Today I had two goals: Enjoy the last day in the Sierras and visit an all you can eat buffet in South Lake Tahoe. I told myself to not just rush it and miss the nature to get to town, so I got up a bit early and also noticed a two mile discrepancy between my guide book and my phone app, so that added further time. Despite this, I think the Sierras did finally just peter out. While the scenery was mostly descent, it was a minor version of what the previous three days had shown. But it was easy going. I didn’t feel fatigued at all, and had I not had a lunch break, then I would have been done before noon.
Nearing the end of the stretch, the trail suddenly got gradually fainter, so I of course checked my GPS app which showed that I was approximately 100 feet off, and I thought that I had missed a turn and started walking back, but soon meet three other hikers who each individually had come this way as well, which I thought made that less likely, so we all abandoned the idea of backtracking to find where we missed a turn and just try to find some kind of way through, which we did in a semi-bushwhacking manner on a pathway that seemed to be parallel to the GPS track. Six hundred feet later or so that brought us back to the actual trail. So we had in fact all missed a turn and come onto an initially surprisingly well trotted track. One of the other hikers, the one who some days earlier had found my Sawyer Squeeze bottle, asked me if I was from Denmark. He said that he could tell from the accent because he had had a Danish girlfriend once. Spot on man! I think I have had four guesses based on my accent for Germany and one for Israel.
A short time later we got to highway 50, where I intended to hitch from. Most people would go slightly further, but I had read in the GPS app that this was actually better because the road had a broad shoulder. There were plenty of cars but they were going super fast. However, it only took about ten minutes to get a ride! I hadn’t actually seen the car pull over, but the driver shouted out and I looked back to see the car at the very end of the section with the broad shoulder. After moving things around to make room, I got in the back seats which I shared with their golden retriever. Turns out that it was Panda’s parents, the hiker that I met coming down from Whitney and crossed Forrester Pass with. They were going to meet him where a road crossed the trail where I was two days earlier and let him get rid of his bear canister. They seemed supportive and proud of their son, although the mom didn’t like the thought of him climbing all the mountains along the trail. I think we got off to a slightly bad start, in part because I was at the same time trying to find out where it made sense to get dropped off in South Lake Tahoe (they had generously offered to drop me off anywhere I wanted, but I didn’t have a clue as I only once and very briefly had had cellular service the last six days). I figured it would take some time to plan where I wanted to stay etc. so I got dropped off near the center. I thanked them very much for their help and told them to greet Panda from me.
Went into a McDonald’s sat down and got things sorted out, as there was a postal situation that I had to figure out as well. Turns out that most hotels were in the north east part of the town, so I took a bus up there, which was over half an hour late. Checked into a hotel and had a much needed shower.
For dinner I went to something called the Forest Buffet, which according to the internet was the bee’s knees of all you can eat buffets. South Lake Tahoe is actually in both California and Nevada. The latter allows gambling, so right east of the state line tall casino buildings dominated. The buffet was at the eighteenth floor of one of such buildings, so I went in there somewhat fearing that I would get thrown out for not following the dress code, not that shorts were not allowed, but my clothes are pretty worn out. That fortunately didn’t happened. I walked across the ground floor which was filled with card players, and people playing on various machines. It reminded menoff Las Vegas, well, because that is kind of the only place where I had been to a US casino. I liked the neon colored fluorescent light aesthetic, but also found it slightly intimidating. Went to the eighteenth floor and after some time was seated at the restaurant. I ate a lot. Too much in fact, so it will probably be a while before I go to a buffet again. The best part was actually the salad bar as the cooked food was slightly inferior to what you would get in a traditional restaurant. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. The views from there over the lake were nice, though.
That was it for today. I accomplished my goals.