The hills are alive...

I've decided to start chipping away at the Tahoe Rim Trail this summer.

For those of you who don't know, the Tahoe Rim Trail is a 165 mile loop that completely surrounds Lake Tahoe.  It meanders around the lake, mostly at higher elevations including rim tops and peaks with spectacular scenery looking both toward the lake and away from it into massive Sierra Nevada vistas.  The trail encounters smaller lakes, streams, meadows, sunny switchbacks, forested ravines, shale slopes, old lava fields and just about every type of  geology, view and high country terrain imaginable.

Although I enjoy backpacking, I have to face the fact that I am probably never going to pull a Cheryl Strayed and hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail, which runs from Mexico to Canada.  (If you haven't read her book, Wild, you really should.  I happened to hear her interviewed on NPR when the book first came out and read it then.  I loved it so much I ordered 3 more copies and lent them repeatedly to all my friends.)

Wild, one of my favorite books. I fantasize about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, but probably will never actually do it.
Unlike the PCT, the Tahoe Rim Trail is a goal I can probably achieve.  It's much shorter, and of course, closer to home.

Yesterday my friend Sasha and I did what will be my first segment, the 11 mile trail from Barker Pass to Ward Canyon.  We dropped a car at Ward and took the other car up the beautiful winding Blackwood Canyon drive to Barker Pass trailhead.  It was a gorgeous day and the wildflowers were spectacular.  Even though we are in a severe drought, recent rains have kept the dust down on the trails, the meadows greening up, flowers blooming and water in the springs and streams.

Ouch!!  Doing the full loop.  Elevation gain and loss from Tahoe City to Tahoe City.

Let me just say, that although I hike frequently and "take a walk in the woods" just about every day with my two dogs, 11 miles was a stretch for me, and for the dogs, too.  I came home feeling satisfied but exhausted and spent the late afternoon and evening under a down blanket watching serial reruns of The Barefoot Contessa with my exhausted dogs by my side...not moving...not one inch...all three of us.

"I'm not cooking dinner", I informed my husband, who was forced to run into town to purchase the fixings for one of the few meals in his cooking repertoire; Italian sausages, premade mashed potatoes (which he "cooks" by microwaving and then drowning in butter) and premade broccoli with cheese sauce.  When I  finally got up from under the blanket to mince-step into the kitchen, I could barely stand up straight and every footfall sent shooting pains up from my toes to my hips.  I may have been hoping for a Barefoot Contessa meal, but what I got tasted like the best food on the planet!  Big hikes make hungry tummies. Thank you Mark for pitching in when needed, as usual!

Anyway, the meadows were so beautiful yesterday with early wildflowers on full parade.  This particular segment had us walking for an hour or so through huge high elevation meadows in upper Ward Canyon near the backside of the Alpine Meadows ski resort.  They were absolutely stunning. I told Sasha that I felt like Shirley Temple in Heidi in that scene where she's running up a meadow on a Swiss mountain slope, yelling "Grandfather, grandfather".

Mules Ears and larkspur.  

More Mule's Ears and some Indian Paint Brush in orange.  

A favorite wild flower, native columbine.  It used to grow in my garden, but unfortunately, rabbits like columbine/

Portions of yesterday's segment were also spent near two different peaks, Barker Peak and Twin Peaks.  We also teetered for a while on the tippy top of mountain crests, which is pure and simply, one of the best feelings you can experience.

The path along the ridge line.  That's Lake Tahoe off in the distance.  

A view of Barker Peak and Twin Peaks in the distance, both of which we travelled past on our hike.  Barker Peak is a favorite day hike of mine and I often take out-of-town friends along, as the view to the lake from here is spectacular.  

That reminds me, does anyone remember the old TV show called The Happy Wanderer?  My parents loved it and we often watched it when I was growing up.  Sometimes when I'm hiking way up high on a mountaintop, the soundtrack from the show runs through my mind.  I can't help it, I'm a dork like that! Here's a youtube video with the track, in case there are any other dorks like me out there:

The Rim Trail is beautifully marked and maintained.  Trailheads are stocked with detailed maps for each leg of the hike.  In case you're interested in the Tahoe Rim Trail web-site or organization, see here.  

Next week I'll try a different section, probably Watson Lake to the Tahoe City Nordic Center.  I'm starting easy by choosing all the trailheads that start at higher elevations you can drive up to and therefore, hike somewhat downhill from.  Maybe I'll build up steam as the summer wears on.  Or maybe not.

By the way, Sasha is my real estate agent.  She's  a top-ranked agent with Coldwell Banker in Tahoe City.  I highly recommend her if you're in the market for a house in Tahoe.  You can find her at:   Office: 530.583.5581 Email:

A hiking must-have... crazy hat!

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