Tubing Adventures 

After our restless night we hit snooze on the phone at least four times. Our 4:30 wake up turned into a 5:30 wake up and we finally drug ourselves out of our sleeping bag and into the world around six o’clock. Luckily the day was an easy twenty four mile day of ridge walking, accompanied by a refreshing breeze. There is nothing like a brisk wind to wake you up when you are tired. We were heading into Truckee to visit our friend Kirsten and her boyfriend Luke, and we had texted her when we woke up that we probably wouldn’t, realistically be at the trailhead until 6:00pm. But with cool gusts at our backs we cooked and were down at the trailhead at 4:45pm. We were content to wait for her though thanks to a trail magic cooler full of coconut water and Oreos, and Reno Dave at the trailhead who had a cooler of sodas and beers. 


Right at six Kirsten showed up, along with the dogs, Tucker (Luke’s) and Sage (her’s). She jumped out of the car and then practically recoiled as we emerged from the shadows of the shack we had been sitting under. “You’re so dirty!” Coming from her this is really saying something. We were at ACE with Kirsten (the conservation corps we worked for in Arizona) and she was always the dirtiest, sweatiest one on the crew. I remember one particularly hot hitch where she was drinking upwards of ten liters of water a day and her pants were so sweat soaked that after she took them off and they dried stiff with salt she could stand them up on their own. Now, here she was telling us we looked filthy. I didn’t think we looked that bad, but the picture of us that she took proved otherwise. Looking at it and at ourselves in the mirror of her bathroom later, we confirmed that we looked totally crazy. We were covered in dirt, Kyle’s sun shirt was caked in white salt and dirt and my dress was stained brown where my backpack straps hugged it. On top of that I had a huge hole in my dress on my thigh and a bunch of smaller runs on the ass of my dress from sitting on the ground. Our hair was matted, our arms were sunburned, and we were both very hairy. It took us forever to get clean in the shower, but Kirsten had thoughtfully set out an army of different soaps and scrubs, making it one of the better showers we have had on trail. 

After Kyle and I were more presentable and had been given loaner clothing while everything we owned was in the wash (except my dress which was getting thrown away) we headed to the most popular (and only) restaurant in their little hood, a fabulous pizza place. It was seriously amazing, although we had to assure everyone at the table that we would be able to put down the massive amount of food we insisted on ordering. We actually ordered a second round of calamari, because one was not enough. It was a fabulous night with friends, one that left me feeling all warm and fuzzy on the inside. 

The next day consisted of running errands in the morning. Kirsten had to go to work so I headed into Reno with her. I went and got all the hair waxed off my body (I left my head hair, don’t worry) and then headed to REI to grab some fuel and try and find some new clothes. I had bought different clothes before we started this journey, but they are in that box we never got at Kennedy Meadows south, which is still bouncing all over Southern California. I’m serious, every time I check it, it is circulating from Inyokern to Santa Clarita to Bridgeport. Every time I call to ask what the heck is going on the wait time is a million years long so I have no idea what is going on with it. I managed to find some clothes that would work, although the best fitting pair of shorts I could find were predictably pink. Ultimately I went for fit and function over fashion, so everyone on trail can see me coming for a mile away now! SO PINK. 

I finished up my errands right around the time Kirsten was done and so we grabbed some Chipotle and headed home to Kyle, who had been in charge of gear repairs while I was gone. He had used their bathtub to fix another two holes in our sleeping pad and he had replaced a guy line on the tent. We all enjoyed our Chipotle and then it was tubing time. 

Ever since we had started to plan on stopping in Truckee to see Kirsten I had been keeping my fingers crossed for a good river float. Kirsten had clearly had similar plans because she mentioned it to me in a text without any prior prompting from me. So tubing was on. We were planning on floating the Truckee River, which ran very close to their house. First we ran into a couple of problems though. We didn’t have quite enough tubes, so Kirsten ended up bringing her inflatable paddle board. Then there was the choice of whether to bring the dogs or not, who apparently just swam the whole float (impressive) which tired them right out, something that was appealing to their owners. It was decided that they would join us. Then we had to wait for Luke to return home and then shuttle the cars, and by the time we got into the water it was around four. Kirsten and I had decided to ride the paddle board together, something that was made more challenging by the fact that we forgot the paddle at home. So we kneeled on the board and rowed with our arms. 

Needless to say, the boys had a relaxing float while Kirsten and I had a wild adventure. The Truckee River is not some mamsy-pamsy lazy river. The boys claim that from a tubers point of view it was really quite calm. Kirsten and I had a completely different experience. Every set of rapids was a new adventure. We were fairly good at steering, but occasionally we would get off and end up backwards, going down a set of rapids blind. A couple of times we got completely broadsided by a rock, and thrown off into the rushing water, banging our les and knees on rocks as we rolled. Sage, desperate to keep an eye on her Mama, seemed to wait for the most inoportune times to scrabble her way onto the paddle board. Typically she attempted to join us right as we were trying to navigate a particularly difficult rapid. At one point we had just pulled her on when a rather large rock completely knocked us sideways and both Kirsten and I ended up in the water. Kirsten hit her leg hard on a rock and I looked over to see her momentarily stunned. As I grabbed her with one hand and groped for the paddle board with my other hand I was flabbergasted to discover that Sage, who had been the cause of all the capsizing to begin with, had somehow stayed atop the board, and was waging her tail jubilantly as if to say, “Man, that was fun, let’s do it again!” Kirsten and I pushed her off the board and reclaimed it, attempting to dry off a little bit in the fading sun. In the end we were bruised and scratched and exhausted, but we had whooped and hollered and rode a couple of very wild rapids. All in all, exhilarating. 

That feeling of crawling back into a sun warmed car after two hours on a bone chilling river, that is a bliss all of its own. Kirsten’s geology collaborator, Daveson, who was in from out of town, made salmon and risotto and veggies for dinner, topping the day off with an excellent home cooked meal. It was not a relaxing zero, but it was an incredibly fun one. Part of being out here on trail is that we miss many of the other summer activities we would be partaking in. But this zero gave us a real taste of summer that we had been missing. It was hard not to stay another day, let alone a life time, in Truckee, but after a breakfast of french toast and fresh fruit we headed back to the trail, because the half way point, and Oregon, and Washington and everything yet to come are calling. 

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As Edward Abbey said, "An indoor life is the next best thing to a premature burial."

5 thoughts on “Tubing Adventures 

  1. Really enjoying reading my way through your trip. Officially have now looked at every piece of gear imaginable and just need a couple pieces for my first overnight this summer!

  2. Oh, it would have been interesting to see photos of you and Kirsten on the paddle board without paddles. Your trip down the river would have been exciting even WITH paddles and WITHOUT Sage; glad you came out on top, given the disadvantages!

  3. Glad to hear that you experienced a fun summer day.
    Once again thank you for sharing your journey. I very much look forward to your posts.

  4. WoW! From the most unrelaxing spa treatment (waxing) to an adventurous float, you sure did have quite the zero day! Love following along on your journey and really enjoy your writing style. Looking forward to the next post.

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