Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tahoe Rim Trail: Day 4

September 4, 2011: My mosquito friends delivered the wake up call at 6:30am again. I awoke to an interesting morning sky with checkered clouds. I had a few miles to go before entering the town of Tahoe City, where I planned to do my first of two resupplies for the trip.

To be honest, up to this point in the hike, I wasn't really having a good time. I'd say the pain to pleasure ratio was probably 70% pain, 30% pleasure. For the first time on any of the hikes I have done in the past, the thought of quitting actually entered my mind. I was battling a negativity that I've never encountered before. I wasn't sure if I really was up to this hike. I wanted to be lounging in the comfort of my house, access to a shower, my computer, and good food. I let the thoughts come and go.

Before entering Tahoe City, I crossed paths with a couple of college kids who were also hiking the Rim Trail in the opposite direction I was going. "See you on the other side," I said.

After an hour or so, the trail meandered out of the forest into Tahoe City. I needed to resupply, and hopefully charge my camera battery. I was feeling insecure this morning, and "town anxiety" was kicking in. I wasn't sure I had the confidence to get done what I needed to get done, in particular, find a place to recharge my camera battery.

Resupply was easy. There was a grocery store right in the middle of town, and I needed food for only three days. I did not have "hiker hunger" at this point, so I simply bought what I needed. The only extras I bought were an apple and a bottle of Gatorade. I was relieved to also buy some sun tan lotion. I left my bottle at home because I didn't want to carry the extra weight.

I walked around town a little to see what my options may be to recharge my camera battery. There was a cafe that was packed with tourists. I looked for signs of any outdoor electrical outlets. Naturally, my wandering led me to a quiet park where I decided to re-center myself. Just then, I saw an outdoor faucet, perfect for refilling my water bottles. Then I saw a public restroom which allowed me to clean up a little. There also was a large wooden building that I assumed was closed since it was Sunday. To my delight, it opened at 10:00am. When I walked inside, it was a museum. I asked the man at the front desk if I could recharge my battery using one of his outlets, he gave the OK, and suddenly, everything was right with the world once again. Thanks to the kindness of strangers, a little persistence and desperation, needs and wants are met. It was also a perfect quiet place to relax.

I gave Indie a call while the battery was recharging. It was nice to talk trail talk with him, even though he was home in New Jersey. He had actually just returned from a small PCT reunion in New York City where he met with Hojo, Wide Angle, Flyboy, Moosie, and Wide Angle's brother.

Once my town chores were done, I was back on the trail before lunch. While refilling my water bottles in a stream, a woman asked me where I was headed. After telling her I was hiking the rim, she informed me that she is Brenda, #18 on "the list" of Tahoe Rim hikers. The guide book has a list of all the people that have hiked the TRT starting in 1998. Brenda's name is the 18th on page 239. (Actually, I just checked and she is actually listed as number 20.)

Anyhow, this was supposed to be another long waterless section, so I filled up all of my bottles near Ward Creek, carrying another 12 pounds of water. While eating lunch, I talked briefly with a solo day hiker who was heading up towards Twin Peaks. The hike from Ward Creek was quite strenuous, the trail climbing in elevation. I had to dodge the occasional mountain biker flying down the mountainside.

The next couple of hours I was battling negative thoughts again. "Why am I doing this again? You call this fun? Your body is screaming in agony. You are filthy." Near the summit of Twin Peaks, I ran into the solo day hiker again as he was coming down. He must have tuned into my negative energy somehow. "I was going to hike to the top of Twin Peaks," the man said. "But then I thought, who cares? It's just another mountain and I've hiked to the top of hundreds of them already. It's the same view." We were a couple of Eeyore's hanging out near Tahoe.

While I was already thinking about what this trip was going to mean in the long run, I became nostalgic as the TRT combined with the PCT. It felt real good to see those letters and that symbol again. The supernatural PCT. I didn't recognize a single part of it the first couple of miles. I kept turning around to see if I recognized any of the views. I was solo doing this section last year, and I remember it being very trance like. I didn't realize how deep of a trance I had been in.

I had to chuckle to myself when the trail got really steep in some parts. I remember those cliffs where it seemed that one misstep would send you rolling hundreds of feet to the bottom of a boulder field. I remember Indie and I having conversations about this type of trail all the time up north. The good ol' PCT.

It wasn't until around evening that I finally recognized where I was. I was coming around a corner when I spotted a campsite that looked familiar. I remember seeing it first thing in the morning last year. "Gouda and Pepperjack where camped right over there, across the creek and were standing around a huge campfire..." I said to no one in particular. "That was an awesome campsite they had!" (Gouda and Pepperjack were a young college aged couple hiking the PCT last year. This was the last place I saw them until Crater Lake Oregon. They had decided to leave the trail at Crater Lake after climbing Mt. Shasta a couple weeks before.)

The timing was just right since the sun was beginning to set. I crossed the creek and found several excellent campsites where Gouda and Pepperjack had been. All of a sudden, the trail had a very familiar and comfortable feel to it. I recognized the peaks and the view. Strange to feel a sense of comfort in the wilderness, but I relished it nonetheless.

The site was perfect. No mosquitoes were present, I had a view of Lake Tahoe, the sun would greet me first thing in the morning from the East, and there was a raging stream a couple of hundred feet away. I carried the 12 pounds of water for nothing, but that was OK. I was going to cowboy camp, and eat an excellent dinner, the first one of the hike since I had enough water at last. My rhythm still felt off, but for the first time, the pleasure to pain ratio was beginning to increase...

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