Day 70: mile 1146.6 – mile 1162.4

Elevation gain: 2,574 ft

Elevation loss: 2,942 ft

So many wacky, out of the ordinary things happened today it was crazy…three things that were NOT great all before 9am! First, Link woke up at 3am to the sound of a critter gnawing away at, what sounded like at first, our tent. He turned on his headlamp to see that the dude had been chomping on parts of his backpack, but not the tent, thank goodness. In the 68 prior PCT nights plus ALL of our other backpacking trips we have taken, we have never had any animal chew on our stuff. We always assure all food is out of our packs and never left in the tent for this main reason. I’m sure he was trying to get the salt off the pack, but why last night when those packs have been good and sweaty everyday?! Who the heck knows…but we weren’t going to have anymore of THAT! So Link strung up our 2 packs and hung them in the nearby tree…all of this in pitch black, mind you. Ingenious!

So there wasn’t a whole lot of sleeping by either of us after that, thinking every noise was this little bugger now trying to gnaw through the tent. We needed to get up at 6:15 so we could be sure we were walking by 7:30 in order to meet my in-laws for one last easy and awesome resupply. That’s when I noticed the rodent had been chewing on my pack straps too, and even made a hole in my back mesh part! RUDE!

THEN…Link was about to boil the water for our coffees when he couldn’t find the lighter. He always leaves it sitting on top of our little Jetboil stove in a sheltered spot when we go to bed. Then it’s ready to go the next morning…why would it all of a sudden be gone TODAY?? We both scoured the entire tent site (it’s not a big area!), looked through all of our stuff (it’s not much!)…what was going on? Did the rodent drag that away with him, is that even possible, is he the most talented and evil minded rodent EVER?? We were baffled and annoyed…did this mean no coffee today? ☹️ But THEN…it was only 6:45am and our tent site was literally in the middle of no where when High Stakes walked by. Seriously, the universe was messing with us and then solving the problem, all within 15 mins! What are the odds of anyone walking by at 6:45, plus someone who smokes and DEFINITELY has a lighter super handy? If this had happened any other day we wouldn’t have been able to cook dinner, but today we were seeing my in laws so it was a quick text asking them to bring us a new lighter, and they came to the rescue!

So after a pretty eventful morning already, we were hiking by 7:30…WITH coffee 😁 We did some more of that cool ridge walking that we did yesterday with great views on either side. We both decided that this leg from Echo Lake to Donner Pass is one of the prettiest and varied sections! We would definitely come back here again in the future.

You can see the trail all along the top of this ridge
Donner Ski Resort

A little before 9am we came across this super steep climb that we didn’t think we had.

As we started going up this sucker we noticed another trail that veered off to the right, but there was no trail signage. The PCT has been pretty clear with signage ever since the infamous “27 river crossing day” in the desert, so we kept going up. But then the GPS caught up and we realized the lower, not as steep, trail was the PCT…Erggg. This normally wouldn’t be a problem except for the large snow bank you can see in the upper picture. We now needed to cross it at a steeper part and it was already getting soft and slippery. Link tried to kick in some great footsteps but the last 7 feet were too steep and slippery…he slipped, landed on his booty and slid the final way down till he plopped in the mud below. He was ok, thank goodness, and I REALLY didn’t want a repeat performance of THAT. So I really dug in my poles and heels, taking it VERY slowly. I was almost to Link’s outstretched hand for me when I SLIPPED! My left foot took out Link’s legs and then we were both lying in the snow/mud. Ugh…at least we weren’t hurt and we made it back to the trail. Jeepers…3 wacky things before 9am! When we got to the bottom of the Pass, there was this sign…imagine how much harder it was for the people making this trail!

We made it to Donner Pass (a road) at 10am to meet my in-laws who, graciously, offered to bring us our next resupply box since the drive was just 75 mins long. Still a long trip and we appreciate all their love and support with EVERYTHING! While we were organizing our resupply in the parking lot, Mantis and Pants got dropped off and were about to start hiking again! Another wacky thing…what are the odds of them being dropped off during the small amount of time we were in the parking lot, and at THAT parking lot??We hadn’t seen them since before Mammoth so we tried to catch up quickly, but planned to camp around the same spot later today where we could continue to chat about everything that’s happened. SO RANDOM! My in laws, Link and I then ate an awesome lunch at Donner Ski Ranch where they give a free 40oz beer to every PCT hiker. Link took full advantage of that while I stuck to the chocolate shake, bacon cheeseburger and fries!

We both got new shoes and my new socks are WHITE! I wonder how long that will last 😂

We had to say goodbye to them one last time and were hiking again around 1:00. Soon after, we walked under HWY 80 which was shin deep in water just one week ago, but today, to our thrilled surprise, it was dry!

We then came across this super cool hiker hut that is maintained by the Sierra Club…man, is it nice! Super cute on the outside, room for many to sleep in the loft, electricity run by solar power, stove/pans inside, and a pit toilet just outside!

Sleeping loft could fit tons of hikers!
Pit toilet

We only had a couple miles left to the site we had our eyes on. We would be dry camping again, but we were fine with that since all the spots further were at lower elevation with “8,000 mosquitos”, as someone had posted just a week ago. No standing water usually equals less annoying bugs!

Even the trees are hungry 🤣

So we got to camp early, at 5, which is so nice to be able to get everything done without feeling rushed. Mantis/Pants, as well as Shortcut/Finesse, decided to go on a little further so I’m sure we will see them down the road. We are thrilled with very few mosquitoes at this moment and ready to see what “wacky” things the trail wants to throw at us tomorrow. Thanks for reading, guys! Double Down

Who knew that a hanging bear bag could make for a cool, artsy photo!