Recently, I met with a group of 15 long distance hikers as they set up camp outside Tahoe City. They were on day nine of their fifteen day thru-hike of the 165 mile long Tahoe Rim Trail. Each year, the Tahoe Rim Trail Association leads a pair of two week hikes around the entire TRT. The TRTA provides hike leaders, Trail Angel support, food, and the good feeling that comes from making a donation to an organization the helps build and maintain Tahoe's most treasured trail.
While taking two weeks to hike the Tahoe Rim Trail is certainly a much easier task then hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail or Appalachian Trail, it is still a substantial accomplishment. For starters, the hike includes over 26,000 feet of climbing. Then, hikers face several long sections of trail where water is in short supply and must be either stashed ahead of time or brought to you by others. The TRTA's annual hike can't eliminate all that hiking, but it helps hikers in many other ways. Several experienced guides eliminate any fears of getting lost. Every few days you meet up with the TRTA trail angels who bring in food, water and good cheer, and at other times, the angels stash water for hikers. The angels also carry around the hikers personal duffle bag which can be used to replenish the supplies in your backpack, while allowing you to keep the weight of your pack down. Perhaps most importantly, the TRTA thru-hike, enables hikers to share the experience with a group of others taking on the same challenge.
The Tahoe Rim Trail circles Lake Tahoe. Along the way you will enjoy miles of spectacular lake views, cross high mountain passes, walk through deep forests of firs and pines, and be offered the opportunity to take a dip in several sparkling wilderness lakes. Near the Truckee River in Tahoe City you reach your lowest elevation of 6200 feet. About 25 miles to the east, you climb to over 10,000 feet at Relay Peak. The TRT is a loop. So wherever you begin, if you keep on walking you will end up where you started. And during much of that loop you can look across Lake Tahoe and impress yourself with how far you have gone, and try not to notice how far you still have to go.
When the task is completed your feet, legs and lungs will be beat, but you will receive the satisfaction of accomplishing a great goal, and the opportunity to join the Tahoe Rim Trail 165 Mile Club. To join in the fun next year, go to tahoerimtrail.org
Tim Hauserman wrote the official guidebook to the Tahoe Rim Trail, now in its third edition.