Finally! We reach the Rubicon near midnight, ready to pass out. Unfortunately, we did not count on having to scramble on foot a couple hundred feet down sketchy, exposed cliffs to actually get access to the water! I’m sure there is an easier way, but we are too tired to search around for it in the dark. After our acrobatic water endeavor, we quickly set up camp and pass out in the warm night, alarms set for 4am.
Day 35am alarm wakes us up, and we blearily head out towards Mt. Rose. Jack is strong, moving well – I struggle a bit and he disappears up the road. 2,000 feet up the highway later, with a bit of rain, we are back on the TRT. I’ve done this segment before and am looking forward to it – fast, flowy goodness. Thanks to the rain, the dirt is absolutely perfect. Despite the great trail and conditions, I am a bit grumpy. My knee is hurting, and out of nowhere I get launched off my bike and front flip upside down into a bush. Get it together man! Soon, we come across hoards of runners – turns out the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 is going on, and we make our way through the back of the field. These runners have been moving for 30 hours straight, 85 miles in – so interesting to see their conditions. Some are chippy and fresh, and some are straight up zombies, struggling with every step. Jack is especially excited, as he’s an ultrarunner himself. We refill water at Spooner Lake, watching the TRT100 finish – such a cool, supportive community, huge turnout and cheering for the runners as they cross the finish line. If only bikepacking had the same level of participation and support……
The TRT over to Heavenly is an absolute blast – huge lake views and a techy but fast descent. Jack stops to fix his seatpost and I push ahead, eager to get to the market and get some food. Some ominous looking thunderclouds have been forming overhead, and a couple miles out from Kingsbury, it starts raining. Not too heavy at first, and I make it to the market still fairly dry. I spot a restaurant next to the market and duck inside, just as the sky opens up and starts DUMPING rain. Huge lightning and thunder all around. Wow, I made it just in time, but Jack is still out there! I hope he finds shelter! I sit down and order a huge BBQ bacon cheeseburger, and check out the weather forecast on my phone. Not good, heavy rain forecasted basically until midnight. Crap. We are about to head up to 9,600 feet, the high point of the route – not where you want to be during a thunderstorm!
Finally Jack come stumbling in, soaked head to toe. He got caught out in the storm, and had to take shelter under a staircase from the lightning. We sit and eat and chill, unsure of what to do – the rain has let up a bit, do we head back out? Do we wait and see if it gets better? Neither of us is particularly excited about a cold, wet night in the rain, so we decide to wait a bit. Suddenly the power goes out – not just for the restaurant, but for all of South Lake, the casinos, everything – and the restaurant is mobbed by people, as they have a generator and are still serving food. We just want to nap, but there is nowhere to lie down. Finally, around7:30pm, we order some coffee and sandwiches to go, and head back out into the soggy twilight.
Star Lake is the goal. Only 9 miles, but some tough climbing – I estimate 3 hours. The night is actually pretty warm, and the rain stops. We are entranced by the lights of the Carson Valley below as we traverse through Heavenly Ski Resort. It is a beautiful night, and we make quick time to the lake.
We find a perfect bivy site right next to the lake and quickly set up camp under the stars. We are so thankful for being here, for having the good fortune to be doing this – it is truly something special. Another early wakeup awaits, and sleep comes quickly.