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Day 74-78: The Kindness of Strangers


Day 74: Above Latopie Lake (Mile 1013.5)-Overlooking Golden Canyon (Mile 1036.5); 23 miles

The morning’s walk was crisp and beautiful. The PCT traversed a ridge of colorful volcanic rock formations, which reminded us more of Utah than California.


The trail then descended to Highway 108 at Sonora Pass, where we were very excited to find The Owl providing trail magic. There, we eagerly consumed fresh fruit, beverages, and cookies topped with whipped cream and cherries. This is what every thru hiker dreams about!


The remainder of the day mostly consisted of forested walking, which was not too challenging except for a couple sections with trees blown down across the trail. Many wildflowers grew near the trail, more than we had seen in a while.

At dinner we watched a stunning sunset complete with an almost full moon. Sadly, horrendous swarms of mosquitos also liked the spot, forcing us to cut the ogling short.


For the tent, we found a sweet spot tucked inside an old tree that curled around onto itself. We fell asleep feeling very upbeat about the day’s 23 miles.

Day 75: Overlooking Golden Canyon (Mile 1036.5)-Ridge above Pennsylvania Creek (Mile 1058); 21.5 miles

Early in the morning a bird called loudly from various locations on the twisted old tree we were camped under. It was our natural alarm clock. We were quickly up and on our way.


Prior to filling up water for lunch we ran into an extended family on a day hike. We enjoyed one family member’s stories of his bicycle trip across Canada, and we shared PCT stories in return. Half a mile down the trail we cooked our lunch with fellow thru hikers Cookie and Desert Fox. Mid-meal, part of the family showed up, offering us Gouda and fresh apricots from their tree. The food was fantastic and the kindness of the family was wonderful. We were very thankful.

For the rest of the day we hiked with our friend Cookie. We almost always hike solo, but we enjoyed spending the afternoon chatting. We passed through forest and occasionally some cool rock formations.


At sunset we set up camp and ate dinner atop a ridge (see the opening photograph in this post) with Desert Fox and Cookie.

Day 76: Ridge above Pennsylvania Creek (Mile 1058)-Near Truckee River (Mile 1080.5); 22.5 miles


Early in the day we ran into our friend Sunset at a stream. He hiked with us for about a hour and kept us laughing and smiling the whole time. It was a great way to start the morning.

The scenery was frequently forest today with occasional gravel slopes, and we did a bit of ridge walking with views for miles.


This was our seventh day in the backcountry since Tuolumne Meadows, and our appetites were voracious. We had packed a lot of food, but it wasn’t enough. North Star’s hunger must have been apparent on her face, because when she chatted with two day hikers about the PCT, they offered her the rest of their pretzels and chocolate covered almonds. What amazing kindness, just when we needed it!

Soon after, we reached the Kit Carson visitor center, where the staff handed out fresh apples to a few thru hikers. They were closing up shop when we arrived, but Sunset was thinking of us and made sure to set two apples aside for us. We felt even more grateful for all this support and thoughtfulness.


Propelled by this unexpected energy boost, we hiked a few more miles and set up camp.

Day 77: Near Truckee River (Mile 1080.5)-Echo Lake (Mile 1094.5); 14 miles

In the morning we walked through a buggy meadow, then past Showers Lake, and out into a clearing where we could at last see Lake Tahoe in the distance.


We continued hiking until early afternoon when we arrived at the Echo Lake Chalet post office. We picked up our food resupply boxes there, and a met a friendly couple named Peg and Steve, trail angels who volunteer for the Pacific Crest Trail Association. They invited us, as well as Sunset, to stay, shower, and eat at their cabin a few miles away. An incredible and unexpected kindness!


After eating large quantities of tasty food and doing our laundry in the tub, we celebrated Independence Day by watching distant firework shows over Lake Tahoe from the deck of the cabin.

Day 78: Zero near Echo Lake

We let our bodies rest today. Steve kindly drove us to the local outdoor outfitter, then dropped us at the library where we spent several hours ordering new gear and updating our blog. When we returned to the cabin in the evening, we found more PCT thru hikers. Dinner and dessert were large and delicious. Both were even better with the excellent company of Sunset, Atlas, Helicopter, Peg, and Steve.


Our experiences on the Pacific Crest Trail have shown us just how kind, trustworthy, and giving people can be, even when they are strangers. Especially in the last few days we have been floored by the gifts people have given us. After we complete the hike, these memories will stay with us, and we will do whatever we can to pass along the kindness we have received.


28 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dante Rodriguez #

    That was SOOooo nice of the day-hikers to give you extra grub! I know when I am day hiking, I always end up bringing way more food than needed. Even when trekking in the backcountry there is always extra, and we’ve shared with people who were raided by bears and left without. It makes one feel warm inside to share, especially in the backcountry!

    July 9, 2012
    • That’s great of you to share. All of us hikers help each other out, I think, because in the backcountry, we are a bunch of humans amidst many other kinds of animals. Our humanness is what connects us, even if we don’t know each other.

      July 12, 2012
  2. Sabrina K. #

    The kindness of strangers is so heart-warming to read about. They seem to come along at just the right time! For me, it would so help renew my energy along the way LOL Again, your photographs are so telling and wonderful!

    July 9, 2012
  3. Barb #

    A lovely story! So nice to hear about Trail Angels and Trail Magic.

    July 9, 2012
    • Thanks Barb! We were excited to pass along these great examples of kindness. It can be easy to lose sight of how friendly and helpful people can be, but on the trail, we see it all the time.

      July 12, 2012
  4. North Star and Shutterbug,

    Thank you for helping us yesterday with the info off you iphone map and getting us back in the right direction to the 5 lakes. It was a pleasure meeting you both as you make your trek thru our lovely wilderness. Safe travel to you both.


    July 9, 2012
    • Hi Willito, not a problem, we were happy to help. Glad you made it to the lakes! It was great to meet all of you as well, and thanks for the good wishes. It’s great that you are enjoying all the beauty around you. There is so much to see!

      July 12, 2012
  5. Charles #

    Im pretty sure no one in the history of Earth has ever been happier to eat a cookie than Anna in that pic. Just cracks me up looking at it.

    Definitely impressed w/your big mileage days as well. You guys are total pros at this point.

    July 9, 2012
    • Haha, good, it’s hard to capture just how ravenous we are — we can’t stop at one cookie. A whole package seems about right.

      It’s interesting, our bodies are more accustomed to walking 20 miles a day now, but it’s still a challenge sometimes. Sometimes the trail is rough or off camber, or there is a lot of elevation gain, or we are carrying a lot of food, and those things add to the difficulty. But regardless, 20 mile days are definitely easier than when we started the trail!

      July 12, 2012
  6. Hello North Star and Shutterbug,
    So glad you guys are doing well and enjoying your hike. I also was gifted with serious trail magic at Echo Lake summer before last from Marty and Joy. The cabins there are historic and handcrafted. It was such a special time for me.

    I have a question. I just purchased Airstash. Do you use the WordPress app to post your journal entries? I have had so much trouble with how the app handles pics and was hoping you might have some tips to share.

    July 9, 2012
    • Thanks Rockin, it really is a beautiful place! Sorry to hear about the snow changing your plans, but we are glad you will be able to do some walking later on when conditions are better.

      We transfer all the SD card photos for an entry to one of our phone’s camera rolls using the AirStash, then add them to the entry. The WordPress app is generally good, but it’s a pain when it comes to moving photos around. Is seems that you can only add photos at the end of an entry, and then you have to copy the HTML code for each photo and paste it where it needs to go. That is slow, but it works. You do need a cell signal to add the photos.

      July 12, 2012
  7. Mary #

    We can’t believe how quickly you are moving along! Amazing!
    Happy Trails,
    Mary & LIndley

    July 9, 2012
    • Thanks Mary and Lindley! We are about to start moving even faster now that the mountains are getting smaller. At this rate we will eventually make it out of California, haha. It’s strange to look back and see how far we have come. Usually we just focus on a small bit at a time.

      July 12, 2012
  8. What a beautiful few days! It revitalizes my faith in humanity to recieve random acts of kindness especially on the trail! Your perfect whipped cream cookies look delicious. We also enjoyed our time hanging out with Sunset on and after his birthday. He is a wonderful man.

    July 9, 2012
    • Tell him hi for us :-)

      July 9, 2012
      • Was the Sunset you met about 65 and did he have a strong southern accent? Just wanted to make sure since there can be multiple hikers with the same trail name. If it is the same one, he is really funny and friendly!

        July 12, 2012
    • Thanks Mags, yes, that sort of kindness is awesome! You participated in it too with your much-needed PT help for that one hiker. I’m sure he will remember that for a long time.

      July 12, 2012
  9. Jan #

    I gotta love the laundry in the tub picture! And how much fun to see everyone around the table enjoying each other’s company. I agree, if one reads the news these days the world seems like a depressing place, but seeing your photos, and the kindness of strangers you have captured so well in words and images, things seem so much more hopeful.

    I’m curious about your recent ravenousness–are you finding that you need more food these days than you did early in the trip? If so, is that because you have now used up all your stored reserves (i.e. fat) and so the body is saying FEED ME MORE NOW alot more often? Or had you just packed less this last section of the trail?

    Those home grown apricots must have been awesome. And the cookie with whipped cream and a cherry!! Now there’s a guy who knows what hikers need to keep going! Love those trail angels. :-)

    July 10, 2012
    • I think we are so hungry because our bodies have adjusted to our massive need for energy every day. Since our need for energy has doubled, so have our appetites! It is also true that we don’t have any fat left, though.

      It can be difficult to buy enough food in a store, only because it always seems like too much. How could we possibly eat all that? We are getting better with that though. Also we don’t have any super long stretches anymore. Our longest remaining portion will be 6.5 days between towns.

      July 12, 2012
  10. gina & ed #

    wonderful stories of people who love life and love the living. God Bless you and them all!!

    July 10, 2012
  11. Margaret #

    The variety of vistas never ceases to amaze me. Am I suspicious or are the mosquitoes literally getting under your skin?

    July 11, 2012
    • Yes, the variety is awesome, especially for us, since we always love to experience something new.

      We would be happy to leave the mosquitos behind! However we expect to encounter more of them in Oregon. Maybe we will buy full mesh mosquito suits and just wear them all day.

      July 12, 2012
  12. Jan #

    Wow, you two have made SUCH GOOD progress! You are now around the straight edged big bend of the California/Nevada border. Awesome!

    July 12, 2012

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