Date: Friday, 29 September 2017
Start: Camped by the trail at Mile 1143.9, 7740 ft
Finish: Where the PCT crosses Hwy 40 near Donner Pass at Mile 1153.4, 7114 ft
Daily Miles: 9.5 PCT, 2.0 in town
Total PCT Miles: 2474.0
Weather: Mostly overcast and mild.
Accommodation: Dorm room at Redlight Hostel in Truckee
Lunch: Patty melt & fries
Dinner: Enchiladas, beans & rice, ice-cream.
Aches: None really.
Highlight: The views from Tinker Knob (9300 ft) at dawn, with the sun illuminating cliff faces ahead, and fog blanketing distant valleys below was fantastic.
Lowlight: I would prefer a motel room to a bunk in an 8-bed dorm, and might have enjoyed a zero day tomorrow, but Truckee is very expensive and very booked out.
Pictures: Click here
Rob and I were hiking by 6:00am, using our headlamps on a cold, but not bitterly cold, morning, hoping to cover the 9.5 miles to the Hwy 40 by late morning so that we could hitchhike into Truckee in time for lunch. Our hike started with a climb of about 800 ft to near Tinker Knob, a bare rock outcrop, from where we had superb views of the trail ahead winding along a ridge, and over the Donner Pass as well as way back to Lake Tahoe. There was a cold wind, but this scene before us was worth it.
From there, we followed the ridge northwards in a bitterly cold wind, with clouds depriving us of the sun’s warmth, and we both got pretty cold. But because of the mostly bare rocky terrain and our high trail, there was always something to look at, including some weird rock formations. In the distance could be seen the I-80 freeway running through Donner Pass, and we knew that somewhere in between was Hwy 40, our destination.
We had one more solid little climb before a steady, and in parts very rocky, descent down to Hwy 40. We started hitching immediately, and the second car, driven by Kerrie, a former pro-MTB racer, and now a teacher playing truant for the day, picked us up in her small pickup. We threw our packs in the back and then squeezed into the cab, which we shared with a very large labrador for the ride into town. The dog lay on us (it was pretty heavy after a while) and spent most of the trip giving Rob a wash. It was a fun ride down the mountain, and Kerrie went out of her way to deliver us to the best hamburger restaurant in town.
After a scrumptious lunch, Rob adjourned to the bus station, from where he will be travelling to Reno and then his flight back to Connecticut. I visited the hostel (not open until 4pm) and managed to get them to let me leave my pack there while I walked back to the new part of town and bought food for the next four days and a new sleeping bag liner. After shopping I had time to return to where Rob was killing time until his bus arrived and keep him company. Having not seen each other for 14 years, it was remarkable how well we got on during our hike, and hopefully there will be more in our future, perhaps in Australia. A book Rob wrote about a hiking trip of his in Scotland is getting published soon, and I look forward to reading it.
After returning to the hostel, which is a bit pretentious and governed by a multitude of rules, I showered and paid for my laundry to be done before catching up on some tasks and then heading out to buy some dinner. A guy we met in the burger restaurant at lunchtime kindly offered to drive me back to the trailhead tomorrow morning, so I will have an early breakfast at a nearby diner and then meet him at the bus station at 8am for the drive back up.