On July 2, 2009, Jay Wilkerson, Cameron Kennedy, Tony Wong and I embarked on a thru-hike of the 165 mile Tahoe Rim Trail, which encircles Lake Tahoe (Nevada/California). We started the trail at Tahoe Meadows (above Incline Village, Nevada) and hiked clockwise, completing the trail in 9 days. Due to child care obligations, Jay had to leave us and the trail after about 127 trail miles in Tahoe City. Cameron, Tony and I completed the 165 mile trail 2 days later, on July 10.
This hike was significant for BPL because, although Tony and I had known each other before our BPL membership, we met Cameron and Jay through BPL, and thus BPL members now are not only connecting to embark on short weekend socializing type hikes, but also longer thru hikes.
As all of you familiar with Tony Wong's trip reports might expect, Tony will post a full photo essay. As you also might expect, it will take quite some time for Tony to sort through the more than 1500 pictures he took on the trail. As a result, I'm posting this brief report just so that you have the nuts and bolts and to let you all know that we completed the trail.
So here's the basics:
Day 1 (7/2): Tahoe Meadows to Marlette Peak Campground. 14 miles (All mileages are approximate.) We drove up from the SF Bay Area that morning and got on the trail by 11:30. We had short thundershowers on day 1, but this turned out to be the only clouds we saw for 9 days. After that it was blue sky. Marlette Peak Campground is a backpacker campground in Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. It is the only place on the trail where you have to camp in a designated backpacker campground.
Day 2 (7/3): Marlette Peak Campground to dry camp in a wash about a mile short of Kingsbury Grade North. 21 miles. After Spooner Lake, this is a very dry section of trail (the East side of Lake Tahoe is very dry generally). We had lunch and filled up at Spooner and then packed as much water as we could carry for a dry night.
Day 3 (7/4): Mile short of Kingsbury Grade North to Star Lake. 13 miles. These miles include 3 miles of hiking on roads through the Heavenly Valley ski resort area. These miles are not included in the official 165 miles of trail, so if you walk them as we did, you are actually hiking 168 miles. We stopped for a big breakfast at a pub on Tramway Drive and stocked up on groceries for a resupply at the Tramway Market. We had planned for this and had brought dinners for 4 nights before a planned resupply but planned to resupply everything else after 2 days at the market. This worked out well and gave us some variety in our food. We also got carry out lunches from the pub and thus had fresh sandwiches on the trail that day. This the only day we hiked a part day, stopping at Star Lake at about 3:30 and enjoying a swim and some time to relax. We watched the distant fireworks at South Lake Tahoe in the evening.
Day 4 (7/5): Star Lake to Showers Lake. 21 miles. Two miles short of Showers Lake we joined the PCT, which we would follow North for the next 50 miles (the TRT and PCT join for this portion of the hike). We timed this perfectly, as the PCT thru hikers going north were coming through in force at the same time we were on the trail. We enjoyed hanging out with them and learning from them about their experience on the trail. They had hiked approximately 1100 miles when we joined them on the trail.
Day 5 (7/6): Showers Lake to Heather Lake. 18 plus miles. The second half of the day was a beautiful hike through the Southern half of the Desolation Wilderness. We met my Dad for a resupply at Echo Summit and then hiked on to Echo Chalet for a fresh lunch and some additional groceries before entering the Desolation Wilderness.
Day 6 (7/7): Heather Lake to Richardson Lake. 17 miles, plus 4.2 mile detour by accident on the wrong trail when we took a 2.1 mile wrong turn at Middle Velma Lake and had to back track to the trail. This day included a beautiful hike up and over Dicks Pass and some marching through minor snow fields. It also included being entertained by a group of 3 singers hiking the PCT for a charity for disabled veterans. They sung in camp and the next day on the trail, and definitely added some color to our evening by the lake. Amazingly, they had never backpacked before their thru hike.
Day 7 (7/8): Richardson Lake to Tahoe City. 23 miles. We left the PCT 5 miles after Barker Pass and descended to Tahoe City. Had dinner at a pizza place, resupplied at the grocery store and stayed in a motel in Tahoe City. Fair game on a thru hike if it passes through town, plus the hot tub at the motel soothed aching muscles. Jay dropped us back at the trailhead the next morning and headed back to the Bay Area to attend to family obligations. Cameron, Tony and I pressed on.
Day 8 (7/9): Tahoe City to a mile or so past Brockway Summit. 20 miles. We had cached water at Brockway Summit, so after hiking 19 miles to Brockway Summit, we loaded up on our water cache, and dry camped after ascending the first switch backs past Brockway Summit.
Day 9 (7/10): A mile past Brockway Summit to Tahoe Meadows. 18 miles. We staggered into the finish line only to be immediately jolted back to real life. Tony's car window had been smashed and our clean clothes and other items stored in the trunk had been stolen, including wallet, cell phone and keys for Cameron. A reminder that Tahoe, while beautiful, is not exactly a remote wilderness. We drove into town for post-hike celebratory beers and chow before the drive home.
As I said at the outset, this is a brief sketch of our hike. The full story and pictures will be worth the wait I'm sure, and Jay has posted a few pics already.
I know this brief report didn't go into gear choices and too much logistical details, but I'm happy to answer any questions anyone has on these things.