Backpacking the Tahoe Rim Trail

The Tahoe Rim Trail is 165 miles long and goes around the entirety of Lake Tahoe. You can choose to complete the thru-hike in one fell swoop, you can do day hikes on portions of it, or you can choose to backpack just parts of it. I have done the latter two, but I want to talk specifically about backpacking from Mt. Rose Summit to Spooner Summit on the Tahoe Rim Trail.

The Trail

You technically start just south of Mt Rose Summit (within walking distance) at Tahoe Meadows. There is a huge parking lot where you can leave your car and a proper toilet before embarking into the wilderness. This section of the TRT is about 25 miles long. We hiked around 15 miles the first day and 10 miles the last day. I recommend you leave a car at the Spooner Summit Trail head. You might be able to hitch a ride back, but I was so beat after this trek, that the last thing I wanted to worry about was how I getting back to my car. The trail takes you up along the east shore of Lake Tahoe, and the highlight of our first day is when you reach the summit above Marlette Lake. Here you get a view of Marlette and Tahoe in one shot. If you are keen on visiting Marlette Lake, read my blog about the Lake Tahoe Flume Trail. From this point, your first day of hiking is almost complete. There is a campground you can stay at called Marlette Peak Campground. They have vault toilets, bear lockers, a picnic table, a fire ring and most importantly – potable water. We made dinner, played cards and enjoyed some whiskey after a long day of hiking.

On day two, you’ll wind alongside a mountain offering picturesque views of Lake Tahoe before you head into the trees until you reach Spooner Summit and the end of the hike. Do look out for the TRT signs. At one point we ended up on the Flume Trail and had to back pedal. We probably added about 1 mile to our overall hike with this little detour.

The Essentials

You might be a seasoned pro at backpacking and not need a list. For me, this was my first trip. I had a backpack – it was the one I had trekked all through New Zealand, Europe, and Peru – and that was it. It’s a little small compared to some traditional backpacking backpacks – 46L – but I am just over 5’, and when that thing is stuffed, it’s heavy for me. Outside of my backpack and hiking clothes, I didn’t own anything needed for backpacking. I borrowed a sleeping bag from a friend. I opted for her warmer bag because I get cold easily, and we were going to be camping high in the Sierra. I didn’t have a stove, so I brought food that didn’t require heat. I packed tortillas, peanut butter, nuts, jerky, protein bars, and a couple of Mountain House’s freeze-dried meal Granola with Blueberries and Milk – just add cold water. One of my friends brought his Jet Boil and ended up trading me one of my Granola meals for a Steak and Pepper meal. It was pretty tasty, but then again anything is pretty tasty after a 10-mile hike carrying a 15 lb. backpack. I also brought a tarp to sleep on that night (I didn’t own a tent, nor would a tent fit in my backpack). However, one of my friends brought a tent but didn’t care to sleep in it, so he let me borrow it. I also packed an ultra-lightweight sleeping pad (borrowed), and whatever toiletries or clothes I thought I needed. Lucky for me, my friends had packed the playing cards and the whiskey.

Do pack extra socks! The last thing you want is your feet to develop blisters on this long trek, so a fresh pair of socks is mandatory! Also mandatory is water. I brought 4 water bottles. I did not bring a filtration system because the campground had potable water (and lots of bees, but that’s beside the point).

I don’t have a packing list for backpacking to share with you (though I most likely will end up creating one), but if you have any thoughts or questions about what to bring, or what life is like on the TRT either leave me a comment below or tweet me at @keeliec5. I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time…..

Cheers!

Keelie

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