August 23 & 24 (Zero days)
I enjoy the best zeros. Two days of sleeping in and not too many chores to do. It feels, simply, amazing. I buy lots of food at the grocery store and sit at the coffee place in South Lake Tahoe’s very expensive Edgewood Hotel, and watch posh people buy glass Voss water bottles.
After all those long hiking days, I can finally relax, and I’m looking forward to entering the High Sierras next. More than anything, I’m looking forward to take my time to actually enjoy them. There’s no use to aim to finish the PCT by a certain completion date – I’ve lost so many days to travelling and snow already. My flight is booked for the 20th September, and as long as I reach Kennedy Meadows by the 17th, I’ll have enough time to find my way back to LAX. Right now, all I care about is simply finishing the trail.
So to avoid any surprises, I create a schedule with all the possible resupply points, and I calculate that I’ll only need to do 21 mile days. It’s perfect. I’m sure that with the elevation the days will prove more difficult than expected, but 21 miles is an easy goal for a thruhiker – and at least it’s not 25, or 30. It means I’ll definitely be able to finish the PCT, and then to think that several months ago I had no idea if this was even going to be possible.
There’s just one thing I need for the Sierras, and that’s some extra gear – most importantly the mandatory bear can. Luckily for me, I don’t need to buy a new one. When I was hiking with Speedy and Prince and we were considering going into the Sierras, Prince had his bear can shipped to Ridgecrest, and then left it behind at Triple Crown Outfitters in Kennedy Meadows. We thought we would be back to hike the Sierras later in the season, but both him and Speedy ended up leaving the trail. As such he asked the outfitters to post the bear can to South Lake Tahoe, and I pick it up from the post office – a BV500 for free! Thanks Prince!
As the bear can requires some reorganisation of my pack, I ordered a larger ZPacks dry bag for my quilt (which will now fit at the bottom of my pack instead of upright next to my tent) and I also got the tiny lightweight Dyneema Composite fabric (aka very light) wallet I’ve been coveting ever since starting the hike. I’ve been using ziplock bags to hold my money and cards and every time I find myself in a gear shop I’ve been looking at tiny stuff sacks that would fit better, but with no success. So I finally ordered the ZPacks wallet, and it’s honestly the best $10 I’ve ever spend.
Then, at the end of my second day off it’s time to head back to the trail. I take the bus to the far end of town to hitch back to the highway close to Echo Lake. I worry about not getting a ride, but just like most of the time, someone stops within about ten minutes. A man driving back to Sacramento stops, even though he has no idea about the PCT and what I’m really doing out here. He drops me off at the parking lot where I previously resumed my way northbound after finishing the desert months ago, and now it’s time to go south, and complete the last remaining section of the trail.
I have no plans of hiking today, so I find a spot close to the start of the trail. It’s funny to be back on trail in the evening of a zero day – usually I leave town in the morning, before resuming a full hiking day. It’s quite relaxing to be able to just set up my tent, hang out and then continue in the mornings he following day.
I set up right next to the trail and hide the bear can for the first time, in between small trees close by. Supposedly an adolescent bear has been opportunistic and has been stealing food from people around here, so all I can do is hope it doesn’t try and do the same to me. Either way, I’m here, and after two days of much needed rest, I’m ready for the next stretch: the Sierras!