PCT Day 72: Bless U Carson Pass

June 29, 2022

Campsite at mile 1061.5 to Showers Lake at mile 1081.9

20.4 miles

The mosquitoes went away in the night, but they’re back this morning. Still, it’s not as bad as it could be. There are just, say, three or four.

Jumbo is packed up and ready to go long before we are, and he heads out while Tribute and I stay behind taking advantage of the fact that we have data. I download some albums and audiobooks, including Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman and How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry. I’m so glad I got on an audiobook roll. I really miss reading, and it’s so nice to get lost in a world while you wander down the trail.

I head out shortly before Tribute, but I get turned around and have to go back. It seems like the PCT is a trail that should be pretty easy to follow, but there are occasionally really confusing false trails. We figure out where we’re headed and then it’s smooth sailing. I don’t know why I feel great sometimes and terrible at other times, but today I feel amazing. There are a few uphills, then downs, then I’m on a road and I’ve gone four miles already and there’s a big climb ahead. It’s time for music. Uphill music. King Gizzard. I’ve got so many albums downloaded and so much cheese in my legs. Let’s do this.

It’s beautiful on this climb. Meadows and wildflowers. Rocks and mountains in the distance. I absolutely rock the hill. It leaves the trees and enters a very exposed and windy section above lakes. The talus on the trail slows me down a little, but for the most part, I feel so alive and I’m flying.

The high wears off as I start going downhill. The climb is over, so I put on an audiobook: How to Find Love in a Bookshop. Um, hello, this book is adorable. It’s not the kind of book I’d usually read, but I immediately get caught up in the story of a man who loved books and opened a bookshop that he left to his daughter. It’s also the most English thing I’ve ever heard: a quaint bookshop in a quaint town in the countryside outside of Oxford. Squeee! Where am I? Audiobooks are magic.

I catch up with Jumbo at a creek. He says he’s feeling good, and we’ve already gone over ten miles, so we’re going to push the next uphill and have lunch down at Carson Pass. This is also where Rachel, Beetle’s girlfriend, is coming to meet him to begin her month-long journey on the trail with us. It’s also very exciting because there’s a pit toilet and a visitor’s center that occasionally does trail magic at this pass. The problem is that I start to need this bathroom quite badly, but the trees are thinning out and it’s all exposed ridge. I go as fast as I can, cresting over Carson Pass and back down again while listening stressfully to my book. There are more day hikers everywhere and they all smell so good. Shampoo, whoa! Out of my way, good smelling people. I’m on a mission.

When I get to the trailhead I thump my pack down next to Jumbo and then sprint to the pit toilet. I’m telling you, there is something magical about not having to dig a cathole while you’re out here. After that task, I go back to the table with Jumbo and Jack Rabbit, Captain Something, and company. I drink a Pepsi that someone left as trail magic. (Andy, if you’re reading this, I definitely didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have if it were a Coke.) Then it’s lunchtime. Somewhere between those things, I work on Jumbo’s nails. He smudged his smiley faces that I painted on a few nights ago, so we’re trying to get them right this time. But he’s one of those people who has no patience for such things and has to be doing something all the time, so he inevitably smudges them again. Alas. I guess we can work on them in town tomorrow.

Tribute and Beetle show up soon after I get there, and we all sit together eating lunch. Around 2, Rachel arrives via her friend’s car. She’s so cool! She already has so much amazing ultralight gear, and we all ooh and aah over her purple Gossamer Gear pack. She immediately fits right into the tramily, and it’s cute to see her and Beetle together.

Once we’re all sated, emptied, and acquainted, we cross the road and start moving again. I don’t really have a particular hankering for going fast, so I walk with Jumbo for a while. First it’s uphill through yellow flowers that I later learn are mule’s ears, then it’s a downhill where we step aside to let a woman on a horse pass. Beetle is very excited because it’s the first horse he’s seen on trail. Then the PCT turns into a huge, flat, sweeping meadow. It is so beautiful, with rivers meandering through and trees on the edges. Jumbo and I fall behind, then catch up with Beetle and Rachel snacking on a rock. Beetle shares some of his honey Dijon chips with me and wow, why have I spent my life eating anything else?

It’s not much farther to Showers Lake. We planned to camp a little closer to Tahoe, but this is just such a lovely spot and we can’t pass it up. We’re here early for once, and I actually have time to set up my tent, crawl inside, and take a nap before dinner. When I wake up, everyone is dispersed. I gather water, talk to Jack Rabbit for a minute, then come back and cook with Tribute, Jumbo, Beetle, and Rachel. After dinner I go to check out a vista that everyone’s raving about, and I realize why when I get up there: the edge of Lake Tahoe is visible and everything is a vibrant glowing green. Okay, Northern California. I see you. You’re gorgeous too.

I stretch, brush my teeth, and chat with Jumbo by the edge of the lake for a minute, then we retreat to our tents to escape the wind and mosquitoes. I’m all cozy in here, and tomorrow’s a town day! This trail just keeps getting sweeter.

One thought on “PCT Day 72: Bless U Carson Pass

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s