Total Miles: 68.8
Little did I know how close we were. Our hammock spot last night was a mere few hundred yards from the junction of where the Tahoe Rim Trail joins the Pacific Crest Trail for a 50-mile stretch through the mountains along the west side of Lake Tahoe. Moments into our morning, the post at that junction conjured memories from two years earlier when Beardoh, Sweet Pea and I had camped in a patch of trees just off the trail here. I even walked over to the exact spot and could still picture where I’d pitched my tent on the gently sloping ground.
Just through those trees, we broke out onto a grassy, exposed ridge that seemed as though the forest of stately firs and pines had simply chosen to advance no further in a silent march up the flanks of the mountain. The soft morning light and views to distant parts of the northern Sierra made for a great start to the day.
Gently descending and ascending, numerous seeps of water trickled across the trail, even at this end to a dry summer and among one such trickle was a cluster of vibrantly blue colored flowers that resembled the mountain gentian found back home on the slopes of Mt. Rainier. As if too shy to present their full beauty, nearly all of them were closed but like any crowd there’s always one standout unafraid to break from the bunch. Staring straight into the sun’s rays and nestled in a thicket of bright green foliage, there it was on full display.
Retracing the steps of the PCT on this stretch of the Tahoe Rim Trail, albeit in reverse, was all the more meaningful because I was now sharing it with the one person who was missing from that experience in 2016. Eight years ago today, we were married and as anyone who knows us well, this day marks the culmination each year of what we affectionately refer to as Newdle-palooza—a four day stretch in September that includes both of our birthdays and our wedding anniversary. Sharing this stretch of trail with my best friend in some small way began to assuage the guilt I had felt two years ago of being here without her on such an incredible hike and also strengthened my resolve for us to hike these trails together and share in that rare fun and freedom that is gifted to those who are fortunate enough to walk in the wilderness.
Of course it wouldn’t be an anniversary without at least one photo of the two of us, staring out into the morning sun over Lake Tahoe.
But I think our friends and family will probably find this one a bit more representative of our true selves…
Most of the day was spent cruising over extremely pleasant trail and at a leisurely pace, full of breaks by streams and lakes, including one where we narrowly survived an onslaught of 5-inch red crayfish who emerged from the rocks where we were rinsing our socks and collecting water.
Whiling away the hours with great conversation and laughter, the scenery began to take on a more distinctly Sierra-like appearance with large sloping mountains of granite dotted with conifers rising to the southwest. It could mean only that we were nearing the Desolation Wilderness, a section that I’d been eagerly waiting to return to since the PCT in 2016. Tomorrow, my wife—best friend and trail companion—will get to find out why.