In the past, I have always driven to my backpacking destinations. Dealing with getting from the airport to the trail, picking up stove fuel and the like always seemed like more hassle than the drive. Last year, after driving from Cincinnati to Vermont (twice) for the Long Trail and California for the JMT, I began to reconsider. The Tahoe Rim Trail, which is a 170 mile circle and an easy shuttle from the Reno, NV airport seemed like a good one to try. With some research, I found that the town of Tahoe City has a hotel and an “outdoor” store within walking distance of the trail. The hotel, an America’s Best Value Inn, was a shuttle stop, actually wasn’t a bad value and would hold a bag of clean clothes for me while I hiked. Sold! I bought my plane ticket (about $350) for September 7. The initial plan was to hike the trail in 11 days, but I gave myself up to 13 days to hike before my return flight.
After a 2 ½ hour flight to Dallas and another 3 ½ to Reno, the plane began to drop into a dry and brown desert. I started to worry that my pack might end up heavier than the low 30s I was planning on.
My pack and I arrived in one piece at about 1 pm. I was carrying an almost new Osprey Exos 58. (Thanks to Osprey for replacing my old one, which began to deteriorate after about 1,500 trail miles, under warranty.) After an hour-long shuttle I was checked in at the hotel with the afternoon free to make final preparations and explore.
My first stop was Alpenglow outdoor store, right down the street. There I got some stove fuel, friendly service and a big load of concern. The guy at the counter said he thought the trail was dry for 50 miles past Watson Lake (my first night stop). Crap! Fifty miles is a helluva long way to carry water. That much weight in my pack could be a backbreaker for me. (In case you’re wondering, long sections of the TRT are nowhere near Lake Tahoe. It’s not like I would be able to dip a cup in the lake whenever I got thirsty.)
I made a phone call to the Tahoe Rim Trail Association and they confirmed that their website was correct; the trail was dry, but not that dry. There would be water where I was planning on it. Whew. It was definitely time to head to the Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company to settle my nerves and have a late lunch.
Not being a huge fan of heavy, craft beers, I asked the barmaid what they had that was close to Bud Light. Her reply was, “We have water,” but she gave me a sample of a brew that worked. The TRT website warned that sweat bees were thick around the northern part of the trail. Perhaps it was not a good omen that I got stung in the back while sitting at the bar.
I spent the rest of the day checking out the beautiful lake, walking to the trail (1/2 mile) and repacking the pack. Dropping off a small case of clean clothes at the front desk and a Mexican dinner next door at the Blue Agave completed all my tasks. There was nothing left to do but wait until morning and start walking.