There’s no better motivation killer than waking up to a wet tent. I don’t know how it happened but everything was soaked, even the ground around the tent. Annoyed with the situation we slowly packed trying to dry the tent and sleeping bag in the early morning sun, but it was no use. We packed everything and headed on our way putting it all behind us as we climbed the first of two big hills of the day. By and large it was snow free and we reached the top with ease.
As we stood at the summit gazing down the snowy slopes we’d now have to navigate, we saw people skiing down the last of the open runs in the area. They swarmed the slope below like ants on a mound and we marvelled at how unaware they were to us poor hikers above. Sugar Glider and Chatter met us there and as a group we skied our own way down to the valley bottom. It didn’t take long for us to be at the base of our next climb, Tinker Knob.
We were on a roll, marching our way up the switchbacks that took us through fields of Mule Ear shrub, pine forest and granite scree. At its summit we took in the views around us while eating lunch filled with an elation of endorphins from the effort. Now the trail trundled along the ridge line once again painted in colour by flowers and scented by pollen. Either side were rolling hills of dark green forest cut through by highways and lakes.
It was a steady descent, at the bottom of which lay Donner Pass, the ski ranch and tomorrow’s way into Truckee for resupply. We reached the toad around 4pm and made haste to the Donner Ski Ranch. A free 42oz malt liquor was provided (that’s a f***ing big beer) and burgers, hot wings and pie followed. We sat enjoying live music and chats with locals all evening before pulling ourselves back to the trail to find camp among the trees.