We started early and climbed the 6% grade that we’d descended the night before (but up the other side!) We were both tired, and it was cold because it was 530 in the morning, but we were determined to get to Kirkwood to refill our water and continue on to Woodfords, where we’d stealth camp and then refill before crossing into Nevada tomorrow. Already one state almost gone! But today would prove to be a day of changed plans and different adventures! We got to the top of the mountain to discover an avalanche! Well…at least an avalanche warning. And pedestrians were prohibited. That didn’t stop us from starting down the hill toward Kirkwood though.
About 300 feet down we realized this was a terrible idea, the guard rail was about to disappear to a small shoulder and still a steep drop off, and a couple of small rocks fell down the side of the hill, so Rebecca had a terrified moment and insisted we turn around. This time, Tim agreed it was too dangerous and we walked back up the hill to hitchhike for the first time in both of our lives (that we can remember). The first car passed us up with nary a glance and Rebecca cursed him under her breath, but the second car was the perfect person to hitch a ride with. As the jeep stopped, and we threw our bags into the back seat, the driver introduced himself as Chase, a young guy headed to his job in Tahoe from Jackson. He commutes an hour and a half in one direction every day (that’s three hours of commuting!!). Of anyone I know, he definitely has the most beautiful commute though. He was a great person to pick us up as he fully supported our journey (at least verbally) and didn’t seem at all bothered when Kirkwood was closed and we needed a ride farther down the road. Water is very important while walking and we didn’t want to risk not having enough. A couple miles past Kirkwood there was another avalanche warning with a “No Peds” posting, so we were lucky to still be in the car! Chase ended up giving us a ride to the split of highways 88 and 89 and a gallon of water to hold us over until we reached Woodfords (which was originally our planned end for the day).
Because we got a 16 mile ride, we made it to Woodfords by 930am with about 9 miles of walking. We missed the Carson Peak and the Pacific Crest Trail, but safety is a bigger concern so we couldn’t dwell too long on that.
As we walked into Woodfords we discussed possibly eating breakfast there as we figure out our plan for the day.
Tim spent about an hour (which was half of the walk after getting dropped off) discussing the kind of omelette he wanted to order when we finally made it. One of the things we’ve missed most on the trip is a regular supply of cheese, so he definitely was getting cheese on that!
Of course, when we got to Woodfords we realized our breakfast dreams were….let’s just say, too imaginative. There was one restaurant in town, and they only served sandwiches. As we walked into the restaurant/general store/lottery center a woman inquired to our purpose of the packs and we told her we were walking across the country. She bought a lotto ticket while we stared at the short, but tasty sounding, menu. On her way out she handed us a few bills and told us to buy ourselves sandwiches on her. As I said before, everyone we’ve met has been so friendly and supportive, whether it’s telling us we’re doing something exciting, giving us money, buying us food, or honking and cheering us on as they drive past.
We did take her up on the offer and bought two breakfast sandwiches with eggs, cheese, ham and tomato, and a side of chips and an orange! The woman behind the counter was friendly, and did not seem at all bothered by us sitting at the table with all of our (now smelly) stuff around us. When she told us there was WiFi I think she didn’t realize what she was committing to. We spent almost two hours there while she gave everyone more information on the lottery than I would ever know and occasionally spoke to us.
Even when a second person came in to work no one seemed bothered by us camped out using their WiFi to reconnect with the world and plan the rest of the day. Tim hadn’t had any service on his phone for almost 5 days and Rebecca hadn’t been catching up on everything she normally did in that time either to conserve battery, so we desperately clung to our connection with the outside (or inside?) world.
We decided that our best bet that day would be to push on for 14 more miles to Minden in Nevada! We weren’t planning to cross the border until the next day, but with some street view and satellite stalking we decided that stealth camping between Woodfords and the border would be way too difficult and after a long break 14 miles felt easily doable. We decided a bed would be enough reward for the last couple days camping (we’re kinda wimps, I guess) so we stepped outside, put on sunscreen, and started our last afternoon (it was 1130) in California.
Since our stay at Woodfords we have only looked back positively at the experience. But we had places to be, and that included a state line! Nevada was 6 miles after Woodfords and that was our first goal for the day. It was hot, and Rebecca started out inspired, but quickly started to limp from the heat blisters on the balls of her feet. She complains a lot, but at the beginning and end of every day, the walk is worth it. As we got close to the border a nice couple stopped to offer us a ride, as there was a storm slowly rolling in (apparently it was snowing in the mountains, so we narrowly escaped that!). Rebecca stepped into the road to talk to them and explain what we’re doing.
We saw an awesome bird that Tim spent a half an hour trying to get a good picture of.
And we weren’t worried about the storm at all (it seemed to be way behind us and trapped on the other side of the mountain anyway) when we could see the state line! California, we’ve conquered you!
But by the time we took our California pictures, the wind was picking up and the rain was threatening.
We put on our rain gear and pushed through the strongest wind we hope to experience on the trip for almost two hours! It never rained, but we did almost get knocked over a couple of times. Luckily we were on the side of the road things were blowing away from because a few people lost things out of trucks that could have hit us if we were walking with traffic!
At the end of the wind storm we resumed our normal pace of about 3 miles per hour and our normal activities of attracting cows.
Those cows waited at their gate for at least 30 minutes (that’s as long as we could see them for). We felt a little bad that we left them there, but there wasn’t much we could do.
After the wind and blister popping, we hobbled into Minden, stopped at a Dairy Queen for an ice cream reward, and made it to the Quality Inn Motel. Our first paid for bed, and it was glorious. We were dirty and needed showers and relaxation. We only had time to write one blog post though, we never have time for those things!
Today we walked through:
Rebecca: 56,238 steps
Tim: 53,351 steps
296 miles finished (plus 16 in a car, not included)