July 8, 2015
Miller Creek (1122.6) to Squaw Valley chairlift (1142.7)
20.1 PCT miles today
1187.1 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 3,783 ft, – 2,661 ft
This morning I woke up with the thought “less is more” running through my mind, and in an instant I finally had the great idea to completely remove the new insoles I had put in my shoes before coming back out on the trail. They were the same insoles that had mostly worked for me in the High Sierras, only these ones were actually in my size, so I just assumed that meant they’d work even better. But after two days of constant pain, something had to give. I hadn’t considered removing them before because I didn’t have any insoles to replace them with, but this morning I realized that actually might be best. Perhaps all my feet need is to be left alone in a basic trail running shoe so they can do whatever adapting they do best. As they say, hindsight is 20/20. After a successful day of hiking, with significantly less pain than what I was becoming used to, it seems fairly obvious that I should have removed those insoles (the only variable in my hiking gear) when my feet first started hurting. In fact, now that I think about it, my PT friend Britt’s parting words to me regarding my feet were to listen to my body and do what felt right, making changes when necessary. Now I get what she was saying! I can’t say the pain completely disappeared today, but it lessened enough for me to forget about it for hours at a time and instead focus on memorizing wildflowers (a new hobby we are suddenly very taken with), catching glimpses of my dear Lake Tahoe, feeling fully alive in the midst of a ridge-top hailstorm, and standing in awe at the view below me from the top of Squaw Valley Ski Resort.
Today was the first day that I really felt like we had walked home from Mexico. About 4 miles into our morning, Pickles and I hiked over the road at Barker Pass, the same spot where we had performed trail magic almost exactly 2 years ago. At that time we knew we wanted to hike the PCT, but we had no way of knowing that it would come to be so soon. It was bizarre to think that we could drive down that road and end up right at the lake. We hiked on, happy to be in a place that we could access any time we wanted in the years to come.
As I mentioned, Pickles and I have begun to learn some of the names of the many beautiful wildflowers on trail, thanks to a pamphlet, “Wildflowers of Lake Tahoe” that we picked up at Carson Pass. I can now tell you that today’s trail took us through fields of corn lily and crest lupine, past creeks crowded with monkey-flower and towering larkspur, and along ridges where wooly mules ear and arrow leaf balsam root cover the earth with their bright yellow flowers. We are loving being surrounded by flowers and are already planning more wildflower-focused hikes for next spring.
Around noon today clouds gathered in the sky once again, but this time it didn’t take long for the rain to come. We were hiking near Alpine Meadows ski resort when the storm blew in and within minutes our lake views were replaced with thick fog and driving rain. We were alternately pelted with huge chunks of hail and blasted with full gales of cold wind. We actually didn’t mind much since we had all the right gear, we knew what we were in for, and it actually reminded us a lot of many of our hikes in South America. A couple hours in, though, we were both pretty cold and hoping for the storm to stop. It finally reached its conclusion as we began up our final climb of the day. Even though my feet were feeling better, we had still decided to make today a bit shorter – both to not press our luck with my feet and because we knew/hoped to find an amazing campsite right at the top of Squaw.
Amazing does not begin to describe where we are camped. For two Tahoe locals who love the lake and love to ski, it doesn’t get much better than a lake-view campsite perched right underneath a chairlift. We can even see all of Northstar (the resort where we both work) and Diamond Peak (our hometown’s tiny resort). And to top it all off – tonight we have 4G and will finally get to watch a movie just as soon as I finish writing this blog. We feel so lucky to live in such a beautiful place and we cannot wait to spend all of the years to come exploring even more of our huge backyard.