was starving.

I didn’t get the best sleep overnight, because in addition to bear concerns, the nearby lumber yard was making a racket well after 10 pm. I heard many loud bangs, the back-up beeps of trucks, and lots of jake brakes from the highway into town. Later, the coyotes started up with their weird and crazy yips and yowls. It wasn’t the best ending to my TRT hike but I guess I did save $100. Take my advice, don’t camp just outside of Tahoe City! Pretty much from Ward valley to town sucks… literally, as in the case of many mosquitoes. Plus, it’s noisy as hell and the bears are on the prowl. No Bueno.

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