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Tahoe Rim Trail Picture Journal

3 Nov

Twin ULA Circuit pakcs

Twin ULA Circuit packs

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View of Echo Lake on the first day.

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Jen and Em full of energy on day 1.

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Sunset over Lake Aloha on night 1.

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Day 2 morning hiking out away from Lake Aloha.

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Example of all the crystal clear water in the Desolation Wilderness lakes.

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Beautiful tree shot by Em.

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View from Dick’s Pass back over the southern part of the Desolation Wilderness.

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Trail shot climbing through the wilderness.

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PCT and TRT signs on the 55 mile section that they combine into one trail.

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Trail signs looking back from Barker Pass Trailhead.

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View climbing out of the Desolation Wilderness.

Jen and Aggie (our tent).

Jen and Aggie (our tent).

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Beauty shot of the giant pinecones.

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One of our first views of Lake Tahoe.

Emily and the lake.

Emily and the lake.

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

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It is just really pretty.

Trail around one of the many Desolation Wilderness lakes.

Trail around one of the many Desolation Wilderness lakes.

Emily hiking in some snow from a previous storm.

Emily hiking in some snow from a previous storm.

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Our tent during the storm.

Day Eight: Tahoe Rim Trail

2 Nov

October 28, 2013

Zero in Snowy Tent

I woke up in the dark  at 6am on day 8, disoriented because I could feel the tent leaning in on me.  I felt around to find both sides of the tent and the vestibule had caved in on us.  The forecasted “1 inch of snowy slush” had turned into 6+ inches of snow that had covered our tent during the night.  The weight of the snow had caved in both the sides along with the vestibule, leaving both of us about 2 feet of dry tent to share.  We layered up and climbed out of the tent into the storm to fortify Aggie.   We brushed off the snow, staked out the tent as tightly as we could and tried to come up with a plan for how to stay dry as we waited out the storm.   Emily had a great suggestion to put logs in between tent and the fly to build up some space prevent snow from coming underneath the fly.   After we had bomb-proofed our tent to the best of our abilities we dove back into the tent to rewarm ourselves and try to dry out our down sleeping bags a bit.

As we warmed up we had a decision to make- should we head out in the storm not knowing how much more we were supposed to get or how much visibility we would have or should we wait it out?  After some discussion we decided to wait out the storm, since it was still going strong and we had no idea how much snow to anticipate.   What does waiting a storm out mean in a tiny tent?  Nap time!  We slept through the morning and ate lunch in our sleeping bags as the snow continued to come down.   The rest of the day was then a combination of napping, trying to check the weather and making sure to keep our gear as dry as possible as the snow piled up.

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Day Six: Tahoe Rim Trail

1 Nov

October 26th, 2013

Watson Lake to Mile 31 (past Grey Lake Trail)

17.6 miles

We woke up again at 7am and went through our normal morning routine of getting the bear bag down, having our breakfast shake and packing up for the day.  We were both out of water and stopped at the first available creek to fill up.  During our AT trip we had used the MSR Hyperflow and really liked it.   This time we had decided to try the Sawyer filter, which is much lighter and simpler.   However, it was about this point at the creek on Day 5 that we realized that the Sawyer filter is not right for us.   We each carry a 2-3L bladder of water at all times and then an additional 20oz bottle for energy drinks.  With the Sawyer filter this takes about 30-45 minutes to complete for the two of us- not convenient!  If you are someone on your own you can just use it as a personal squeeze botttle, which makes it a cinch, but we are going back to the Hyperflow.

After our extended water break, we hiked through the Brockway Summit Trailhead and then started up a 2,000 foot climb up Mount Baldy, avoiding many mountain bikers on the way.   After enjoying the views on top of Mount Baldy we entered Nevada and the Mount Rose Wilderness.  This was the first part of the trail that felt like we were truly hiking a “rim”.  We had gorgeous continuous view of Lake Tahoe and stopped several times for pictures and viewing breaks.   We then passed Grey Lake Trail and continued on to a campsite at about 9,500 feet.   I was definitely feeling the effects of the altitude and got a little loopy as we settled into camp for the night.   After downing another Backpacker Pantry special we sacked out to get ready for an even longer next day.

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Day Four: Tahoe Rim Trail

24 Oct

October 24th
11.5 miles
Thursday morning we woke up feeling slightly more refreshed than the other mornings. The night had been warmer and we had both slept a little better because of it. We had our breakfast and packed up while enjoying the view of the lake before setting off toward town. Though we had over 11 miles to hike, it was almost all down hill which made for a quick morning. We only took one real break to eat before continuing on our way. We saw three mountain bikers, which felt like a lot since we had only seen one other person in the last couple of days!

We made it into town around 1pm (which meant we had knocked out 50 miles in exactly 72 hours!). We had to walk to the far end of town to pick up our drop at the post office before coming back and getting a hotel room in the thick of things. We dropped all our gear off and immediately went to the Tahoe Brewery for some beers and burgers (veggie for me). It all tasted delicious thanks to the hiker hunger we had already started building up.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in typical town day fashion- laundry, lounging and catching up on TV and the Internet. We may love to hike but we also love to rest when the time comes! 20131024-193845.jpg20131024-193857.jpg

Day Two: Tahoe Rim Trail

24 Oct

Mosquito Pass to Phipp’s Creek
Day 2 we woke up at 7am to discover our tent was covered in frost- a first for our Big Agnes. We drank our usual breakfast (Slim Fast high protein, powdered milk and instant coffee combined with water) in the tent to stay warm while the sun rose a little higher. We packed up and headed out by 9am. The whole day was spent in the Desolation Wilderness, passing by gorgeous lake after gorgeous lake. Gilmore Lake, Dick’s Lake, Lake Fontanillas and the Velma Lakes were some of the highlights. We ate lunch at the top of Dick’s Pass with incredible views of the Wilderness on both sides. After 13.1 miles we stopped at Phipp’s Creek to set up camp because the next water was over 5 miles away. We ate one of our many Backpacker’s Pantry dehydrated meals we are trying (this one was Fettuccini Alfredo with Chicken) and even had a dessert one- Smore’s thanks to Scott. We hit the sack by sundown, which is about 6:30pm out here. No late nights for these ladies!

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Welcome to Tahoe!

21 Oct

We are here! Emily and I arrived in South Lake Tahoe this afternoon to do some final prep and get acclimatized before we head out in the morning. However, our adventure began before we even got here! About 15 miles outside of Tahoe we got our first opportunity to pay back some hitch hiking karma by picking up a female mountain biker in need. She had taken a big fall and was lost and disoriented, so we scooped her up and helped her get her bearings back before dropping her off with some locals. We have a lot more paying back to do, but it was a start!

We then arrived at our hotel for the night and quickly got the last of our food and gear organized. This was made a lot easier because we had been given a free upgrade to a suite with a separate sitting room and kitchen! We enjoyed the sitting room by doing Emily’s pre-race and pre-trail tradition- painting our toenails to increase our speed and stamina. It is scientifically proven. Try it.

Then we grabbed a bite at Stateline Brewery, known for its play on the “Keep Tahoe Blue” bumper stickers. The food was good and the beer was even better. We finished the night off with some sweets from the Nestle Tollhouse Bakery in town- something I couldn’t possibly miss out on! Now it is off to sleep so we can send our drop off in the AM and then hit the trail.

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Tahoe Rim Trail Prep

18 Oct

As we get down to the last few days before we take off on Sunday, I just wanted to post a few more details about our next trail, the Tahoe Rim Trail.  It is approximately 170 mile loop around Lake Tahoe, making it one of the few long distance trails that is a loop trail.  The peak season to hike is between mid-July and mid-October, so we are just passed the peak and are keeping our fingers crossed for continued good weather.   The temperatures are supposed to be upper 50s to low 60s during the day and around 30F at night. and word is that there hasn’t been any big snow as of yet.  We have packed plenty of cold weather gear to keep us as toasty as possible since neither of us thrive in freezing temperatures.

Why the Tahoe Rim Trail in particular?  Well we chose this trail for a few reasons.  First of all, it is a loop which makes logistics easier since we don’t have to figure out rides to and from the trail.  Second, Emily only has two weeks off from her current travel assignment, so we were looking for a trail that we could conceivably thru-hike during that time period.  Most people do the TRT in about 10-14 days, which made it a good fit.  Lastly, about 55 miles of the Tahoe Rim Trail is on the Pacific Crest Trail, so we will get our first taste of what is to come in April.

One of the main challenges to this trail is the altitude.   The trail ranges from about 6,200 ft to 10,400 feet in elevation.  Adapting to decreased levels of oxygen is going to be a challenge, but we have decided to try a few techniques to give us a leg up since we are both coming from sea level.  A few studies have shown that taking gingko biloba several days before and then while you are at altitude can decrease likelihood of Acute Mountain Sickness.  In addition, iron supplements increase oxygen carrying capacity, especially for Emily and I who are probably both anemic at baseline.   The last approach I am taking is using the “altitude chamber” they have at my gym.   It is my first experience with one of these and it is basically a small chamber with an elliptical and a treadmill inside that simulates the oxygen deprivation and pressure of 9,000ft elevation.  I have been doing my full workouts there 2-3 times a week the past few weeks to get my body used to it.  I have had Acute Mountain Sickness a couple times in my life and hoping that my workouts at elevation will help decrease my chances of getting it again.

While our initial intentions for the trip were to try out our new gear and get in shape, life has thrown us many curveballs as of late (to Emily in particular).  While we will still  keep these goals in mind, to me this trip has become more about renewing our commitment to each other as a team and spending time with my “sister” in the place we love to be most- the back country.  Life can get incredibly difficult and complicated and it is important to remember the simple joy of putting one foot in front of other.  Even if we are huffing and puffing as we do it!

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