The WildeBeat

The audio journal about getting into the wilderness.


The WildeBeat edition 59: All Around Lake Tahoe, part 2

This is a supplementary transcript of our audio program. CLICK HERE to listen to the original program, and see the associated show notes.

The Lake Tahoe area on the California-Nevada border is famous for skiing, resorts, and casinos. But there's a bypass around all of that. This week on The WildeBeat, All Around Lake Tahoe, part 2.

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News from the Wildebeat, the audio journal about getting into the wilderness.

This is program number fifty nine.

I'm Steve Sergeant.

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STEVE: I'm on a dock on Echo Lake, California. Steve Andersen, the president of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association, is about to lead his group on the second half of their twenty fifth anniversary through hike.

STEVE ANDERSEN: This trail is just phenomenal. It has so many different views of Lake Tahoe, and of the basin itself, and on the outside of the basin because it is a rim trail. So as an example, when you're walking on the east side of the trail, you get a chance to look down into the Washoe and the Carson Valley area, and almost at the same time being able to look into the Tahoe basin. ...You just can't beat that opportunity to see such an array of backcountry from a beautiful vantage point.

STEVE: Sixteen backpackers wave good bye from the boat. They hiked about eighty miles so far, to get to this point. The next leg of their journey will take them north into the Desolation Wilderness.

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STEVE: Steve and his party completed their hike on September forth. I followed-up with a few of them to find out how the rest of the trip turned out. Nicole Anderson was the youngest member of the party.

NICOLE ANDERSON: Well, that boat ride was pretty nice. And ...we asked Steve if there was a way to take a boat for the rest of the 60 miles we had remaining.... But it was beautiful, and when we got to the dock, then we started a pretty intense climb up to Aloha Lake.

STEVE: And Gary Hanneman was the eldest member.

GARY HANNEMAN: We went on into the Desolation Wilderness there further on the southwest and west sides of Lake Tahoe... And we started climbing fairly rapidly in the granite after we got off the boat, just down the lake there a bit. And we had some beautiful views looking back at the lake, and realized it was actually receding fairly rapidly as we gained altitude, and went north.

NICOLE ANDERSON: And it was all that loose granite rock, and so it was pretty hard to walk on, but it was beautiful. I think that once we got to Aloha Lake that was one of my favorite places that we stayed for overnight, and that was the first night that I decided to not sleep in a tent. And I ended up picking a really bad spot. Instead of just on flat granite I picked a spot where there was grass around me and so I woke up and there was not just dew but frost all over my sleeping bag... So I had to pack it up wet but at lunch that day I aired it out to dry. And it was freezing cold that night but the stars were amazing, and Aloha Lake was gorgeous. It was unlike anything I'd ever seen, and it was -- it reminded me of something that could have been prehistoric times. I kept expecting a dinosaur to kind of cruise on through at any moment.

GARY HANNEMAN: A lake with a lot of rounded granite boulders in it... We had that and a spectacular views of the high granite mountains just west of the lake. Especially at sunrise. The sunrise was on the mountains, we were still in the dark down at the lake... Just an experience -- wow! The sight of several thousand feet of exposed mountain taking the golden sunlight of morning... And the still water reflecting between the giant granite boulders that are characteristic of the Desolation Wilderness, all through the water it was quite a sight. Unique; I've not experienced that anywhere else.

NICOLE ANDERSON: And we swam in Aloha Lake. It was warm; pretty shallow. And it was just beautiful, there were all these different rock islands on it... but Aloha Lake really offers a whole different vista, so I loved that one. And then also, Aloha Lake was one of the nights that we didn't have volunteers cater our meals. And as much as I enjoyed that service that they did and all the delicious food, I also really enjoyed the nights when it was just us 15 hikers and we had to do everything on our own... And I thought those nights, they were calmer and I usually wrote more in my journal on those nights. And it was fun. And you actually feel like you're out backpacking. When it's kind of disillusioning when people come with all that delicious food and beer and deserts. As great as it is, I really enjoy the minimalist backpacking experience as well.

GARY HANNEMAN: We closed camp, took everything with us we brought in, and were gone before sunrise, basically, and we were heading for 19 miles that day. It was not, however, flat, mountain hiking never is, and we had the inclusion of a high pass with incredible views and snow to go through on that next day. That was over Dick's Pass.... Desolation I think refers to the fact that there aren't any trees a lot of the time. Very few and a lot of rock, a lot of exposed rock.

STEVE: Nicole Anderson had to adapt to a different pace of life on the trail.

NICOLE ANDERSON: It was a big challenge for me on those long days in the wilderness when I felt I had run out of ideas. I felt that my mind had kind of emptied. And that's not something that I usually allow to happen so I had to first accept that. And I think I was able to do that by singing a lot. I held back behind everyone and just started singing. And at one point I asked to borrow somebody's walking sticks that they weren't using, just to have something else to concentrate on. And there was another point where I wanted to go faster, but I didn't know where to go. So I had to wait for everyone to go ahead of me and then I'd kind of run down the mountain just again to have more stimulation because it was hard mentally to not have -- I feel like I didn't have anything to think about. And then eventually I learned to accept it because it really is meditation, to clear your mind like that.

STEVE: After the section in the Desolation Wilderness, the trail descends to the outskirts of Tahoe City. Gary Hanneman was happy to get through that section quickly.

GARY HANNEMAN: I think as much as anything we were yearning to be back out in the wilderness. And we had to walk through people and there were some cars there briefly we had to dodge crossing at one place on the Truckee ...River. But we did not go into town, there's a crossing bridge was a pedestrian bridge it was a little bit out of town and so that was good, you know a quarter mile, half mile, or something. So we were able to move over to the trailhead that went north readily without an excess of traffic or people. Just dodging those few cars was different experience on that one road by that pedestrian bridge. It was, yeah, no, back to the wilderness, we were ready, instantly.

STEVE: So what were your observations, what were your feelings when you got to the end?

GARY HANNEMAN: It was almost like just another stop. It was interesting. Like another night to camp out. We got there, of course, at the, at mid day, but ...we could have continued... So it was not an anticipation, like somebody might think, "Oh, we're finally there!" Or we've done this or we've done that. That wasn't the feeling that I felt. It would have been easy to continue. We were conditioned. We had become well trail conditioned.

NICOLE ANDERSON: It's such an amazing thing to get out there and see the world from a different perspective, and to see the world without streets and stop lights and cars and buildings. And it's a great experience to know that you can survive through not only much more than you thought you could, but with much less than you thought you needed. And I think that for someone of any age, it really helps you to appreciate all the things that we do have, and then I think it allows you to be really creative and imaginative in your assessment of the world and maybe what you want to do to change it, or improve it, when you can see it naked almost. ...When it hasn't been tainted by the touuch of humans... So I think that I would encourage anyone and everyone to spend time outdoors.

STEVE: Steve Andersen says he's proud of the whole group.

STEVE ANDERSEN: I tell you, it was extremely successful hike... it was very exciting because... Doing a hundred sixty five miles in ten an a half days it pretty aggressive for many people. And they performed wonderfully, and all the way to the end. They did really well. I do have to say they were tired when they got done, and there was a couple times when a couple people struggled over some passes. But we got it. We made it, and they made it, and they're extremely happy, and everybody is elated that they accomplished something that for many of them was a dream of theirs for wanting to do for many years. So, it was very cool.

NICOLE ANDERSON: The most wonderful thing was just being outdoors, not being under a roof or in a car and witnessing all the beauty that is in the Tahoe Rim Trail. All of the views and the feeling of accomplishment... the Tahoe Rim Trail specifically is amazing because on so many points of the trail you can see where you've been, where you're going to go... And to just encircle it, to walk around it it feels really great. I really appreciate the depth and connection that I got from walking around the Tahoe Rim Trail.

STEVE: You can find out more about the Tahoe Rim Trail, and download a high-fidelity stereo version of this show, on our web site.

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Next time — Lightweight Shelters.

The Wildebeat is produced by Steve Sergeant, with help from Jean Higham, as a public service of Effable Communications. Our official website is WWW dot WILDEBEAT (that's W-I-L-D-E-B-E-A-T) dot NET. Please see our website for ways to support future editions of The WildeBeat. Contribute your comments to webmaster at wildebeat dot net, or call our comment line at 866-590-7373.

This has been The Wildebeat, program number fifty nine. Thank you for listening.

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