The last 10 days have been packed to the brim with all sorts of people, places and things. We left South Lake Tahoe supremely happy after our visit with AT friends Pixel and Shazam, and enjoyed a gorgeous hike around Echo and Aloha Lakes. The PCT overlaps with the Tahoe Rim Trail for some miles outside of South Lake, and most days we had stunning ridge walks with views of the enormous lake below. We are continually surprised by how, even as the landscape changes, it is always beautiful.

Summer is here, and we pushed through some really hot days in this last stretch. We also got a huge storm, and watched the lightning strike a few ridges over as we ate dinner one night. Then we burrowed into our tent as it moved our way, and the sky lit up around us.

But through all the miles, our main focus on this leg of the journey was our rendezvous with family. We are just shy of the halfway point of the PCT, but we were very ready for a halftime break. We met my mom and grandma near mile 1,211 and were gratefully whisked away for a while. We’ve spent the last five days resting, eating, sunbathing and spending time with family.

A storm brewing over the Sierra Buttes.

Given that our hike through the Sierras came to a close this last week (as we hiked through Donner Pass), it seems fitting that we are exactly where we are at the moment, sharing time with family in a special place.

Donner Pass, the end of the Sierras.

A bit of backstory: My mom grew up in California, and as a young girl, her parents would lead her and her three brothers on trips into the Sierras. They would set up a base camp and stay for 10 days at a time when the kids were as young as four. I grew up on stories of trips to Lake Spotty and each summer’s adventures. I wanted to hear them over and over.

Before hiking the PCT, my experience backpacking in California was always paired with family. I feel honored and humbled to have hiked the Sierra range now, like I’ve followed in the family spirit of adventure and relishing in the great outdoors. And on the particularly hard days, when I was feeling low or beat, I could always conjure up some extra courage and strength by thinking of my Gaga and Popoo, Uncles Dan, Tim and Jamie, and my mama Andie out on the trail. 

 We’ve spent our halftime break at the house that my grandfather designed and built in the Sierra National Forest, a place he loved so much. It’s long been my favorite house in the world, and being here always feels like coming home. This week, my family was together, and every moment felt like a treat.


Heading back to the trail is hard after such a wonderful time with family (and creature comforts), but I feel like I’m following in the best footsteps. It may take a few days to readjust, but the trail has a way of making you feel like you’re right where you need to be.

Lara (“Veggie”)

P.S. – It is with some sadness that we announce that our trusty tent won’t be sheltering us for the remainder of our trip. “Tenty” endured the whole AT and half of the PCT. It has been our trail home, but alas, it must be sent away for much-needed repairs. Now, we’ve added a new tent to the family. We did a test run indoors with my three-year-old niece, and it passed!