We got up early the next morning. We had a long twenty five mile day and Kesa had to hike out and drive all the way back to Sunnyvale. Even though we don’t drink coffee it was pleasant to smell it brewing in Kesa’s Jetboil. Also, she had hiked in butter, which we all added to our oatmeal. Butter in oatmeal is something I do in normal life, it was a treat to have it on trail. After cleaning out the pots and packing up it was time to say goodby and I sent Kesa up the trail with good luck vibes for getting through the crazy confusing snow area. We headed the other direction and straight up a hill, but I wasn’t complaining. The same breeze that had blown us into camp last night was following us along, keeping us cool and rushing fluffy white clouds over our head. The climb had steep parts but it was short and the views were incredible, looking back the way we came and down the valley that we were quickly rising above. We quickly hiked the first six miles of the day to break.
The day was fairly uneventful but completely lovely. The trail was nice, the climbs were short, the wind was constant, the temperatures cool. Everything felt fresh and bright, my nose felt nippy like it does on a early fall day, and we hiked quickly without even meaning too. The bugs couldn’t cut it in the steady wind and we were free from them all day. We leapfrogged a new hiker we had never met before who I finally introduced myself to and we learned his name was Rambler. At our last road crossing he was lingering and ended up hiking to camp with us, which was entertaining because he had hiked the AT in 2014, so we had a lot to talk about. We got into camp right at that magic hour when the sun is starting to sink low in the sky and everything feels golden and dusky. Rays slipped through the pine bows, loosing all of their heat on the journey and weakly lit up the sandy expanse of the saddle where we were camping. Up trail one tenth of a mile was a trickle of a creek where Kyle gathered water from while I set up the tent.
We both agreed that we felt fairly good and could have hiked another couple of miles if we had wanted to. That has been our thing lately, we never actually end up doing more than twenty five or twenty six miles, but we like to assess our energy level and how our body feels, determining that if we needed to hike more miles we probably could. But because we always have our next in town stop planned it rarely makes sense for us to knock out more miles that what we originally had planned, all it does it shorten our day into town. But it feels nice to think we could hike more miles, considering we will have to at some point if we want to finish this trail in a timely manner. But for now we just project our ability to hike bigger days and stick to back to back twenty fivers.
That night over dinner Kyle and Rambler, who is also from North Carolina, discussed southern restaurants at length, focusing their talk on Bojangles, Cracker Barrel, and the Waffle House. I had never been to a Cacker Barrel, which they found shocking, so they described it to me in length. Nothing like talking about shitty chain restaurants while you enjoy a piping hot Mountain House beef stroganoff. Our tent beckoned to us and we retired early, so I could take notes on the last couple of days and Kyle could read. We don’t have enough time at night for me to actually blog before I pass out into a coma like sleep, so I take detailed notes to help myself remember what we have been up too.
In the middle of the night I woke up as part of my new sleeping pad inflation routine, to blow my side of the pad back up. We had tried to locate the hole in the pad while we were in Northern Kennedy Meadows using the soap and water technique we had used before but to no avail. So I was relegated to the deflating side of the pad and about five or six hours into sleeping on it, usually around the time Kyle gets up to pee, I leverage myself off the pad, flip it up, fill it back up with air, and then roll back on top of it, falling back asleep almost instantly. At this point I think I could do it in my sleep.
The next day was almost a mirror image of the day before. Gorgeous terrain, easy hiking, great cool breeze. Our legs felt a little more leaden after their long day before, and we were unsure of where we were camping up ahead. The problem that we faced was the Carson Wilderness. There was a campsite before Carson Pass that would result in a twenty two mile day and leave us with a seventeen mile day into South Lake Tahoe, where we were neroing. Seventeen miles is okay for a nero, but what we really wanted to do was another twenty five mile day so that we only had a fourteen mile day into SLT. However, once you climbed up Carson Pass you were in the Carson Wilderness, where camping outside of designated areas is expressly forbidden. The next listed campsite was some eight miles further, meaning we would have to hike a thirty one mile day. Or find a place to stealth camp once we were out of the Carson Widlerenss area. But what if there was no place to stealth camp… We decided to just wait and see how we were feeling when we reached the campsites and stream at the bottom of the pass.
Things warmed up a tad bit throughout the day and we had a couple of hard climbs. Our snacks were okay but they certainly weren’t abundant. Needless to say when we got to the campsites at twenty two miles, even though it was only four o’clock, we decided to stay there. We ate an early dinner and got into the tent so I could actually do some blogging. We called an early lights out though because we were planning a 4:30am wake up to get an early start into SLT. The sleeping pad and I repeated our nightly dance.