Total Miles: 51.5
It took me a moment to recognize what I was looking at. Scattered flecks of grey and white were sprinkled on my hammock as I went to turn in last night, and it was then I realized that the smoke hanging on the horizon that had given us such a scarlet tinged sunset had also given us these little flakes of ash. It was odd to have that connection to something happening so far away.
When we shoved off early this morning in anticipation of a resupply stop in Tahoe City, only a few miles down the trail, I was officially one year older. Thinking back on the last several years, I realized that only once in the last 6 years have I not been on trail for my birthday. I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend it or friends to spend it with.
Catching up to Emily, Beardoh and Sweet Pea I found myself at a bend in the trail with early rays of sunlight washing portions of the forest in a golden warm hue.
Walking alone for a bit this morning, I tried to reflect on the past year that had brought me to this 38th birthday. Have I become happier? Wiser? More empathetic? Am I closer to being the person I’d like to be or farther away? Am I a more evolved version of my past self? Of course, none of those questions come with easy answers. After all, how exactly does one measure their own growth?
Far from finding answers to those big questions, I found it easier to think about all of the big trees that I passed by, of what they’ve endured to grow to be what they are. One in particular, a reddish and twisted incense cedar (or Sierra juniper?) growing immediately next to the trail was especially impressive.
An hour or so later, the hum of traffic that had for hours been a faint din emanating from the valley far below had grown increasingly louder until finally the trail had delivered us to a paved road just on the edge of the town of Tahoe City. Food being usually the first thing on the brain when we roll into a town stop, we headed directly for the Dam Cafe where we sat for well over an hour enjoying the shade, charging our phones, and indulging in breakfast burritos. And a cinnamon roll. And another breakfast burrito.
When it was time to get serious about figuring out our resupply for the next 5 days, we went across the street to the grocery store and piled our carts full of the usuals. Three and a half hours after pulling into town, we finally tore ourselves away and set off again, first on a level path along the Truckee River where we gazed with envy upon on the people leisurely floating down it in glorified inner tubes, and later on a steady incline back up to higher elevation.
After the afternoon heat had soaked us with sweat on the long climb out of Tahoe City with a 5-day resupply on our backs, we entered the Granite Chief Wilderness and with that came the end of the mountain bike tracks that had been as common as footprints.
All that was left was to find a stand of trees to set up our hammocks for the night and settle in for some dinner and relaxation. With a birthday candle on a wedge of German chocolate cake that Emily had toted up from town to cap off the bag of Cheetos and beer that Beardoh and Sweet Pea had surprised me with, today had just about everything I could have hoped for in a birthday, with three of my favorite people to share it with.