Tenting at Squaw Creek (PCT mi 1142.9), walked 22.3 miles today
Had one of the best night's sleeps on the whole trail in the ski hut and blazed right through my alarms, woke up at 7:30 and was gone by 8:15. Was surprised to see 6 people still passed out in their sleeping bags next to the lake, but later I learned they were up til 2 a.m. whoopin it up and catchin crawdads, hot damn! Dirtbag's new trail name is apparently Crawdaddy because he bagged "like, 30 of them." The morning was a very easy climb to Barker Pass, where there was a vanload of Tahoe Rim Trail hikers who gave me some food, including a protein bar that might as well have said "All new POOP flavor!" on the front. There was also a cooler with 1 PBR and one bottle of aloe vera juice, which is a new concept to me. My esophagus wasn't sunburned or anything, but I took the juice. It had chunks of something floating in it. It tasted okay I guess.
Shortly after the pass, ran into 2 thru-hikers, Luna and Werewolf, who have just picked up a dog from their parents and are trying to take him to Canada, but he's not really cooperating. He seemed to want to run off trail a lot and then sit in the shade and refuse to move. Got caught without much water over an 8-mile stretch in the mid-afternoon because I was distracted by the dog and not paying attention to where the trail was about to go, high along a ridge. Tried to appreciate the views of Lake Tahoe from said ridge anyway ... There was what looked like a new wildfire burning on the east side of it (see picture). Later the air around us got kind of smoky, presumably from that.
Took a 1.5-hour break after I finally staggered up to a water source, Simon the British guy was there for most of that time with me. Took care of the final 5 miles alone with music in ... I listen to music while hiking rarely enough that it always really pumps me up and I want to sing along, but I can't because what if I walked right up on someone's snack break yelling, "R.O.C., we runnin this rap shit!" to myself? I'm honestly more afraid of that than of someone walking in on me pooping. When I got to this site it was only 7 and I could've kept walking, but I'm liking this whole sustainable-pace thing. Noticed that the pattern in my mileage lately has been to race race race, a bunch of 25-mile or more days, and then flame out in town with a zero and/or a huge nearo. I feel 100% each morning if I keep the previous day's mileage at or just under 25. Tomorrow there will be a long midday break at the Soda Springs store but I ought to still have total mileage around 15-20, which is close enough to the 21 per day that I figure I have to average to get to Canada by Sept. 20, which would be ideal. Camped nearby are Sexy Legs, Johnny Reb, Jug and Chozen One, as well as a LASHer (long-ass section hike) couple named Lodgepole and Wuzzy. The first four are doing more experiments with campfire cooking, which is ironic because fires will soon be explicitly banned everywhere we hike, if they're not already now (signage has been unclear).