Pacific Crest Trail SOBO Southern 1/2, Part 6

Day Nine

August 26-17

Tahoe Rim Camp – Dick’s Lake ‘Busted’ Camp

23 miles (3 of which an accidental side trip)/8.5hrs


I meet an older retired fellow from Nevada wearing a tie-died shirt. A self-proclaimed ‘communist’. I walk and talk with him for three miles. Human contact that’s been rare on this hike. He thinks he’s slowing me down but I’m actually winded keeping up. I have a pack and he doesn’t. He’s stronger than he thinks.


The characters you you meet while walking. The energy of others you feel in doses mild and strong. The kind, loving, caring and inspired; the mean, spiteful, frightening and bitter. You sense who a person is and know immediately if you get away, fast, or seek this person out.


So my new friend, the ‘communist’, has just traveled to Canada. I ask what he thinks of his northern neighbor and he replies with hesitation ‘well, I hope I’m not offending you, but it’s seems not much more than an ‘America Lite’’. I’m not offended and ask for elaboration. He speaks of the tar sands, the state of Indigenous Peoples and their rights, the history that is still denied by many when it comes to colonialism, and much more. I’m intrigued and not insulted.


He tells me about his use of CBD cannabis tinctures and how he’s finally able to sleep after years of insomnia ‘Nothing else worked. If I don’t sleep, I don’t feel like getting out here. Being out here is more medicine for me. I need this.’ He tells me how his Medicare premiums are as much as supplemental health insurance in Canada. How being a retired teacher doesn’t offer much but he gets by. He’s a Buddhist raised by parents ‘who taught me to be hate. To be a racist. My father had one factory job his whole life. That and the military.’


I ask him how he learned to think for himself. How he is so strong. ‘Buddhism. The Dalai Lhama is the greatest man on earth, in my opinion. I believe I was a good person in other lives, and this has helped me in this one.


He asks if I’ve reached enlightenment on the trail. I tell him I’m not sure, but I have felt pure and absolute bliss. I’ve cried tears of happiness out on this trail because of a tree, a view, a blue sky or a mountain top. He tells me of a lake he visited from a film called the Deer Hunter. ‘I finally got to that lake. It took me 5 years to make the time to get there and I cried. You’re going to be just fine out here, RedFeather.’


We part ways. He leaves me much to ponder. It’s like that on the trail. You realize how you can affect others and how others affect you. When it’s positive it’s wonderful and passes time in the best of ways; when it’s negative or confrontational, you bring the baggage of the encounter and must work hard to let it go. Nature helps in both ways. It clears the mind and brushes off the negativity. Time and again.


So I walk. Stop to filter water after many hours. Soak the feet. It’s hot. I feel good. No rush. Many day hikers around because I’m in the Desolation Wilderness. It’s a weekend and all of Reno/SAN Francisco and Tahoe seem to have come to play. It’s okay, I’ve had my week of mainly solitude.


I set out again and take a wrong turn at a junction. Walk 3 miles out of my way round trip. I can only laugh.


Up up up I climb on the correct trail, stopping at Dick’s Lake. I pitch my tent, get water and rinse off. Just as I’m getting dressed, two young Nationals Forest Service Rangers stop to say hello. Well actually they stop to check my backcountry wilderness permit which I don’t have. Whoops. I messed up thinking I didn’t need the PCT more-than-500 mile thru-hiker (even though I’m half a thru-hiker haha) permit until Yosemite. I just wasn’t sure if I could pull the hike off so out this off. Which gave me a $105 fine and an embarrassing moment of being asked to move my camp because I’m in that perfect spot right beside the water where you are definitely NOT supposed to be camping. Double whoops.




Oh well.


Time me for a zero. Tahoe here I come.




© 2023. Clara Hughes. All Rights Reserved. Site Design | SGD