PCT Day 73: Nero to Tahoe

June 30, 2022

Showers Lake at mile 1081.9 to US 50 crossing at mile 1090.8 to South Lake Tahoe

8.9 miles

Town day! Town day! I wake up marginally quickly, pack up, eat a quick breakfast, and get ready to hike the 9 miles into Tahoe. I feel like I’ve been fairly effective, but Tribute is rearing to go and is already gone by the time I’m brushing my teeth, and Jumbo stands by with a bemused look on his face, as if to say, “How did you win that packing-up contest again?” Whatever. I’m ready fast enough, and we start heading downhill towards South Lake Tahoe.

Jumbo is not moving well. His shins are very much splinting. “Ouchie,” he says sadly, passing Tribute and me while we’re pulled over on our phones. I hike alone for a while, then with Tribute, then alone again, until we all merge together right before town. There are huge rocks, huge views, and huge trees. Then there’s a burn area where the Caldor Fire burned last year. It’s sad to see burnt forest, but there’s also a certain kind of beauty in it. The light coming through the dry orangeish leaves is almost autumnal, and the smell is not entirely unpleasant.

At the road, we run into Zelda waiting for a ride. We chat with her for a bit, see a hiker get a hitch almost immediately, and then head out to the road and stick our thumbs out. I don’t have much luck, and Jumbo has to try for a long time before someone comes by, drops off some hikers on the north side of the road, and then turns around to get us. I guess technically he didn’t get the hitch because they were already stopping anyway, but we’ll give him the credit. It turns out to be a local trail angel who hosts hikers and gives them rides. I completely forget her name, unfortunately, but I think it has something to do with ukuleles. She drives us down to South Lake Tahoe, and it’s a beautiful drive.

In town, we pass an intersection where I happen to look right. I gasp. Are my eyes deceiving me? “Look!” I call, and everyone turns their heads towards the black bear casually ambling across the road. Cue the collective freak-out. We’ve been in the woods in black bear territory for weeks now, and yet the first time we see a bear it’s in the middle of a city. Life is funny.

Our driver drops us off at Chipotle, which we’ve been fantasizing about for days. I can’t remember if I wrote about this, but on the first night of the PCT at Hauser Creek, Jumbo told the story of how he was so excited to go to Chipotle in San Diego, but he didn’t know what to order, and somehow, he ended up with a rice taco. Like, literally just rice in it. I thought it was hilarious, and Andy and I laughed about it many times over the course of the first week. I was determined to get Jumbo back to a Chipotle and order for him so that he could properly experience it. It’s a very big moment when he takes his first bite of the gargantuan burrito bowl piled high with steak and chicken. He loves it. Meanwhile, Tribute and I both smash our own bowls. In everyday life, it’s impossible for me to consume a whole Chipotle bowl, but this is trail life, baby. It’s so satisfying.

After Chipotle we walk to the Raley’s for resupply. I manage to keep mine pretty reasonable because I still have some food left, and I specifically look for the things that are on sale. Still, it comes out to around $70. Man. I’ll never get used to California prices. We make a little side trip to Starbucks after grocery shopping, where Tribute uses his gift card funds to buy us cold caffeinated drinks. What a treat!

We head across the street to the Mellow Mountain Hostel, where we’ll be staying for two nights. It’s a cool place. It seems like it might have been a motel at one point but was converted into a hostel. Our room has its own bathroom and shower, which is very luxurious for a hostel. There’s cool art all over the walls, a computer room next to our room, and a huge kitchen and common sitting area. We chill there for a bit, do laundry, take showers, use the internet, and enjoy the thought of not having to do anything tomorrow. It’s really nice to use a computer again. It makes blogging a lot easier.

Later, we go out for dinner at the pub-type place across the street. We each have several drinks. I’m feeling pretty good after that, and I decide I want to go dance. Tribute starts googling to see if there are any nightclubs open in the area but finds nothing. It’s a holiday weekend! What’s going on? I guess it is Thursday. We decide to just go on a quest and see what happens. Our first stop after dinner is one of the casinos across the Nevada-California state line. We sort of just wander around drinking overpriced beers and ogling at everything. Then we run into the group that includes Captain Something, and we watch Billie Goat win a very impressive $72 at Blackjack.

By now Tribute has disappeared, so Jumbo and I wander around trying to find him. He texts us that he’s at the Hard Rock, then the CVS, so we go over and finally find him. Have you ever been in a CVS while mildly drunk in Nevada while you’re hiking PCT? It’s much more hilarious in there than it is sober and in any other context. Tribute and I giggle about something inconsequential while Jumbo buys a huge bottle of body wash because the little soap at the hostel didn’t satisfy him, apparently.

I still want to dance, though, so when we pass a bar that has loud music and lights on a floor that looks like it might eventually turn into a dance floor, Tribute makes a hard left and ushers us in. I order an Old Fashioned, which is weird because I don’t generally love Old Fashioneds, and the three of us sit at a booth wondering why no one is dancing. Jumbo and Tribute try to get me to go out there on my own, but I don’t think I’m at that point yet. So Tribute goes up to the bar to get a round of shots. But apparently he looks *too drunk* to be in a bar in Nevada? And he gets us kicked out. Did that just happen? We walk back to the hostel, at a loss for where else we can find dancing, and simply end up in the room watching music videos on YouTube and giggling about things that were probably not that funny. I wake up at 1:30 on the bottom bunk, with my contacts still in, not having brushed my teeth, and I feel like an absolute creature. Shaking my head, I go into the bathroom and put myself right, climb unsteadily up the ladder to my bed, and go to sleep for real.

Zero days! An adventure in their own right.

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