With the town of Truckee only 8.9 miles away, Quoi and I had the luxury of not having to get up terribly early, and we started hiking around 6:50.
We started off with a steep hike up along the side of Tinker Knob, a sheer rock formation. It was the only significant climb of the day.
It was somewhat windy today, and the winds picked up after Tinker Knob, especially when the trail went over a narrow section of the ridge.
While going over some snow covering the trail (instead of taking a rock scramble around the snow), I slipped and wound up accidentally glissading down the snow, off the edge of the snow, and then sliding a foot or two more on dirt, making my pants pretty muddy. Quoi managed to not slip and just walked down. I mused that it would be funny if that were the last snow on the trail, and I glissaded down it and she didn’t.
On the last bit of downhill towards the road, the trail passed through a series of switchbacks, and as we were going down, a fair number of day hikers were coming up. Several of them had dogs, that weren’t on leashes. One of them ran up the trail and startled Quoi and I, before running back to its owner.
Around 10:30, we made it to the infamous Donner Pass, on Historic Route 40. The pass is named after the ill-fated Donner Party, which got stuck in a significant snowstorm and (possibly) resorted to cannibalism.
It too took us a while to get a hitch to Truckee — almost half an hour — but the driver was only able to fit one of us in his car. Quoi insisted I go with him, and she get the next hitch, so at least one of us could start resupplying sooner. (Also, she would likely have an easier time hitching than I would.) My driver was Aaron, who has done a lot of trail maintenance, on the PCT as well as in Alaska.
In Truckee, my first stop was Tahoe Mountain Sports, where I picked up an extra fuel canister, and new tips for my trekking poles. (Unlike the REI poles I used to have, my Leki poles have replaceable tips.) The clerk was even kind enough to replace them in the store (which requires boiling the tips to loosen their grip, and then pulling them off with pliers.)
While I was waiting for the clerk to take care of another customer before putting the new pole tips on, Quoi arrived. She found that the one thing she really needed, water purification drops, were not what the store carried. She was looking for a two-part drop mixture, but they only had tablets available. The drops and tablets both perform the same function, but, Quoi wanted what she was familiar with, and not something different. She had called the store earlier to confirm what they had, and they told her they had the drops, apparently not understanding there was a difference.
We walked across the street to Panda Express for lunch, and then to Safeway to buy food for the next leg of our hike, five days to Quincy, with a brief stop in Sierra City. We repackaged our food at Starbucks.
Still needing water purification drops, Quoi went to three more stores nearby in the hope they’d have what she wanted, only to have no success: they had purification tablets, not drops. Frustrated, she returned to Starbucks, and called an outfitter in Quincy to see if they had what she wanted; after having to repeat what she needed several dozen times, they confirmed that they didn’t. She then tried to order the drops from Amazon, but couldn’t make the shipping timing work out. I had to order the drops from my Amazon account, taking advantage of Amazon Prime and “free” two-day shipping to get the drops to Quincy on time. (I tried to take the opportunity to order more Propel electrolyte packets, since I am going to run out in a few days, and almost nowhere carries them, but they weren’t even going to be in stock until after we left Quincy!)
Done with our town chores, it took us about 20 minutes to get a ride back to the trailhead, with one false-start: a guy with the license place “DNR PTY” pulled over to give us a ride, but then realized he had his bike in the back seat and wouldn’t be able to fit us.
We got a ride from a guy named Dave, who had previously hitchhiked across the US. Dave dropped us off at the Donner Ski Ranch, a short distance from the trailhead, where we got dinner. The restaurant there gives PCT hikers a free beer. That beer being a 42-oz bottle of the 8.1% ABV Steel Reserve. I only drank one glass worth; the rest of the bottle, I gave to another hiker (who had already finished his!).
After dinner, we returned to the trail, but we didn’t go any great distance. Tired and a little bit hung-over, we stopped only half a mile from Donner Pass, at the first viable campsite. It was barely large enough for both of our tents.
From the campsite, we had a great view of Donner Lake, and were able to watch the moon rise. (It moves a lot faster than you’d think it does.)