Day 79: mile 1125.7 to Donner Pass to Lake of the Pines

7.3.18. 27.7 miles.

I woke up at my usual time, 5 am, and got packed up, admiring the really pretty sunrise over Lake Tahoe from my camp spot. The morning temps were perfect for hiking, but within 30 minutes of starting, I smelled and saw smoke in the air. Curious about where it was coming from, I asked Instagram about it and apparently there is a fire near Sacramento that is blowing smoke this way, which made sense since the winds were blowing east pretty hard all morning.

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The first climb was pretty mild and I spent the majority of it along a ridge until I got to the Alpine Meadows ski lift area. I was sort of leap frogging with another hiker, Tin Man, for the morning, and we chatted about dogs as we descended the mountain. The next climb was much harder, and just seemed to drag on for me, as I was getting tired and ready for a little lunch break since it had been about 15 miles of hiking so far. I only took a break for 45 minutes, as it was already 1 pm and I still had a ways to go! I went back down the mountain, running into many day hikers as there are day hiking trails that start from Squaw Valley.

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The next ascent seemed easier even though it was steeper, maybe because I stopped to filter water halfway up, since it was the last water source until the highway! The top of the climb was to Tinker Knob, a big volcanic rock thing, and the views were so gorgeous! The ridge walk for the majority of the rest of the hike was absolutely awesome too. It was super windy, but no where near as bad as Tehachapi.

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With 3 miles to go, I needed a poop break, and as I was finishing, an older man appeared who is a local and was out for a hike, and hiked the PCT in 2002! We walked down some of the way together, until we got down to rocky switchbacks and I saw my mom and Riley waiting for me! Riley ran up to greet me, very happy to see me, and I’m sure also happy to be out on a little hike herself. We walked back to the car where my dad was, and I insisted on walking to the real parking lot where they’d drop me off, so I met them up there, walking with Riley.

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It was so nice to see them and know I had some real time off! We drove down to my favorite ice cream place at Donner Lake and then hit the road to go back to the lakehouse, about a 1 hour drive. Of course, I needed a pit stop at In n Out for dinner.

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We got home around 8:30ish to a house full of family & friends, some family I hadn’t seen in 10 years! It was very overwhelming, and I had yet to shower. So after saying some hellos and finishing my dinner, I got in the shower while my parents made up my bed in the van (no beds available since there were so many people over), and then I went to bed! Such a tiring day, but ok since I get lots of rest the next few days!