Tahoe Rim Trail – a 2018 thru-hike:
Smoke lends its mystery to the map
Playing peek-a-boo with peaks and pines
I breathe in burning Yosemite
Tonight I sleep at 9,000 feet.
I follow the shadow of Freel Peak
Bikers push their load up, up, up, up
I rollercoaster to Big Meadow
Humid. Heat. Hail. Hurry to Round Lake.
Meandering meadows, morning dew
Mountain lion, marmots, golden bear
I plummet down the granite goat path
Toes scraping, bones aching — I feel it.
Echo, Aloha, Heather, Susie–
The lakes sing like sirens as I pass
I submerge to escape the sharp sun
Hour after dark, the ground is still hot.
Who ascends faster — me or the sun?
Aglow on Dick’s Pass I surrender
I leave behind crowds and wilderness
Too many miles to Richardson Lake.
Sweat constellations become rivers
Granite Chief Wilderness demands it
I sit almost naked in Ward Creek
Being chilled never felt so damn good.
“The climb out of town isn’t so bad.”
That’s what they said to me, but they lied
No water — exposed rock — not a drop
What am I doing here?! I wonder.
I drink strawberry-flavored pond scum
Angels left pure gallons at a road
I’m so happy I could cry — I gulp
Water makes all the difference in life.
Rest is just as important as drink
I climb into Nevada mountains
I descend to frigid, calm Gray Lake
I need to do nothing else at all.
Wind tries to shove me off Relay Peak
I’m over 10,000 feet tall here
But happiness and sunshine come soon —
Gray Ghost meets me at Tahoe Meadows.
Giant boulders wait like dragon eggs
Neon lichen drapes the pines in silk
Pale green mules ears carpet the brown ground
Who knew Nevada has such magic?
I trace my footsteps around the lake
My eyes remember each peak, each pass
Smoke is gone, replaced by nostalgia
How do I have only ten miles left?
A falling star welcomes my last day
As the miles go down, so does the path
What stops me from circling forever?
I wonder, then turn down the spur trail.