Sunday, June 14, 2009

Last Tahoe Rim Trail HIke

Last evening we took a look at the weather forecast for the next couple days and discovered that today was the only “rain free” day of the remaining days we have here.  Unable to resist, we wanted one last wonderful hiking day before we left.

The easiest access to the Tahoe Rim Trail from our campground is at Spooner Summit.  It is just 10 miles and we can be there in 15 or 20 minutes.  What is good for us is also good for everybody else.  Since this is a popular section of the trail, there are 2 small parking lots and 1 large parking lot.  They all easily fill up.  To make parking a little more difficult, the forest service is working on one of the smaller lots and it is closed.  The result is “the early bird gets the spot”.  We were at the trailhead at 7:30 this morning and  got the last available spot in the smaller lot.  We wanted that lot because it was on the north side of the road--the side we wanted to hike today.

We have hiked along this section of trail twice before, but we still enjoy every step.  Today we went farther than on our past trips--going 4 miles to the junction with the trail that connects the Tahoe Rim Trail with with Marlette campground on the North Canyon Trail (a couple weeks ago we hiked the North Canyon road up to this campground).  The junction was our destination today; at the junction we were 400 feet above the campground.  From our vantage point, we had a view over the canyon walls to the lake beyond.

The 4 miles out was very quiet.  Even though the parking lot was full, we saw only 1 other hiker and his dog.  We hadn’t been back on the trail many minutes after our break at the junction, than the crowds descended.  It was a beautiful day and everybody wanted to be out.
Rain has brought out moss on the trees.
We had a special opportunity on the trail today.  Yesterday on our hike we ran into a backpacker.  Once you’ve seen a long-distance hiker, you usually recognize them for what they are.  This guy had “the look” so we stopped to chat with him a couple minutes.  Sure enough, he was planning to hike the 160 miles of Tahoe Rim Trail and had started about 25 miles south of where we met him at Big Meadows.  Today, we ran into him again.  He said he had a good night (cold, I’ll bet) even though being in bear country seemed to make him a little nervous.  We offered him any of our food and water.  He declined the food (not been on the trail enough days, I guess), but he did take a quart of water.  The high mountain ridge trails of the west are famous for their lack of water.  We were happy to be able to fill his water bottle.  He thanked us,  pronounced us “trail angels” and we went our separate ways.

Trail angels are good hearted folks who do little things to make the journey of the long-distance hiker just a little easier.  Having spent some time on the Appalachian Trail, we have benefited from several trail angels.  We have come across a stash of fresh fruit, a cooler of cold drinks, gallons jugs of water on a particularly dry stretch of trail, and even a beer at a creek crossing.  Perhaps the best trail angel we’ve run into was the guy who picked us up and gave us a ride into Hiawassee, GA saving us a very long road walk.  We have often been on the receiving end from trail angels.  Today we got the opportunity to pass along that good fortune to someone else.

We may take the quick 2 mile walk around Spooner Lake again before we leave on Wednesday.  It depends on the weather.  But instead of hiking, we now need to turn our attention to getting our rig ready to roll again.  Tomorrow will be household chores--laundry, grocery, vacuuming, etc, etc, etc.  Tuesday, we’ll be more specific in getting things stowed for travel.  California, here we come.

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