PCT 2020 Day 28

Finishing the PCT (Cheer Edition)

“We will run and scream
You will dance with me
We’ll fulfill our dreams and we’ll be free

We will be who we are
And they’ll heal our scars
Sadness will be far away”
– Birdy/Mumford & Sons (Learn Me Right from Brave)

The 6:22am sunrise this morning was particularly pretty, as if foreshadowing (foreshining?) that today was going to be a good day. Our camp was only a few miles hike to Carson Pass, a spot that didn’t necessarily bring any of us good memories, but which we were excited to reach. You see, it was there, at a roadside parking area and picnic table that the three of us had our last team meeting together in 2019. Together, we had been hiking south to try and finish the trail, but… well, here’s a little snippet from that day’s post, Oct. 1, 2019…

“Welp…that was our coldest night on trail yet. I personally did not sleep great. My whole body was fairly warm thanks to all my layers (double socks, Smartwool baselayer top and bottom, sweat pants, Melanzana hoodie, and beanie), but the frigid air coming in at my sleeping bag opening kept things chilly

We had a sort of team meeting each still in our tents and sleeping bags (we were all set up close), checking in with one another about how the night went and how each of us feels about continuing on. The extreme cold and the higher than anticipated volume of snow had us worried. We wondered if it was just going to get worse being late in the season at this point. After some back and forth about all the feelings, we decided we’d continue ahead to a road that the trail crossed about 5 miles ahead. If we were to bail out, this would be the spot to do it since it has access back to South Lake Tahoe...

About 2 miles in or so, we stopped and had another impromptu team chat. This all felt very similar to the first time we made the call to leave the Sierra back in June. And just like then, we kept postponing the time when we had to actually make the decision. And so we hiked on through more gorgeous, but also intimidating, scenery...

There was a somber mood in the air as we had finally reached the point of making a decision. Ultimately, Cheer and Calzone made the tough call to end their 2019 PCT adventures here. I say 2019, because schemes were very quickly being talked about for a 2020 reunion tour to finish this beast of a trail.

Setting out from camp this morning, that’s what we were making happen. A year of waiting and scheming to get back to this point. And it was happening. They were doing it! Or at least partially. Sort of like when we reached the Canadian border the year prior, we knew we still had more to go, more to hike afterwards, and so here too was that feeling.

Once again taking a little trip back in 2019 memory lane, about a week before that October 1 day of days, Calzone had gotten sick and made the smart decision to bail off the PCT into South Lake Tahoe. She’d skipped a section of about 50-miles or so, and thus it was our goal to keep trekking and cover those miles as well. We’d continue on as a team for Calzone, but at Carson Pass, Cheer would finally be piecing her PCT miles together, completing the the trail in its entirety, and for that we were super excited to celebrate!


The morning views were lovely…

Very close now!

We stopped at a small lake/pond just before going down to the road crossing, and then we were there. Cheer just kept at it, never gave up on this dream, and finished the PCT in her own unique way. Woo Hoo!!!

OK ok, we were trying to look nice and such. Now, here’s our inner emotions coming out…

Actually, the truth is that this photo was a recreation inspired by our last photo together in 2019. Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” song had been a big hit for us during much of our hiking, so it was only fitting that parting the PCT in 2019, we’d create a timer-pose Aerosmith-themed photo. Here’s the original, both at that same PCT sign post…

And just like that, we kept moving onward. One goal completed, another still to hike towards!

It’s funny, I remembered this section really well. It was different the year prior, covered in snow, but I remember really digging it. Neither Cheer and Calzone had much recollections of it though.

Here’s the spot where I believe the Tahoe Rim Trail meets up with the PCT. They go together for a good ways going north.

And then, around lunch, we made it to the lake where we had that last frigid night camping together, the one described above.

A bit of a different feel to it this go around, I believe we went for a swim and spent a few hours hanging by the lake 🙂

And I showed the team the “hidden” viewpoint I’d found when running around that cold morning, trying to keep myself warm…

More beautiful views when we continued hiking that afternoon. This Tahoe area is pretty special.

Straight chilling…

This last pic was near to where we ended up camping. I think we could have gone further, but since it was so great, looked for a spot nearby and what we found for was amazing. It took us some time to find it since the slide slope eliminated most spots, but a bit off trail, we found enough space for one of my fav spots ever. Just one of those that felt like you were propped up on the side of the mountain (which we were) and had such an open view looking out.

My tent was a bit away from Calzone and Cheer, but we had a great time eating dinner and chatting while watching stars and such. Calzone also took a picture that would be one of our most favorite of the entire trip. At first, it was all shadowy, but after some super editing, she came up with this beauty!

What a treat for Cheer on the day she completed the Pacific Crest Trail 🙂

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