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PCT Day 97 – Unplanned Vacation in South Lake Tahoe

Last updated Apr 7, 2021 | Published on Jul 30, 2017

I ate breakfast again this morning at Jax Truckee Diner before checking out of the hostel. I decided to travel to South Lake Tahoe while I healed and waited for the medication to begin its magic. Little did I know that this would turn into an unplanned vacation in South Lake Tahoe.

Several groups of friends were planning to hike through South Lake Tahoe over the next few days so it seemed as good a place as any to hang out. The other alternative was to fly home and recuperate there, but I wanted to avoid the hassle and expense of flying home if possible. One of my main motivations of going home would be to see Daniel, but he is out of the country on vacation right now so I would just be there by myself. Also I wanted to stay near the trail community and soak up the hiker energy to keep me inspired until I can continue hiking.

So this is how I found myself on a totally unplanned vacation in South Lake Tahoe for five days this summer. Or at least, this is how it tried to look at it. I didn’t want to be there at all. I WANT TO HIKE! But I’m trying to listen to my body and let it do its thing. And there are worse places in the world to be stuck on an unplanned vacation.

My First Views of Lake Tahoe

Mass Hole and I split the cost of an Uber ride to South Lake Tahoe and got a nice view of the lake as we travelled around its west side. I’ve been to Lake Tahoe once before but it’s been a long time and I had forgotten how absolutely massive it is. Visibility was low today due to smoke from some nearby forest fires that formed a haze across the water.

Mass Hole Checks into Harvey’s Casino

I checked into the Mellow Mountain Hostel which would end up being my base of operations for the next week. The hostel is an old motel with most rooms converted into a dorm with four bunks and an en suite bathroom. The lodging includes a common kitchen area with foosball and ping pong tables, a computer room, and a chill space out front with hammocks and picnic tables. It is located a couple of blocks away from the Nevada border with several enormous casinos positioned just on the other side of the state line.

Dorm Room at Mellow Mountain Hostel

The hostel offers a discount to PCT hikers and lots of hikers were in residence – most were northbounders who had just come through the Sierras but there were several southbounders there too. I met OneDay and TrailName (Dan) in the computer room which was a happy surprise. I met OneDay just south of Idyllwild as she was hiking with Sunkist (you can read about it in this blog post). I’ve since hiked a lot with Sunkist but haven’t seen OneDay in a couple of months. I didn’t even recognize TrailName as he had grown a beard and lost a lot of weight. I hiked with him for a couple of days just after I hiked through Wrightwood (you can read about it in this blog post).

Dan (Trail Name) Lounges at Mellow Mountain Hostel

I walked over to Harrah’s Casino for dinner where I had made plans to meet Sunkist, Halfway and Dr. Pain for dinner at the Buffet. The restaurant is located on the 18th floor of the hotel and is hands-down the fanciest buffet I’ve ever seen. Hikers are notorious for their ability to put away large quantities of food and love to eat at all-you-can-eat restaurants. Sadly, my appetite isn’t as big these days, but I did have a great time catching up with my friends.

Dessert Buffet? Yes Please!

Sunkist and Halfway hiked northbound through the Sierras together and had arrived in South Lake Tahoe yesterday. I almost didn’t recognize Halfway as he had lost a lot of weight and shaved off his beard. They were tired but in good spirits and planned to continue hiking northbound tomorrow. Although, after a couple of glasses of wine, they decided to stay an another night and take an additional recovery day. Dr. Pain had also hiked northbound through the Sierras but was experiencing some knee pain and had to get off the trail for a while after Sonora Pass.

Dr Pain, Halfway, Sunkist and me at Harrah’s Buffet

All three of them talked at length about their experiences in the Sierras. They had all heard that the trail would be easier north of Northern Kennedy Meadows but they reported that it was the hardest stretch of trail in the entire Sierras. Halfway fell on Sonora Pass and slid 200 feet down a snow slope before he finally stopped on some rocks. He was pretty scratched up but didn’t experience any significant injuries. Apparently several other hikers fell in the same area. Hiking the snowbound Sierras sounded like an amazing experience but also incredibly grueling and intense. I’m glad I chose to save the Sierras for another time.

If you’d like to read about Sunkist and Halfway’s journey in the Sierras and their current adventures, you can follow along here : Sunkist’s Blog.

PCT 2017 Stats

PCT Day 97
Wednesday July 19

No miles hiked today

For more on my experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, visit my Pacific Crest Trail 2017 page:


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Hi, I'm Unicorn!

I am an avid hiker, traveler, and adventurer who is on the mission to explore hiking trails around the world.  I’m also obsessed with National Parks, long-distance trails and other outdoorsy things.

I hope to share this knowledge with you and inspire you to explore new hiking trails too!


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