Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Western States 100 week Mon 22nd

I arrived Saturday evening in Reno before moving up to Squaw Valley on Sunday. The weather was uncharacteristically cool and windy but characteristically dry and wall-to-wall 'sunshiney'. It was great to meet Herman and Ann at the guesthouse again. It's been 6 years since I was here.
Squaw Valley from the deck.
Yesterday (Monday) was a hike to High Camp (top of cable car) the long way round (probably 10 miles). After a lot of floundering and asking for directions I found the secret, un-signposted entrance to the footpath between dwellings perched on the valley side. The path wound back and forth and climbed to meet the Pacific Crest Trail way up top. The cable car and High Camp station grew further away to my left as I climbed until it was out of sight behind the hills. I was completely alone on that little-used single-track trail. With thoughts of mountain lions and bears, my senses were heightened. I heard that distant deep groaning sound again which I recall hearing when I was last alone on the trails around these parts. The hairs on the back of my neck rose. I have no idea what makes the sound but I always imagine mountain lion (cougar).
Leaving Squaw Valley.
 Last glimpse of High Camp (top left).
Squaw Valley down below. The 'cloud' on the horizon is forest fire smoke.
I met the first hiker at the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. He had come from Tinker Knob to the right. I was reassured that he was puffing and panting with the altitude as well. After a brief conversation he sat down for a refreshment stop while I turned left towards Granite Chief. My refreshment stop would wait until Emigrant Pass.
Now on the PCT I met several hikers, all striding purposefully with walking poles, wearing big rucksacks and coming in the opposite direction. One of them ('Marathon John' Patterson, pictured right) stopped for a long chat. It was then that I learned all these hikers to be thru-hikers doing the PCT end-to-end from Mexico to Canada. I'm blown away by the very thought of something so big, something I would never consider taking on. We must have chatted for a good 20 minutes, he telling me about thru-hiking and how much weight he'd lost already, and me telling him about Western States (he'd noticed my buckle and T-shirt). Now suitably informed I was able to interact appropriately with the next hikers who passed. One of them said: "Only ten days to halfway". Wow!
At the cross-paths with Tevis Trail with Granite Chief mountain rising to the right, I turned left back up the Western States 100 route to Emigrant Pass. At the top were panoramic views of High Camp down below with Lake Tahoe in the distance and fire smoke billowing up from behind the mountains beyond. (There always seems to be a forest fire somewhere when I'm here.)

Fire beyond Lake Tahoe.
After lunch at the top and a slippery, dusty descent to High Camp I was happy to take the cable car down to the valley bottom before walking back up to the guesthouse. That little jaunt took more out of me than is decent. I hope I'm more acclimatised to the altitude come race day.
Cable car down to Squaw Valley.
All the pictures I took are here.

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