Nevada History by John C. Evanoff is excited to present this series of articles by noted author and poet, John C. Evanoff. John will tell us about Nevada history and cover some of the more remote and unusual things to see and do in Northern Nevada.

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Favorite Treks of Reno #2 of 10

January 2010
By John Evanoff

Nevada is amazingly diverse for the casual trekker as well as the hardened enthusiast and many Sierra stories have been written by local and visiting hikers establishing this fact countless times. My top ten favorite treks are down to the final two and my justification for this hike being second is only due to its enormity, so it isn’t for everybody who hikes.

One can only hope you get a chance to make this trip at least once in your lifetime. This is by far the longest and most difficult, but also the most rewarding and memorable of all my hikes in the vicinity, and believe me, I have hundreds of them I can recollect throughout Northern Nevada. This trek is the entire 165 mile length of the Tahoe Rim Trail. At the time I hiked it in 1982, there was hardly any trail to speak of and in fact, there was only a small trail hard to locate at times as part of the Pacific Crest Trail on the western side of Tahoe which was later widened and maintained, then associated as part of the Tahoe Rim Trail. Also, at that time, there were just a few spots on the southern and eastern sides that had any trails at all. There were no trailheads to speak of and the hike could only be traversed by use of a forest service map and compass. Five years later when I became a member of the Tahoe Rim Trail Organization, I spent some time helping build and widen the present trail at the eastern, southern and northern portions. Most of the western portion is still part of the Pacific Crest Trail route that extends from Mexico to the Canadian border. Friends of mine have made the entire PCT trek and one couple (Joe and Carol McVeigh) we befriended in the 1990’s made the trip over a six month period and video recorded their effort. For those wishing to view it, I believe some copies called “Border to Border” are still out there under the Purple Dragon Ventures brand. Many more have made the same trip with lots of video recordings and books to attest to their adventures.

More recently, the Tahoe Rim Trail has dedicated a special page on its website devoted to The 165 Mile Club which is certification that you have made the entire loop through a process of application and special entries in logs. I am not on that list because I have not been back to accomplish the task since 1982. The two weeks and two days I took to make the trek back then can be whittled down to seven to ten days or less now depending on resources and physical ability. The most important part of this adventure is to plan everything to the smallest details regarding food, water, camping gear, survival gear, maps, clothes and communications. You should then reevaluate and scrutinize everything again for proper preparation. If you are not in shape for a minimum 20 mile per day hike over the course of ten days, you should spend at least six months training for this journey. Even if you only take on one side of the Rim Trail, you better be in shape, otherwise, you may injure yourself on certain stretches because of their difficulty and since they are fairly far from help, you stand the chance of waiting a long period of time for help if you do get hurt. You can pick up maps and more information at the office of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association in Incline Village at 948 Incline Way. Call before you visit at 775-298-0012 so you’ll be sure they are open and they have the necessary information on hand.

The trick to this hike is to take it with the knowledge you will be gaining an experience very few have contemplated let alone accomplished. It is a goal to be achieved by only those with the enthusiasm for the experience. When you begin, it is best to have someone take you to the first entry point or trail head for your hike. Another good idea is to have someone meet you at each trail head you designate ahead of time for resupply so you do not have to pack in a lot of excessive weight. Remember to take the most basic of survival equipment with you throughout the entire trek and then remove waste at each trail head stop and repack with new supplies. It’s a given you will need a lot of protein and carbohydrates, so pack lots of protein bars and bring as much dried food as possible. Dried fruits and trail mix is my favorite. A handful of trail mix every couple hours will give you enough energy throughout the day and then a light breakfast and dinner is all you need to keep your system running. If you are a bit overweight, you will lose some inches on this hike but you should be invigorated by every mile you finish. Take a log with you to write about your experiences during the days on the trek. If you go with a friend or friends, discuss and share your experiences of the day and jot them down. You will remember this all the rest of your life. It’s just too beautiful up there not to.

More wildlife will be seen on your trip than you ever expected, so it’s important to take a camera with extra batteries or recharge your packs if you have one of the new charging kits now available for extending battery life on your cameras and cell phones. I didn’t have a cell phone, radio or digital camera in 1982. All I had was a good water filter, binoculars, a Pentax 35mm SLR camera with a dozen rolls of film, four canteens, a small one man tent, a mummy bag, lots of trail mix, about two dozen K-Ration packs and five 16 oz. jars of peanut butter. The peanut butter was breakfast and I ate about a third of a jar every morning. Of course I also had two small cooking pans and all the other camping gear I needed with a good first aid kit to boot and all bundled into a big backpack with lots of bunji-cords. The weight of the inside-framed lidded backpack was well over seventy pounds. Most backpackers’ today average packs which very seldom go over 30 or 40 pounds. If you are in shape, the heavier framed backpack will allow you to bring along more and as long as you center the heavier equipment and stores along the base of your spine, you should not have a problem carrying the additional weight. Today’s backpacker can reduce weight with the many light food packs available and with the newer technologies, communications can allow you to pick up stores of food and resupply items at three, four or however many stops you wish along the route.

From Reno, the best place to start is the Mount Rose Tahoe Meadows Trailhead located on NSR 431 just west over the Mount Rose Summit. The trailhead access gives you plenty of room to get your stuff together and put your last minute plans in the hands of those who will meet you along the way to resupply you. Also, this is the more strategic plan of attack because it allows you to hit one of the hardest parts of the trail at an early stage when you are fresh. From there, you will head north across some fairly rugged country once you get the first few miles of a nice wide Mount Rose Trail behind you and end up at Brockway Summit which could be your first possible resupply station. The next stations for possible resupply include Tahoe City just off Highway 89, Echo Summit at Highway 50, Big Meadows at Highway 89, Kingsbury Summit at Highway 27 and Spooner Summit at Highway 50. The segment between Tahoe City and Echo Summit eventually connects with the Pacific Crest Trail and gives you sights the casual weekend Rim Trail Hiker very rarely sees. Except for a spot through Ward Canyon which has a fairly good increase in elevation going west, the hike begins to level off just pass Barker Pass and onto the Pacific Crest Trail. At around 50 miles in length along the west side of Tahoe, this segment is also the longest without a resupply stop. These access routes are the simplest to enter and exit for resupply by your friends, but you can also have them resupply you along the route in some areas where forest roads meet the trail, especially at the southeast and northeast side of Lake Tahoe. You’ll need forest maps to get to those planned. If you are like me and just love to hike without interruption, take enough supplies to handle the entire route. You’ll need to use your water filter every morning you are near a water source to fill your canteens for sure. There are potable water sources at Tahoe City, Echo, Kingsbury and Spooner for those who do not have a filter. You can also resupply yourself with food at stops in Tahoe City and Kingsbury.

For those who have horses, the Tahoe Rim Trail is by far one of the best engineered trails for horseback anywhere in the Sierra Nevada. One thing you might want to keep in mind though is having enough water for your steed. Many of the segments are almost completely waterless and due to the elevation, your horse will need extra water, so be sure to bring enough to keep the animal hydrated along the way and camp as close to creeks and springs whenever possible. You’ll need a lot of oats and grains for the trip too.

The Tahoe Rim Trail website has more information on all the different segments and it is fun and probably advisable you study the segments and maps before your trek. It also gives a great description of what you may see and experience including a report of the actual trail difficulty. The entire Tahoe Rim Trail can be hiked or horseback ridden but only portions can be traversed by mountain bike. If you bike, you will need to pick up a map of those segments that allow bikes at the Tahoe Rim Trail Center.

Now, for those of you, who view this kind of adventure as only a dream; remember you can hike the shorter segments or perhaps parts of segments without all the planning and packing. Most of the eastern, northern and southern sides of the Tahoe Rim Trail can be divided into smaller portions and thus they become much more goal attainable. They are just as beautiful and enjoyable to experience and I would hope everyone at least try this approach before giving up on the entire idea. Once you have hiked a bit of the trail, you may be anxious to try an entire segment or even the whole route. A very good start is to hike the one mile Tahoe Meadows Loop Trail to get a feeling for the hard work put into the Tahoe Rim Trail by volunteers who built the trail and are maintaining it annually.

In recent years, some hardy individuals have taken to snowshoes to hike many of the segments in the winter, but I like late April through October to hike in the Sierras and especially in May when the spring wildflowers begin to color the entire landscape and the wildlife viewing is most abundant. The majestic views from all along the Tahoe Rim Trail are ever changing and it really doesn’t matter what time of year you make the trip, so just do it; you’ll enjoy the experience.

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