I wake pretty early, with a love-hangover from yesterday. I have the best people in my life. While I hear Bill and Kelsey rustling around, they tell me they’re just off to get coffee, so I decide to stay in bed. It’s not for long, though – Pineapple said she wasn’t trying to make it far, and I think, if I haul, I can catch her. I think. So soon enough, I’m up doing stuff – last-minute calls and texts and emails, and I’m sitting by the door by the time they come back with a friend in tow. Said friend is rad, and they’re rad, and it makes it hard to leave, but I have a lot to do today before I go.
They forgot something at the store, which, coincidentally, is where I need to go, so I bid everyone goodbye and Kelsey gives me a ride. I get extra hugs and good wishes from her, and then we go our separate ways. I’m into the print store to print a shipping label and ship yet another pair of shoes home, and then into the store myself, to resupply for this stretch and Sierra City and Belden. It’s an expensive resupply, as I expect, but it stings a little to check my bank account after. Well. I’ll just have to be more fiscally prudent.
To the post office to mail off my foodstuffs, then to the transit center, where I know I’ll find hikers and I do. I ask them how they’re getting back; there used to be a bus, but it ended– last week? This week? Who knows. It’s ended. So everyone’s stalling, trying to get a lift out of town. Alright.
I decide to try to catch some of the Wolfpack before I go; Sprinkles and Homegrown and Powder are at Grocery Outlet, and I agree to meet them there. There’s no bus from the transit center for another long while, so I decide to walk the mile to get there. Of course, when I do, the place is SO MUCH CHEAPER than the place I shopped at. But it’s too late now. We talk for a while; they try to convince me to stay, I try to convince them to come. We settle on hugs, and then I’m off and on my way out of town.
Of course I miss the bus back to the transit center; I start to walk again, then realize I should probably save my energy. The terrain looks fun today out of Echo Lake, a wee climb for a warmup, then a nearly 2000-foot climb up to Dick’s Pass, if I can make it that far. So I sit and I make more phone calls until the bus comes and it’s 10:15 – a-time to get a-hitchin.
I walk outside of town proper to give it a go – I’m by myself, and I have no idea if South Lake Tahoe has any regulations against hitchhiking in town like Bishop does, and I have no interest in any kind of police contact. A guy stops pretty quickly, and offers me a ride to Sawmill Road; I have no idea where that is, so I waffle back and forth for a minute before agreeing to the lift. It’s nice to get a little closer to Echo Summit, but it’s a terrible place to hitch the rest of the way, and Josh, a resident and fairly frequent hitcher, tells me so. Womp womp. He does give me the DL on a better place to stop, a light about a mile up. Well. Guess I was destined to do that walking anyway.
At the light, a gruff-but-not-unfriendly gentleman on his way to a sea fishing trip stops, picks me up. The conversation for the first bit is quite sparse, but I’m able to soften him up on the ride; by the end, the conversation’s flowing. I thank him profusely, and hope he catches something huge on his trip.
It’s 1pm by the time I reach Echo Summit – it’s taken me three hours to get back to the trail. C’est la vie.
I check my phone one last time and find I’ve got a number of texts from Pineapple – she only made it 5-odd miles last night, and is feeling pretty lethargic – she says she’ll probably camp 18 miles out at Velma Lake. That might be something I can do. Maybe.
There are still a load of dayhikers about, first at Echo Lake:
Then, as I’m saying goodbye to Echo Lake, around Aloha Lake, too:
I’m agog at the view and the number of tents around when I encounter the first Rangers I’ve seen in some time; they’re headed out on frontcountry leave. We have a lovely conversation about
escaping Ohio, and of course – although it’s clear they don’t reeeally want to – they ask me if I have my permit. Of course, do you want to see it? Nah, it’s mostly for the dayhikers and also they have to ask. I understand. Gotta protect those views tho.
I’m doing about 2.5 miles an hour, nice and steady, as I head down, down from Aloha Lake to half a dozen other tiny lakes. So much water! Maybe I’m not really in NorCal at all.
It’s at the base of the enormous climb that I reevaluate my situation – and find that the Velma Lakes are 19.9 miles from where I started the day, not 18. Whoops. There’s no way I’m making it to Pineapple on only 7 hours of hiking time. Maybe I’ll make it to Dicks Lake in another 5.5 or so, before the sun goes down, but definitely not to Velma. Not gonna happen.
I text Pineapple from the climb, tell her I’m going to end up only 2.3 behind her – if she wants to see me, she should wake up late or hike slow! As I’m writing, I almost trip over– uh, quail? Ptarmigan? Chicken? They look like chicken, even moreso when they walk and bob their heads, makes small clucking noises at– me? Ohmygosh they are clucking at babies, there are tiny mountain chickens running towards the big mountain chickens it’s too much cute. I pick my steps carefully so as not to squish anyone and continue on my way.
I catch a TRT hiker with a busted leg near the top, ask him if he needs anything – nah, just over here being a badass2, I’ll make it. I wonder if I’d have that strength. He says he saw some beavers earlier, and I wonder that there are beavers in NorCal3. So far, it’s a magical place that’s nothing like I’ve been told.
Things are out of order near the top – I get the view before I’m actually done climbing.
And then it’s the actual top of Dicks Pass, all pleasantly marked on a not-at-all-phallic sign.
The sun’s almost behind that ridge, so I’m scurrying downwards as fast as I can go, trying to actually make Dicks Lake and the water for camping.
I make it right around 8:30, “sneak” through a campsite full of kids for water, before getting there and realizing that was kind of rude. The leaders of the trip don’t mind – they chat with me about their group out of Houston and the high school program that’s a lot like Big City Mountaineers that they work for before I excuse myself to go set up in the growing darkness.
I fish my headlamp out of my sleeping bag and hork down my food by red light. Then it’s quick, in the bag and try to get off to sleep – I need to be well rested if I want to catch Pineapple. Fortunately, my brain is happy with both my progress today and my plan for tomorrow, and complies.
Start: 1090.0 • End: 1107.6 • Day: 17.6
Notable Accomplishments: Sent boxes ahead • Got out of town, with some difficulty • 17.6 miles in 7 hours – I’ll take it
 Probar Meals for $1.50. A dollar. Goddamn. Fifty. I JUST PAID $3.50 EACH FOR LIKE TWO WHEN I COULD HAVE GOTTEN A MILLION* FOR THE SAME PRICE.
*might be an exaggeration
 My words, not his.
 Are there beavers in NorCal? WHO KNOWS. (Maybe one of you?)
4 thoughts on “Day 79 – Mountain Chicken Day”
Days 80 & 81 lead to a link that says that the page could not be found.
I scheduled 81 because I already had it written, and then haven’t had the chance to jot down 80 – I’ll be posting both tomorrow.
I wonder if the bird was a grouse.
I learned afterwards (and after a few more heart-stopping encounters, damn they’re loud when they come up out of the brush) that they were wood grouse!