The shade of blue hadn’t changed at all. From high above and through a scrim of smoky haze, the sapphire hue of Lake Tahoe was no less brilliant than when I had last seen it two years ago while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Only this time, Emily and I were back to join our good friends Beardoh and Sweet Pea for a summer send-off thru-hiking the Tahoe Rim Trail.
Tahoe Rim Trail 2018
Daily dispatches and photos from the Tahoe Rim Trail, a 174-mile footpath circumnavigating high above the northern Sierra’s Lake Tahoe.
Before today had even begun, yesterday quite literally ended with a thud. The thud in this case was the sound of me smacking into the ground neck first as my hammock came unmoored from its webbing on one end while I was lying in it. The ground beneath me was fortunately stone free, so a few minutes and a couple of ibuprofen later, I was back hanging and off to dreamland.
It took me a moment to recognize what I was looking at. Scattered flecks of grey and white were sprinkled on my hammock as I went to turn in last night, and it was then I realized that the smoke hanging on the horizon that had given us such a scarlet tinged sunset had also given us these little flakes of ash. It was odd to have that connection to something happening so far away.
Little did I know how close we were. Our hammock spot last night was a mere few hundred yards from the junction of where the Tahoe Rim Trail joins the Pacific Crest Trail for a 50-mile stretch through the mountains along the west side of Lake Tahoe.
Returning somewhere that holds a special space in your memory can go one of two ways—either the anticipation proves too great for the reality to live up to the recollection or the memory is renewed and reaffirmed. Today was most certainly the latter.
Just as the sun began to crest the distant ridge, we were already saying our goodbyes to the Desolation Wilderness. The uncharacteristically rock-choked trail that had begun almost upon entering the wilderness yesterday continued for a few final miles as we hewed closely to the shore of Echo Lake…
The southern portion of the Tahoe Rim Trail sweeps well away from the lake itself, so much so that it’s possible to forget the lake is even there at all let alone your orientation to it. Today, however, we began making our turn back towards the lake while also heading closer to the Nevada state line and the drier eastern portion of the hike.
When I reached out of my hammock and lit the stove for coffee, the contrast of the dull warmth of the stove’s heat against the chill of the morning air only amplified how cold of a night it had been. Nestled into a basin all its own, Star Lake had made for a beautiful but cold night under another blanket of stars with the Milky Way on full display.
Sandwiched in between the snowy Crystal Range to the west and the parched Carson Range to the east, Lake Tahoe sits as the second deepest lake in the country and somewhere deep within its inky blue waters lies the California-Nevada state line.
No two hikes are ever the same and no matter how many miles you have under your feet there’s always something more to learn—that’s part of what makes it so much fun. Whether it’s learning how to not shower for a week or more (surprisingly easy) or learning new ways of walking when blisters or foot pain make it difficult to walk normally (harder)…