|Backpack||176.27 Miles||9 Days |
|28,326 ft AEG||27 LBS Pack|
||no linked trail guides|
|The Tahoe Rim Trail, or TRT, is a 173 mile trail that circumnavigates Lake Tahoe. The west side of the TRT shares 50 miles with the Pacific Crest Trail. Most people tend to hike it clockwise as that is considered the easier direction. That might have something to do with length of water carries and elevation gain, however at the end of the day, one goes up and down just as much either direction. I started my hike from the South Kingsbury trailhead and went counterclockwise.
The Start, September 3, 2016
2.3 trail miles plus half mile to trail from trailhead.
Yesterday I got on the road a bit past five. I-17 was closed due to a car and brush fire so traffic was bad for me until the Yarnell turnoff due to people rerouting for the holiday weekend. That slowed me down by about an hour or more. I made it to between Henderson and Pahrump where I camped for the night. I got to bed around midnight.
The drive took longer than I thought it would but I made it on the trail for a few miles after throwing everything in my pack. I ended up taking my ULA Circuit instead of my Ray-Way backpack. I chickened out with the amount of water I need to carry. It's heavy! I didn't weigh it, maybe I should have.
I pretty much drove straight through with few stops. Breakfast in Pahrump, lunch and gas in I don't remember where. I also checked out the tufa at Mono Lake.
Day 1, September 4, 2016
2.3 to 21.4 for 19.1 trail miles plus 1.5 miles for Spooner Lake.
I wasn't making good time today and only covered eight miles in the first four hours. I think I stopped to find too many geocaches. One may not take much time but they all add up.
Another thing that slowed me down was all the mountain bikers. There was a charity ride and there were maybe 200 cyclists out. I really didn't mind much. Most all were polite and conscientious to me. The only issue was the dust that all the bikes would kick up, especially when they were moving at a good clip on the downhills.
There's a bench along the trail on South Camp Peak that I stopped at to get a snack. There were several mountain bikers there that I talked to. I didn't stay as long as I would have liked because there were a lot of yellow jackets hanging out. It was also fairly windy and cool.
I was fairly tired by the time I reached the Spooner Summit trailhead. From there I crossed highway 50 and made my way to Spooner Lake where I filled up on water. I had to take my shoes and socks off and wade into the lake to get water. The water was pretty clear but had a bit of taste to it. I wasn't sure if I'd make it to the Marlette Lake campground, the next water source, so I filled up enough for a dry camp. While there, I cleaned my feet and had some food.
Shortly after I was back on the trail, above Spooner Lake, I met three backpackers resting where they had cached some water. We talked for a few minutes before I continued on up the trail.
I realized I wasn't going to make it all the way to the Marlette Lake campground so I stopped a bit earlier than I wanted to since it looked like there wouldn't be any places to camp further along the trail for several miles.
The trail is very dusty, especially because of all the mountain bikes. That makes for some very dirty feet and legs and socks and shoes. I don't remember my feet every getting so dirty on a trail.
Day 2, September 5, 2016
21.4 to 42.7 for 21.3 trail miles plus 1.3 miles to Sand Harbor overlook.
Late last night, three trail runners passed by my camp. I heard them first and then saw their lights. I don't think they noticed I was there; I didn't here them say anything about me or my camp. Then this morning when I was breaking camp, a woman backpacker walked by. I don't think she noticed me or my camp either. It always surprises me how often people walk by and don't notice me. I think I notice most people but then, if I didn't notice them, I wouldn't know. It's a quandary.
I was on the trail at half past seven. There were some great views of Lake Tahoe as I went below Snow Valley Peak towards Marlette Lake. The view of Marlette Lake is pretty spectacular too. Then there were great views to the east towards the valley where Carson City is.
I stopped for water and an early lunch at the Marlette Peak campground. There's a well with a hand pump to get the water. It took several pumps to get the water flowing and I couldn't wait too long between pumps to fill the next bottle. I didn't see anybody at the campground except for a couple of Mt. bikers that passed by. I took advantage of a picnic table and ate some lunch. Tables are nice to use when available.
I saw two other backpackers today. They were out for the weekend and were heading out at Spooner Summit. I saw them a bit past the Snow Valley Peak junction. I did see several people day hiking, especially between Marlette Peak and Tunnel Creek road. There was a fair number of cyclists out too, but nothing compared to the numbers I saw yesterday.
I heard the side trip to Sand Harbor Overlook was a must. I read about it before the hike and then the three backpackers I talked to above Spooner Summit yesterday mentioned it too. So when I reached Christopher's Loop, the trail to the overlook, I dropped my pack and headed up. Oh man, the view was incredible. It's the best view of Lake Tahoe I've seen so far and I bet it will be the best of the trip. It's truly spectacular!
From there the trail dropped to Tunnel Creek road. After crossing the road, mountain bikes are only allowed on even numbered days. Today is the fifth so no more bicycles today. There really was nobody from there until I neared Tahoe Meadows. The trail basically ascends a ridge to a ski area, then drops to Tahoe Meadows. As I was getting close to Tahoe Meadows, I was thinking how nice it had been to not have to worry about cyclists when one came up the trail. When he came by, I snidely asked, "You're not supposed to be here are you?" He commented about just going until there was no more up. I'm not sure how that made it okay for to be on the trail. Maybe he was just clueless. I don't know.
It was getting late in the day when I neared Tahoe Meadows. My left foot was getting a bit of a hot spot so I figured I better stop and see what was up. I took my shoes and socks off and wiped my feet off then got all the sand and dust off of my shoes and socks. Everything seemed fine, so I put them back on and continued hiking. No more problems.
Tahoe meadows is pretty nice and there was a good view of it when I crossed Ophir Creek. From there the trail crosses the meadow and then follows a highway to the Mt. Rose campground where I filled up on water. I left the campground with over four liters of water. I didn't need so much but I wasn't sure of the water situation coming up and I knew I'd be dry camping tonight.
From there, I went to the Mt. Rose Summit trailhead/rest stop and dumped my garbage and used TP. It's nice to be able to do that. The place I planned to camp was about a half mile uphill from there. I was running out of light and worried what the camping area would be like. Well I made it there fine and there was actually several nice places to camp. I was real happy with my campsite and had a nice view of the sunset over Lake Tahoe. There's also a nice view of city lights off to the east. I had phone service too, so I posted a picture and gave Barbara a call. It was a great way to end the day.
Day 3, September 6, 2016
42.7 to 60.9 for 18.2 trail miles.
I woke after six and didn't stir until 6:45. I was about to go at 8 and noticed there was a geocache about 100' from camp so I went and found it. I was finally on trail at 8:10.
After about two miles, I reached Galena Falls. It's a nice cascade and the trail switchbacked up next to it.
The big thing today was climbing up Relay Peak, high point of the TRT. It's 10,335' tall. I found two geocaches there, one a bit before the summit and one at the summit, then took a break. The views were great and I took a 360° panorama video I posted on Instagram.
I met a woman, Megan, who is thru-hiking the TRT too. She started at South Kingsbury like I did but she's going clockwise. Each of us knew the other would be on the trail from the TRT Thru Hiker Facebook group. A bit later I met another thru-hiker named Kale. He also started at South Kingsbury. Kale hiked the PCT in 2014 and hiked an 1100 mile section of it this year.
There're a lot of hornets out. I stopped to get a drink and one landed on the edge of my shorts and when I moved it stung me. Then later I was holding my camera up taking a video and when I lowered my arms, I got stung.
Shortly after that, I stopped at a spring to get water for the rest of the day. The next water source is around 17 miles farther so I filled up, especially since I would be dry camping again tonight. There were a lot of yellow jackets near the spring so I was a bit on edge after getting stung not long before but they didn't bother me here.
So far I haven't bothered to use sunscreen but I should have today. Today the trail was much more exposed and the left side of my neck ended up getting sun burnt.
I stopped to get a drink and noticed there was a geocache less than 100' away. It was placed for the Placer County high point. I found the cache and ended up with a county high point too.
My plan is to stop about five miles before Tahoe City tomorrow, then the next day, I'll get to Tahoe City in the morning and resupply, then get back on the trail in the afternoon. That made today fairly easy, even with Relay Peak. It should make for another easy day tomorrow too.
When I started setting up camp, the mosquitoes came out. I set up my tarp and net-tent, no cowboy camping tonight. I also zipped on my pant legs and wore my wind jacket and hood to keep the bugs at bay while I had dinner.
Day 4, September 7, 2016
60.9 to 82.8 for 21.9 trail miles plus .4 miles into town to the hotel.
The bugs were gone when I got up this morning so I didn't have to deal with them when I broke camp. It took me close to an hour and a half to get going. I don't know where the time goes.
I found a geocache just up the trail from where I camped. I was looking on the GPSr to see where the next one was when another hiker approached. He was hoping to finish his TRT thru at Tahoe Meadows today.
After that I got to thinking that maybe, if I really hoofed it, I could make it to the Tahoe City post office before it closed at 4:30 and get my resupply. It seemed possible but difficult. I took the challenge. So much for an easy day and hiking into town tomorrow morning...
Today was actually a good day to make miles. The terrain wasn't that difficult and the trail mostly was in the forest so there wasn't many views to distract me. I tried to keep my pace up and keep my breaks short and few.
There was only two water sources today and they were only .8 miles apart. The first was a small stream that crossed the trail. I got water there because I figured it was better than lake water at the second. It was quicker too.
Just before I got water, a couple thru-hiking the TRT came by. They were packed light and were both wearing Luna Sandals. They were also hoping to finish up today at Tahoe Meadows. If they make it that would be a long day.
I was making good time but my left foot felt like a hot spot was developing so I stopped to shake out the sand and grit that fills shoes and socks on this dusty trail. The yellow jackets were all over. They are everywhere and there's no getting away from them. When I was done, I had to grab my pack and move with it to get them away before putting it on. It was the same throughout the day.
That slowed me down so it was going to be very tight making it to the post office on time. I was able to keep my pace up for several miles farther but I was fading and my foot was giving me concern again and a geocache was coming up so I decided to find the cache and shake out my shoes and socks again. I ended up having to change the batteries in my GPSr too. By then it was half past three and I had a bit more than three miles left. Game over. It was a fun attempt at any rate.
From there, I slowed my pace down and cruised into Tahoe City. I was tired, hungry, and finished my water as I entered Tahoe City.
I went to a hotel I had contacted on my way into town and checked in. Next I went to Rosie's, a restaurant recommended by the hotel receptionist. I had a bacon chile cheeseburger, fries, and a beer. They really hit the spot. After dinner I went back to my room and got cleaned up and hand washed my clothes in the sink. Then I just relaxed for the rest of the evening and called my wife. What a day!
Day 5, September 8, 2016
82.8 to 97.9 for 15.1 trail miles. Plus resupply and doctor, .4 miles to get on trail, and .5 miles for Twin Peaks.
During the night, I decided to go to urgent care to make sure my arm isn't infected from the sting. I noticed after showering that it was red and hot from my armpit to my elbow.
Urgent care opened at nine and the post office opened at eight so I went and got my resupply first and got it organized, then went to urgent care. The prognosis was that there is no infection just a reaction to the sting. So I went across the street to CVS and bought some Claritin to help. I also went back to the post office to get my tent pegs. They arrived earlier but hadn't been sorted yet.
I was a bit late checking out of the room but that wasn't a problem. It was about 11:30 when I left Tahoe City.
Most of the day's hike was in the forest, so there wasn't much scenery. Three TRTers were heading into town for food. They said a fourth was farther back having gone on his own nursing foot issues. I saw him a bit before the Ward Creek bridge. He said water wasn't reliable so when I reached Ward Creek, I filled up. That was a mistake.
When I was done getting water, a large group of older hikers passed by. One said a tour bus dropped them off up the hill. One man gave me a smile and winked at me. What was that about? It was kind of creepy.
There was a 1600' climb from there to Twin Peaks and I had all that water. Ugh. Finally the trail would break out of the forest and there were some great views.
When I reached the junction to Twin Peaks, I dropped my pack and headed up. The last bit was a steep scramble to the top. There was a geocache and a benchmark up there too so that was a bonus. The views from the top were amazing, I could see forever in every direction. I could see where I was heading into the Desolation Wilderness.
A bit past Twin Peaks, the TRT joins the PCT for 50 miles. I more or less lost it when I reached the junction. I dream of hiking all of the PCT one day and actually stepping on it overwhelmed me. As far as I know, I've never been on it before. Perhaps when I was a scout in the seventies, when in Washington it was known as the Cascade Crest Trail.
I was going to camp near there but it was early enough to hike farther, to get some miles on the PCT! The trail plunged down and I came across a few grouse. I passed a few streams and finally found a nice place to camp.
Day 6, September 9, 2016
97.9 to 117.3 for 19.4 trail miles. Plus a few geocaches.
I slept pretty good last night but still felt really tired this morning; it was hard to get up. I was on the trail at half past seven.
Not long after I started, I went to find a geocache up on a rocky peak. I dropped my pack and went around a rock and there was a set of trekking poles. A bit farther around and there was a woman who had camped on the rock. I should have announced myself when I first saw the poles but didn't think of that. We talked for a minute and then I continued to the top and found the geocache.
I found another geocache near the Barker Pass trailhead. There was a whole bunch in the area but I skipped them.
When I reached Richardson Lake, I stopped for lunch and got some water. I also took my shoes off and washed my feet. That felt great. It was nice to relax for a bit. I noticed two other backpackers a bit farther down the lake but never talked to them. They left just before I did and were heading where I had come from.
Shortly after lunch, I found another geocache that wasn't far off the trail. There was a metal pole about 8' high near it with what looked like an antenna at the top. There was another similar pole near the trail too. I'm curious what they are for; I should have taken a picture of one.
I was pretty excited to enter the Desolation Wilderness. It's supposed to contain some of the best scenery along the trail and is a very popular area. I imagine I'll see more people out today and tomorrow because of it.
I talked to couple going other way. I told them I am doing the TRT and that I was heading to Dicks Lake. As they were leaving, the gal suggested Lake Fontanillis. She said it was near Dicks Lake and was very nice.
I was about to catch up to another couple but needed a drink so I stopped to do filter some water from one bottle to the one I drink out of before I passed them. It didn't take very long to catch back up to them after that. I talked to the man for a minute then continued on.
It seemed to take forever to get to Middle Velma Lake. It was hot and the climb was tiring. Finally I made it. There were lots of people camped around it. I stopped and took a short break before continuing up to Lake Fontanillis. On the way some people that had been doing trail work were heading out. The first one asked where I was sleeping tonight. I said I planned to stop at Dicks Lake. It's nice to know that people like to help maintain the trails.
I really enjoyed walking past Lake Fontanillis. It was very nice, like the one gal said, but the trail was rocky and slow going. I was about out of water so I filled a liter up when the trail crossed the lake's outflow. There were lots of people camped along Fontanillis too. I passed one camp where a very big dog barked at me. I'm glad it was tied up.
Between Lake Fontanillis and Dicks Lake, I ran into another couple with a dog. We talked for a few minutes and the dog promptly lied down. I commented how it was ready to call it a day. They had been out for several days but hadn't gone real far. They do short days with a lot of relaxing.
I made it to Dicks Lake and wandered around a bit looking for a campsite. There's a nice campsite right off the trail but there were a couple men already camped there. They said rumor had it that the best sites were to my left so I went there and didn't find anything so I went back and went to the right and found a nice one. I guess the rumor was wrong.
I went to the lake and got water then went back to my camp and noticed an even nicer spot a short distance away, so I moved there. Then I went back to the lake and washed up a bit before going back and setting up camp and getting dinner. I was able to get all that done before dark. It's nice to not dry camp for once this trip. It's also different to have so many people around.
Day 7, September 10, 2016
117.3 to 137.5 for 20.2 trail miles.
I was on the trail a bit before half past seven and started the climb up Dicks Pass. Near the top, while taking some pictures, I noticed another hiker behind me. At the pass, we introduced ourselves. The hiker's trail name is Solar Body and he is sobo hiking the PCT. He hiked the AT last year and intends to hike the CDT next year.
We ended up hiking together to the Echo Lake trailhead where he hitched into South Lake Tahoe for resupply. I was getting water when he got a ride so we didn't really get to say goodbye.
The trail was so much eye candy today as we really saw the beauty the Sierra has to offer. I think I only covered eight miles the first five hours on trail. We kept stopping to gawk and take pictures and video. I even went for a quick dip in Susie Lake.
After Aloha Lake, there was a long rocky and hot descent to Echo Lake. There were tons of people going up. Then we traversed the lake to where the marina is. I ran out of water just before we arrived but would have drank more if I had it.
The store at the Echo Lake marina closed last week so I wasn't able to get anything to eat like icecream. There were trash containers and an outhouse though so I was able to dump my trash and used TP before continuing on.
I met a man section hiking the PCT. I think he was heading to Donner Pass on this outing. I also stopped at Echo Summit to look for a geocache but wasn't able to find it. Echo Summit was used as a high altitude training center for the 1968 Olympics. Shortly after that, I met a couple finishing up their PCT thru-hike. They skipped ahead and are hiking where they skipped. I believe they'll finish at Donner Pass.
I wasn't sure if there would be water at a stream near where I planned to camp so I stopped earlier to get water for the night and the next morning. That made my pack a bit heavy on the climb up to my campsite. Along the way there was a couple practicing bouldering. They even had a couple of those pads in case you fall.
Today was long, mostly because Solar Body and I were moving slow this morning with all the lovely scenery. It was getting dark when I arrived at camp. Once at camp, I had cell service so besides dinner and the normal camp chores, I putzed around online for a bit and called my wife.
Only 35 miles left.
Day 8, September 11, 2016
137.5 to 158.6 for 21.1 trail miles.
I woke up to the sunrise peaking through the trees. It made for a nice picture and I posted it on Instagram.
There was another campsite a bit up the trail from where I camped. I almost camped there last night and I'm glad I didn't since there was a couple camped there when I went by.
After finishing the climb I ended on yesterday, the trail was forested and nice. There were streams regularly too. When I reached Showers Lake, there was a youth group packed up and getting ready to hike out.
I met two women on the trail. A mother and daughter. The mother was working on finishing up the PCT. She started a thru last year but life took her off the trail. This year she has been section hiking what she didn't do last year and now she's almost done.
Shortly after talking to the women, I reached where the TRT leaves the PCT. I really enjoyed hiking 50 miles of the PCT!
When I reached Round Lake, I stopped to find a geocache. There was a mountain biker there that asked if I was doing the 165. When one has hiked all of the TRT, one is a member of the 165 club, so I replied yes. He lamented how one can only ride about 100 miles of the TRT instead of all of it.
I stopped for a geocache at Big Meadow, then stopped for water at Big Meadow Creek at the other side of the meadow. A little after that I stopped for lunch, then not long after that I stopped to empty my trash and used TP at the Big Meadow trailhead. Needless to say with all the stops I wasn't making good time.
After the Big Meadow trailhead, there was a big climb. I stopped for water and had to fill up for a nine mile dry stretch that included the rest of the big climb. I had only covered 15 miles and it wasn't looking good for me making my planned 22.
Along the way up, when I was setting up to take some video, I met a backpacker going the other way. He was hiking a section of the TRT to see what it is like for a possible future thru-hike. He recently moved from Detroit to Sacramento. He asked how much my pack weighed. I said I think maybe thirty with the full load of water I had. He said his was fifty. Ugh.
I actually made pretty good time up the hill and found two geocaches along the way. It was getting windy and colder and was sunset when I stopped for the night. I found a place a bit lower from the trail and out of the wind to spend the night.
Day 9, September 12, 2016
158.6 to 173.0 for 14.4 trail miles.
I could hear the wind blow through the trees all night but I was fairly sheltered where I was camped. It was windy this morning and throughout the day too. I heard a weather system was moving in.
I started the day dropping down to Armstrong Pass. There was a couple coming up. They had a rough night with the wind but were in good spirits since they would be finishing up their TRT section hike today when they reach the Big Meadow trailhead.
From Armstrong Pass I had a long climb up to the Freel Peak trail junction. This was my big obstacle for the day. Early on the way up, I met a man with the TRT Association. He mentioned that the TRT Association Annual Thru Hike Program group was at Star Lake this morning so I would see them on the trail. It was a big group and we passed near the junction. Several of them had radios so they knew I was finishing up my thru today so I got some congratulations.
The sun was glittering off of Star Lake as I dropped down to it. I gathered a liter of water out the lake's outlet but ended up never using it. At least I did dump half of it a few miles before I finished. I did use all the other water I had before I finished though, so it wasn't so bad to carry it. There were a few other water sources though, so I could have waited.
While at Star Lake, I stopped to find a geocache. It was a bearing projection type of thing and I wasn't sure if the bearing was from true north or magnetic north. I guessed wrong but at least the two possibilities weren't that far apart.
I stopped to find a couple more geocaches. The first I also stopped for lunch. The next one I didn't find. I almost passed it by; I wish I did. From there, there were great views off to the west as I descended.
There was one pretty steep climb up a road in a ski area. Once at the top, I found another geocache with a great view, then continued. As I neared the trailhead junction, there was one more geocache just off the trail that I found. It was at a switchback with a bench. I sat at the bench for a couple of minutes enjoying the view knowing that I would complete the trail in just a few minutes time.
I got to celebrate completing the trail twice. First at the trail junction to the parking lot where my truck was. I had completed the TRT at that point, so that was exciting. Then, from there I had about a half mile to reach the trailhead where I got to celebrate finishing a second time, celebrate being off trail!