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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 Five: Tahoe Rim Trail

1 Nov

Oct. 25, 2013

Tahoe City to Watson Lake

13.4 miles

This was actually an impressive morning for the girls. We woke up at 07:00 and were off to breakfast. It is not often we open a restaurant but today we did. We had a yummy of eggs, potatoes, and pancakes before heading back to the hotel after packing. This packing proved to be quite epic. Both us were saddled with HUGE food bags, enough for 6 days, each weighing in at approximately 11lbs. Couple that with 8 pounds of water and you have quite a load. Once stuffed we shouldered our packs and headed off towards the trail. Just needed to stop by the grocery store for some extra Ibuprofen and sunscreen.

The climb out of Tahoe City was not small. 1400 ft straight up and out. It started on a road and then after about 1/2 mile took a turn into the woods. Now, if you are a mountain biker or a trail runner out for one of these specific purposes the trail would be awesome. For a backpacker it is terrible! All of those serpentine turns, small humps, log jams, and whoopdies equal great fun when running or biking. When backpacking it equals BS leg tiring obstacles that serve no purpose in the enjoyment of your hike. When biking or running you don’t mind the extra  mileage of those fun, fast switchbacks. When trying to hike from point A to B it is simply obnoxious to double back on your footsteps and head in the opposite direction of the end goal. The beauty of the trail was not lost to us, but we were aggravated that the trail we were on was not sole built for our intended purpose of the moment.

This frustration led to foul moods and the desire for the day to end. We took frequent breaks and laughed at the fact that we were upset by trail conditions for a voluntary challenge. Once we hit Watson Lake we set up quickly and ate dinner in Aggie. Our options for bear bagging were quite limited so we chuckled at the fact that we were simply making the bears work a little extra for their food if they wanted it. We were quite sure our 10 foot branch on the verge of breaking with 22 pounds of food slung over it would not prove to be much of a challenge for the bear. We were exhausted physically and emotionally and at that point in the dark simply did not care if the bears got our food. It would just mean a little extra loss and many less pounds to carry. As we were falling asleep we took pride in our 13+ miles. It was the longest mileage we have ever been to accomplish when leaving the town vortex. So despite the trail conditions and the general grumpiness we felt a sense of accomplishment while drifting off to sleep.

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 Three: Tahoe Rim Trail

24 Oct

Oct. 23, 2013
Phipps Creek to Twin Peaks
17.5 miles

Well, it was hump day for sure. We both started the day a bit sore and tired. The adrenaline from the first two days had worn off and the reality of backpacking had set in. We were thankful to Jen and Em from the night before for prepping the water ahead of time. I climbed out of my sleeping bag to let down the bear bag and bring breakfast back to the tent. I crawled back into my sleeping bag and we drank our breakfast in warmth before breaking down camp. This morning was a bit colder than the previous and while there was no frost on the tent it was still quite chilly! Our camp was in the shelter of trees and the sun was still too low to even cast shadows. We started out the day with layers still on, and set off down the trail.
Jen and I have a nice rhythm when hiking. One leads, then we break, then the other leads. Today we made sure our first break was on a peak in the open for the sun was still climbing.
It is pretty noticeable at altitude. In the sun you are warm an in the shade you are not.
Today’s terrain was quite varied. We went from straight up rocks, to dirt path, to fire road. We struggled. Our bodies were tired and we were feeling the miles as we did them. When we stopped for lunch there was a lot of stretching and flopping about. Maybe even some moans and grumbles about the current state of legs. I also think we both took some Ibuprofen to help with recovery. However, we never complained. We made statements and observations but we never once complained.
Our afternoon was full of more difficult terrain, but also some fantastic views well worth the miles. We were afforded multiple views of Lake Tahoe, some beautiful mountains, and a fantastic ridge. We hiked through some snow fields, parted with the PCT, and ended the day with a 1500+ Ft climb.
Our camp was on a knob overlooking the lake with a magnificent sunset. Pictures here were taken with the camera not the phone so they will be uploaded later. Sorry for the tease, but trust me when I say it was beautiful.
We had exerted ourselves quite a bit on the climb and we cooled off fast. We set up the tent quickly and ate our dehydrated dinner of beans and rice with tortillas inside the those trusty nylon walls. With full bellies we bundled up and zipped in. The sun was setting and were ready to sleep. After a few recollections and observations about the day, we looked at the map and made our plans for tomorrow. We both groaned a bit as we made sure our alarms were set for early, and within minutes of the sun setting we were asleep.

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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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