So I spent a week with a trail angel family in Meyers (right next to South Lake Tahoe) while I was off the trail because I had to go to the doctor and then recover. The family consisted of two sons – Charlie and Ted – and the parents Missy and Ken. Charlie had actually started the pct just days after us but got a foot injury and had to spend seven weeks recovering! But he’s ready to get back on trail next week.
Charlie is a bike mechanic, a snowboarder, rock climber and a big time hiker. Ted is a mountain biker and used to work with the forest fire department. Missy really became my American mom, she’s just so caring and helpful. And Ken is just the nicest guy, so calm, kind and friendly. The whole time we spent with this family we felt like home and we really will miss this place!
The next morning we slept until about 7:30 and then had breakfast. Charlie and Missy had to go to Carson City for a doctor’s appointment so while we waited for them to come back Kristians and I went to the post office. We sent away our crampons and ice axes and also sent our postcards. We also dropped by the store because Kristians wanted to eat more. And Spacejam had lunch at the Mexican place.
Once Charlie returned we took bikes and cycled all the way to Lake Tahoe. We talked about the history of the lakes, the ski resorts and Charlie pointed out all the peaks around. We cycled through the Tallac estates and saw where the illegal casino used to be. Then, as we cycled towards the dog beach, Charlie said there are often bears in the forest right there. A second later Kristians says casually “there’s one!” so I thought he’s joking. But there really was one, a big golden-haired one. He was foraging for food and saw us well but didn’t seem to care at all.
We then slowly cycled back, this time through the city, where we ran some errands and then went to the famous Lake Tahoe Pizza Company. After eating as much as we could of our massive vegan pizzas we slowly pedalled back to Meyers. The weather had been great the whole day and we were all so happy to be cycling – it had been a long time.
In the evening I cooked dinner for everyone and we sat around for long on the balcony, laughing and talking.
In the morning Spacejam headed back on the trail while we had to run some errands. After breakfast we headed to the main post office in town and found out that while Kristians had both of his packages delivered mine was not. As I later found out it had gone on a trip of its own – towards San Francisco on the coast and then to Reno on the other side of the Sierras. So no package for me – not yet anyways.
When we got back for lunch we planned to go cycling again but we received a message from our European friends about a change in plans: they were supposed to pick us up the next morning and then we’d drive to Yosemite; but as they had now investigated the map some more they realized that it’d be a 4h roundtrip and wouldn’t make sense. So then we decided we’d instead hitchhike to Lee Vining (which is sort of the entry to Yosemite NP) the same evening, have a BBQ and chill out.
Thankfully Missy could drop us off at Gardnerville so that we’d be on the correct highway. Due to that we only needed to hitch for about 10 minutes before succeeding – a lovely woman from Chester picked us up. As it turned out she’s also a pct trail angel there, so maybe we’ll see her again! We also picked up two other pct hikers at the Carson Pass road and dropped them off at Bridgeport. We had a lot of fun in the car and especially enjoyed Olivia – the cutest dog, captain of the car.
So we got to Lee Vining at about 6 in the evening, found our friends at the campsite and then rested for the evening, ironing out the plan for the next day and doing BBQ. I hoped that after having patched another hole on my matress I’d get a good night’s sleep but it wasn’t meant to be. Apparently there were more than two holes.
We started driving towards the Yosemite Valley at around 9 and it took about 2 hours to get there. We stopped at the Lembert Dome to take some pictures and later also at a random place by the road as there was a bear and everyone had stopped. The views were amazing the whole way but especially so as we entered the valley.
We were first awarded by views of El Capitan – the famous climbing wall where Honnold and Caldwell had just broken the speed record a day before. But as the roads in the valley are one-way we decided we’d go through there on our way back.
Next we saw the Yosemite Falls to our left and then the Bridalveil Falls on our right. In the very end of the valley we spotted Half Dome and decided to drive there first as it was the furthest point in the valley. We managed to find a parking spot in between hundreds of cars and then walked out onto the meadow to take some photos.
After the photosession we drove down to the parking lot by Camp 4 and then went our separate ways: Kristians had decided to run up the four mile trail to Glacier Point while me, Siim and Liis would go see the Yosemite Falls, museum and visitor center.
The Falls area was pretty crowded but we still managed to get good photos and a lot of spray. It’s apparently the highest waterfall in Northern US. We decided not to hike up the trail that takes you to where the water drops from because both Siim and Liis are a bit afraid of heights and cannot do trails that are too exposed. But nevertheless we had a great walk and we built our own cairns, too.
The museum was pretty cool – lots of paintings featuring the views of the valley but also a lot of artifacts from the native Indians that used to live in the Valley. It was also interesting to read about how white people discovered the valley and made it into the tourist attraction it is today. Additionnally they have a lot if information about the geographical history of the area.
Later on it was time to meet Kristians at the agreed time but we thought we had still about half an hour left so we went for a quick snack and also checked out the Merced River. When we finally caught up with Kristians it turned out he had already been waiting for us for half an hour. And while we were chatting we saw a coyote just walking around the parking lot, how weird!
As the final thing to tick off on our to do list we drove to the base of El Capitan. Just as we were about to park behind a gray van I yelled: “That’s Tommy Caldwell!!!” What are the odds that he was there that afternoon, a day after their record climb, and that we were to park right there. Of course we went full fangirl and asked to get a selfie with him. He was very friendly and chatted with us for a minute. What a day!
Then we hiked/bushwacked to the base of the wall, just to touch it. We saw some climbers still on the wall but mostly admired the fact that there were basically no holds on the wall – no idea how they climb this?! Nevertheless it was amazing just to be there as the sun was slowly lowering behind the surrounding hills. This was where climbing had started.
We then slowly drove back out of the valley, stopping at places to take some more photos. At one point we suddenly saw a big bear by the roadside and stopped – he seemed injured at his left shoulder or arm. But he quickly ran across the road behind us, seemingly spooked by our existence. We let him be and drove on. Two bears in one day!
We stopped by Lee Vining again on our way, to get some food for the evening, with the plan to camp at the Buckeye Campground for the night. But when we later reached the last bit of road prior the campground and hot springs we realized the road was gravel and not paved. As the rental car insurance didn’t cover gravel roads we had to turn around.
Luckily there was a privately owned campground right there but as the reception was already closed we just drove in and decided to go do the paperwork in the morning. It was already pretty chilly outside so we ate quite fast and then went to sleep. Another night on an empty matress for me.
In the morning, after eating and packing up, we wanted to go to the reception but it was still closed, even at 9 o’clock! So we just drove out as if nothing had happened.
We continued towards Gardnerville and further on to South Lake Tahoe, which we this time entered from the north end. We saw all the ski chalet’s and the mansions of the millionaires. On our way we also popped by the post office but to no avail – my package was still in transit somewhere, for a week already. So we decided to go and have lunch instead.
When Liis and Siim dropped us off at our trail angel home we were welcomed by a Danish flag! It was funny – Missy considers us half Danish as we used to live there for 6 years. Anyway, we said good bye to our friends and agreed to meet up in Tallinn when we get back to Estonia in September.
We said hi to Charlie, Daisy and Missy and then went for another bikeride with Charlie. This time we cycled a difficult uphill road over Mt Tahoe and then down to Fallen Leaf Lake. It was much windier than it was the previous time I was there but still beautiful. We sat for about 45 minutes, looking for pretty rocks by the water or throwing pinecones into the waves and then trying to aim for them with rocks.
We then cycled back towards ‘home’ but went through town because I needed some food for the hike ahead. The way back went fast despite the wind and when we got back Kristians and I cooked dinner for everyone – pasta and salad. We had dinner and then Ken got back too. We spent the evening chatting and playing Yahtzee; Charlie won again even though I had a very good game this time. But what can you do.
Tomorrow it’s time to head back on trail!