September 22: 14 miles

Watson Lake to Tahoe City

In my mind I want to get up early and be hiking by 8. Such a sucker for ideal plans! We’re hiking at 9:30…

Remember on an earlier day my asking why it’s taking longer to get packed and going on the TRT that it did on The Long Trail? Well, there were Shelters on The Long Trail. We only slept in the tent three times. The tent takes 20 minutes to setup or take down. The gear in the tent is harder to get in and out and has to be organized along the sides. In the shelters there’s no space constraint. Ha… took 10 days to recall and understand that!

Today is going to be a long day. I have a room at Mother Nature’s Inn booked for tonight. It’s 16 miles from Watson Lake to Tahoe City. Then about another mile to the Inn.

The sign here says 12 miles to Tahoe City. My hiking app says 14 miles… We’ll see what the GPS tracking says when we get there.

We’re headed from 77760 to 6320 ft. Again, no straight lines…

After about 5 miles the terrain starts to get more rocky. I love the rocky crags and outcrops. More steep uphills and downhills.

The fine dusty trail that seems to be half of the Tahoe Rim Trail. One of the results of drought in this area.

Sherman’s on his leash today to conserve his energy. The first 5 miles is energetically easy.

There are a few steep inclines that take my breath away. There’s a metabolic change that happens running called getting your 2nd wind. Something similar happens hiking on a steep incline. Breathing get’s heavy. Heart rate goes up. The legs feel very heavy. The feeling of reaching the end of the line is right there. And then it all releases and there is energy, breathing is easy, heart rate decreases, legs are light… Such an amazing experience — each time!

Speaking of the dust…

About lot of the trail is shared with mountain bikers. A sub-set of them are a pain in the ass. They go too fast for a trail that’s shared. In doing so this group zooms by leaving us in a giant cloud of fine grained dust. Or they slam on their brakes to avoid hitting one or both of us.

The majority are friendly, watching out for hikers, dogs, horses sharing the trail. Some stop to chat. They get off the trail if we have the right of way. (The uphill party has the right of way, since they are exerting the most energy and it’s more difficult for them to regenerate the uphill momentum they have.)

That first category… mostly small groups of men…

As we near 10 miles Sherman is obviously getting tired. He’s looking for places to rest more frequently. So, we do rest more, with an occasional 15-20 min rest.

I call the Inn and leave a message that if they have a room we’d like to stay another night. We can use the rest.

Sherman is looking for even more rest stops. These are just for rest. He’s not thirsty. Typically he’s more thirsty than tired. Now it’s switched. I’m tired too. I can feel the spaced out sense in body and mind coming on. So when he goes off trail and lays down, I stop with him, stay standing and breathe deeply. In a few minutes he gets up and starts walking again. I’m taking my cues from him.

We pass a cliff. We’re on top. You can see the broken rock edges along the crest. We walk up to within 6-8 feet of the edge and look into the steep valley.

As we set out I didn’t put my hands through the loops on my hiking poles and it’s bugging me. I put the left pole in my right hand and slide the left hand through the loop. Then put the right pole in the left hand and slide the right hand through the loop. Just as I grab the right pole with my hand my right foot slides off a rock that’s maybe 3 inches high. I roll my right ankle. I don’t put full weight on it, but I definitely feel it. My first thought is, “Shit! Did the hike just end?”

I stop and test flexing my foot. Test rotating my foot. There’s a little discomfort. I test doing a squat. Standing on the right leg only. Walking straight. Walking in a circle. Walking in a wiggling line. The ankle is not 100%, but it’s completely functional. So, we continue down the trail. We are about 3 miles from Tahoe City. We’re both tired so are walking slowly anyway.

Every 10 minutes or so I stop and test my ankle again. I can feel that it’s a little swollen. Mobility and strength seem about the same as at the first test after the roll.

The first house we see as Tahoe City is visible nearby.

We reach the Tahoe City Trailhead and walk into town. The commercial area of Lake Blvd. is maybe a mile long. We walk to about the middle of this area and find Mother Nature’s Inn. Get our room and unpack.

The logistics are shower for Wyn first. Then bath for Sherman. With the trail being so dusty we are both filthy. As I start my shower there is brown water going down the drain.

Now it’s Sherman’s turn. How am I going ot do this? The shower is a 3 sided glass door shower, so the splashing will be contained. But what am I going to use for water? I fill the 5 liter bottles I have from the hike. The ice bucket in the room. A large wastebasket that turns out to be tightly woven basket and holds water pretty well. When I get Sherman wet his legs turn dark brown. He’s a white dog right?

After being clean and dry, tired feels very different. Much better!

Sherman curls up on the bed on top of a pillow. Remember the pillow picture from the Ridge Resort stop? Finding a plush pillow seems to be a priority in his recovery process.

Peggy and I talk and I tell her about my ankle. I say it feels 50-50 to me whether we’ll continue on stop. I’ll make the call tomorrow morning. If it’s still swollen and sore when rolling to the outside we’re done. I don’t want to repeat my mistaken straining of a knee injury that happened in Vermont. That one took 6 months to heal to the point it didn’t hurt and an additional 6 months for full mobility to return.

So… we’re in limbo about the last 5 days of the hike until morning. We’ve eaten diner. Have rested a bit and are ready for a well deserved rest. So it is…