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.