Mile 1053.2 to Upper Truckee Creek mile 1079.3 (26.1 miles, 42km)
Another great day overall. I made to within 10 miles of South Lake Tahoe and should get half a day in town tomorrow, plus I aim to take two full days off, a first for this trip.
Reaching South Lake Tahoe means the end of the Sierra series of maps and onto the next stage of Northern California. I don’t really know what to expect. Everyone talks about the desert with the heat and lack of water; the Sierras and all the rumours about snow and pace slowing; Oregon and how your pace will lift because it’s flat; and Washington being wet. But no one ever really talks about NoCal.
The trail was a mixed bag today. It had multiple personalities. The first half of the day was on perfect trail, almost like brushed up mountain bike trail. Nice grade, sticking to the contours for all ascents and descents and minimal rocks. The second half of the day was like walking on railway ballast with steep climbs up, not as well graded as this morning. It’s like two different people designed and constructed two separate trails.
The crowds have noticeably thinned out. Through the Sierra a week back it wouldn’t be uncommon to see 30 different people a day. Now I’m coming across maybe 5 – 10.
I’m setting a fast pace for myself and that brings with it it’s own pros and cons. Moving fast I’m always moving through groups and don’t really get to know them. I might see the same people for an afternoon and the following morning but by the next afternoon I’ve moved ahead, getting well in front and never come across them again. This has really forced me to have meaningful conversations with those that I meet straight away as it’s likely the only time I’ll get to meet them. I try to skip the small talk and go straight for the big questions like what are they passionate about.
Walking solo has its ups and downs as well. I like the freedom of not being on anyone else’s schedule except my own, doing what I please, when I please. But it does have some drawbacks to walking with a group. For starters you’re on your own you have to entertain yourself. With no one to talk to when walking (although I do walk with others on occasions, just not attached as a group ie. free to come and go) it can be hard. It’s the tough days that are the hardest. You have to motivate yourself to get moving in the morning. Moving as a group, the attachment to the group and not wanting to disappoint or the obligations you feel can keep you motivated and moving forward. And when solo on a nasty climb; when you almost twist an ankle; or are generally having a shitty day, there is no one to share the pain with and certainly no sympathy. Nethertheless I love solo hiking and I really get to know and can push myself.