Day 6–16.1 miles hiked (which includes the one mile walk in town to my hotel, because road walking is so much more painful on feet compared to trail walking!)
I woke up early and was rewarded after another rotten night’s sleep with a magnificent sunrise over Lake Tahoe. I’m not sure what the answer is to sleeping better in the woods on a multi day hike, but I hope I can eventually figure out a consistent way to do it!
It was the coldest morning yet, so I hustled out of camp in many more layers than I have worn this entire trip! Part of my hustling also had something to do with Tahoe City being the end result of my hiking for the day. I met another TRT thru hiker going the opposite direction early in the morning, and he had spent the night in town the night before. He told me a good place to eat and that was it, I could not get the thought of fresh food off my mind for the rest of the morning!
The miles went by fairly quickly and the scenery changed yet again, this time resembling parts of Montana. I’m amazed at how many different landscapes I have encountered in just six days on the trail.
About 9 miles into my hike, I came around a bend in the trail and much to my surprise and theirs, I found myself staring at a mama bear and her two adolescent cubs, no more than 20 feet away. The cubs scrambled off quickly, but the mom paused for a second or two. I backtracked (without running which is the worst thing to do) to make sure she knew I was giving her the space she wanted. She then lumbered off after the cubs. I’ve run into many bears in the Smokies, but this girl was much bigger than the ones I’m used to seeing. Thankfully I had cell coverage and so I called Larry, a bit flustered. I wanted another hiker to come by, so we could go through that area together. It was so thick with brush and I was scared I would surprise them again. No one ever did come by, so Larry and I talked as I eventually walked through again, yelling ” Hey bear! Comin’ through bear!” We lost reception, but I just kept hollering out until I finally came to a much more popular part of the trail and saw other people. Oh, and it started snowing on me about 4 miles outside of town! I also encountered two different men on the trail who wouldn’t speak to me when I walked by and said hello. They both smiled and nodded as we passed each other, and the second one put his hands together and bowed towards me. They were probably on a silent meditation retreat of sorts, and their friendly faces were a welcome sight after the bear encounter!
I hiked into Tahoe City around 2:30 and walked into the first restaurant I found. I had a huge Cobb salad that hit the spot! Larry’s reaction to my choice of food cracked me up–“You just spent 6 days in the woods and the first thing you want is a salad?!” Yep, and it was perfect!
I finally found a vacant hotel room (there are many hikers who also got off the trail because of the snow, apparently) and I lounged in the most hilarious bathtub I’ve ever seen! Under normal circumstances I would have laughed at it but never dared get in it (because c’mon, you can only imagine the stories it could tell, right?!) but it was just too inviting and I couldn’t resist.
That night, curious to know how common it is to encounter bears in this area, I made the mistake of googling wild animal encounters on the TRT. Interestingly, people don’t seem to see bears nearly as much as they see mountain lions, especially in the next half of the trail I am hiking (although no one has ever been attacked by one, thankfully). Very sleep deprived, I went to bed feeling scared, vulnerable, and homesick for Larry and the kids.
In my 20’s, before I had a husband and kids, I was much more carefree with my time spent in the woods. While I was cautious and took necessary steps to avoid anything happening, no one was counting on me to come home and be their mom and wife. That was a game changer for me, and I hate that it makes me more anxious when I’m alone in the woods sometimes.
This morning though, with a clearer and more rested brain, It was easier to acknowledge that I’m completely overreacting stastically. If I’m going to fear any “wildlife” while I’m hiking, it’s something much, much smaller than any mammal I should worry about–ticks and the horrible diseases they can transmit are a much bigger threat to hikers. And of course some would argue that women shouldn’t hike alone, and I am sickened by tragic things have that have happened on occasion to women hiking solo; but thankfully those incidents are few and far between, and I know I am much more likely to die in a car accident than I am being assaulted on a hike.
I spent today in Tahoe City doing laundry, changing hotels (to a less expensive one that was booked up the night before), picking up my mailed supply of food at the post office (and mailing a portion of it back to myself to pick up in 5 days when I finish–I am not making the same mistake twice of bringing too much!), and enjoying the lake from the ground level instead of from high above. I decided to stay an extra night in town since I’m ahead of schedule and to let the snow melt a bit in the higher elevations.
I picked up a local real estate publication, only because I love looking at real estate prices in various parts of the world, and found a listing for $23,900,000!! Seriously, who even has that kind of money because there are a heck of a lot better things they could be doing with it than spending that much on a house!
I miss the trail and can’t wait to get back out there tomorrow and see the next half–only 82.7 miles left!