Mileage: miles (%)
Start/End: Tahoe Meadows/Reno
26 days, 18 hours and about 12 minutes, that’s how long it took me to hike the entire Tahoe Rim Trail. If you subtract the 10 days I spent hanging out in Tahoe city and South Lake, then it took me about 16 days. However you measure it, I hiked 165 miles, climbed 4 summits, 4 peaks, and 2 passes, and had one hell of a time. Now it’s time for some bonus miles: I’m hiking back to Reno. We’ll see how much of the Rim to Reno Trail is actually built so far, or how much bushwalking and GPS’ing I’ll need to do.
Mileage: 13 miles (108%)
Start/End: Marlette Peak Campground/Mt Rose Campground
Highlights: Sand Harbor overlook
Putting Sand Harbor in perspective
…In more ways than one. According to the TRTA’s map, I’ll have to cover 16.8 miles to make it back to my starting point and my next water source, Mt Rose, today. Of course that’s assuming the mileage is correct on their map because as is typical, my National Geographic map reads a little lower: 13.4 miles in this case. Still a very big day. It’s also assuming there really is no water before Tahoe Meadows. I’ll carry 4.5 liters, but my experience on this trail has shown there to be much more water than people seem to notice.
…I made it really close but when it came down to it I really just didn’t feel like hiking with a headlamp: I slogged the rest of the way up Tahoe Meadows and slept on a picnic table at the campground. There’s no flat camping on the other side of the highway anyway, so I’ll complete the final 1/4 mile tomorrow.
Mileage: 7.4 miles (99%)
Start/End: Spooner Summit/Marlette Peak Campground
Highlights: Sunset from Marlette Peak
Grueling climb out of Spooner Summit, second only to the climb out of Echo Summit.
I know another sunset pic but I'm hooked!
Mileage: 15 miles (95%)
Start/End: Kingsbury/Spooner Summit
Highlights: The best sunset yet: a bench at the foot of Genoa Peak
Tahoe's best place to watch a sunset
I wish that I’d have skipped those extra miles! The elevation change isn’t bad, but it’s still a LONG walk from Kingsbury to Spooner. The insoles were a bust, by the way. Although they felt great on the bottom of my feet they caused massive blisters on both heels.There is no water at the Spooner Summit trailhead, it is 3/4 below at Spooner Lake, a tap at the cabin I’ve been told. There is a working electrical outlet though, so I bummed some water and spent the night in beautiful, flat comfort: I slept on a picnic bench. The appeal was more than just the bench and the electricity though. Fall colors are starting to show and the summit is gilded in golden aspens.
Waking to rustling aspens on Spooner Summit
Mileage: 2.5 miles (87%)
Start/End: South Lake Tahoe/Kingsbury Grade
Highlights: An easy descent from Stagecoach to Edgewood Creek, made much easier with new batteries in my headlamp
Fighting the Good Fight: Insoles, New-Skin and Duck Tape
I’m heading back up to the trail tonight. I’ll take the BlueGo bus from South Lake back to the Stagecoach Lodge, then camp near the trailhead so that I can get an early start because it’s 15 miles to the next water, which is Spooner Summit Trailhead. Hopefully the municipal water is still on there. I was planning to pick up the TRT at the new Kingsbury Grade crossing closer to South Lake but two things swayed me: the only reliable water is on the south side of Kingsbury Grade; and I ran into the TRTA’s webmaster. He pointed out that if get back on the trail at the crossing, I will have skipped a couple miles of the trail. Well, I’ve come this far without skipping any, so why start now?
Rest. Plain and simple. I spent a week sleeping and eating and meeting the townsfolk. And finally my right foot is healed enough to hike on. I’ll be watchful not to let it get to that point again, and just to be safe I’ve got duck tape and New-Skin.
Mileage: 0.0 miles (85%)
Start/End: South Lake Tahoe
Highlights: Harrahs prime rib and seafood buffet
I'm a foodie. I resupplied with fresh fruit (apples and avocados) but when it ran out on day 12 I immediately began to dream of fresh produce and larger quantities of protein and fat. I found all that and more at Forest, but these two were my first purchase when I got to town.
Today saw the fruition of over a week of planning: I shaved and went out to dinner. That’s all I did today. Funny, I didn’t plan for shaving cream, and so I had to use shampoo, but dinner went perfectly: I didn’t eat lunch, then I drank a bunch of water and went to Raleys where I bought and ate a lemon to prepare my stomach. Then I took the elevator to the top floor of Harrahs Casino to the Forest Buffet and ate for nearly 3 hours. Crab and shrimp and mussels and clams, spare ribs and prime rib and roast chicken and seafood penne, canolis and eclairs and profiteroles, carrot- and cheese- and fudge- and espresso-mousse- and pineapple-upside-down cakes to name a few things I ate. The Washington bars whispered “Energy food” as I tonged passed them – they appear to be just caramel and oats and butter and pecans and a little chocolate – and though I shouldn’t have and I don’t think I’ll make it a habit – I put a few in my pocket.
The prime rib carver was a real keeper as my friend put it when she called half way through dinner: I told her how he happily sliced off the tenderloin end of the roasts, nonchalantly laying the spiced and deliciously fatty slabs on my plate time and again. By far the most tenderloin I’ve ever eaten at once.
The truth is she’s more than my friend, she’s my angel. She’s the real keeper because she’s done so much to make this trip possible and the piece I’m working on called Thank You is dedicated to her. We ‘caught up’ for over an hour and I was surprised how much had happened for both of us in just a month. We could have easily gone on for another hour it seemed but the buffet’d have kicked me out and she’d have keeled over with hunger. Her conversation complimented my dinner like the right wine pairing compliments a steak and by the end I was drunken on happiness. And I was hungry again. I ate 3 more crab clusters and smiled with satisfaction. I waddled back to my hotel, limping. My right foot is much better, now its just oozing and black and blue.
Mileage: 11.8 miles (85%)
Start/End: Freel Pass/South Lake Tahoe
Highlights: Hot lunch at Fox & Hound
Feet are destroyed, nights cold, food supply exhausted. I abandoned the trail indefinitely today. Foraging for berries and sleeping in hollow logs now. Just kidding. But really, I am stopping indefinitely. Sleeplessly cold the last 3 nights, endlessly hungry for days. Blistered blisters. Pinky toe eaten by massive conglomerate blister. Ghost pebble seems to wander in right shoe. First shower in 16 days now, it hurt. Ankles scaly with dirt, won’t seem to come clean. Ate 5 cookies and a giant burger with barbecued pork and a thick slice of ham on it. I’m not hungry now but I feel like I’m still walking. Not sure what to do next so I booked a week at the cheapest hotel I could find.
Mileage: 10.9 miles (77%)
Start/End: Big Meadow/Freel Pass
Highlights: Friendly local mountain bikers; another alpine sunset from an esoteric campsite
I was trudging along, too hot and too cold almost at the same time, and honestly starting to wonder if I was on the right damn trail, when I came upon a very friendly group of local Mountain bikers. the Treo shared some delightful information with me and some phenomenal energy as well as their power bars. Between this, a long break from hiking, a huge meal of beef stew with a cup of rice in it, and 2 Tylenol, I feel about a 1,000,000 times better than I did an hour ago! They told me that there is a spring 2 miles down the trail and when I get to Kingsbury Grade there is a great bar with pizza and a bus that goes to South Lake Tahoe. Woohoo! I was glad to hear this, because my right foot is severely bruised and blistered.
Sunset on Day 14 from camp on Freel Pass
Mileage: 8.0 miles (70%)
Start/End: Showers Lake/Big Meadow
Highlights: Morning yoga on the rocks above Showers
My right foot seems to have outgrown its shoe, and the lateral constriction has caused this split
I feel better today. My back doesn’t hurt. My blisters do. They’re getting a nice long break now. I’m relaxing in my hammock, looking out over antifreeze-green Round Lake. You wouldn’t want to filter your water here. Spurred by the pain, I started to stretch more. When I stretched more I realized I needed to lighten my load. When I did that my back stopped hurting so I stretched more. Legs and shoulders too. And my foot seems to have stopped getting worse. I realized you can’t let 1 part of your body suffer and just ignore it while the rest is fine. Like a stretch that feels great in the left hamstrings but tweaks the right knee. So I started thinking holistically. And it turned into a cycle.
Fall Colors in Big Meadow
I met some native Americans as I descended to the Big Meadow trailhead that told me about Larry trees – they smell like butterscotch – and told me about using sap to make glue. I also, for the first time, met another TRT thru hiker that is taking his time: 3 weeks or so, just like me.