About Me

I’m a California-based voice & visual artist. I immerse myself in creative adventure by exploring multiple genres, styles, and forms in my writing and art. I also make short films. ❤️robots.

Tahoe Trekker: Hike the TRT to PCT!

I explore the Tahoe Rim Trail and remember the Pony Express riders of the nineteenth century...

Tahoe Rim Trailhead at Kings Beach in North Lake Tahoe, California

Downtime from routine is important. Our hearts need to take on small adventures allowing our lungs to rejuvenate by having room to breathe. Take a break, walk in your dreams. Now that will provide fuel for the future! It works for me. So, I left the stress of daily life behind and went on a quest triggered by childhood memories. This piece originally appeared on the MyDestination.com main page (which is now MyGuide Network) in August 2013.

What's your favorite place to hike?

Echo Lake trail TRT/PCT, west of Freel Peak

I hit the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) for moderate to advanced hiking. It intersects the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) made famous by Cheryl Strayed in Wild (a book I completely loved, by the way).

I find it invigorating to be on top of the world. The Sierra Nevada mountain range is spectacular. The highest summit just south of Lake Tahoe is Freel Peak. At 10,891 feet (3,320 meters) above sea level, the rocky point rises over the expansive lake and the many surrounding smaller bodies of water.

Downtime from routine is essential. Our hearts need to take on small adventures allowing our lungs to rejuvenate by having room to breathe. Take a break, walk in your dreams. Now that will provide fuel for the future! It works for me. So, I left the stress of daily life behind and went on a quest triggered by childhood memories.

Pony Express statue in front of Harrah's Casino Resort at South Lake Tahoe

Part of the fun of being an adult is pursuing youthful fantasies. In sixth grade for an art assignment, I drew images of a Pony Express rider on horseback racing along a trail. These wiry riders delivered letters in about ten days between St. Joseph, Missouri through the dangerous and unsettled wilderness to Sacramento, California. In 1860 this was an astounding accomplishment.

After school, I’d hop on my pony and gallop bareback imagining myself to be an official Pony Express rider for the Central Overland & Pikes Peak Express Company. We’d head out to the woods, dashing along full tilt, racing down trails packed smooth by wild animals. (Black bears roamed near my house, frequently leaving footprints through my yard.) I pretended to be one of those frontier history makers carrying precious letters filled with news, love, and some secrets.

Today I’m in pursuit of the actual path that the riders used, risking their lives to deliver the mail. Much of the trail is under or near main roads such as Highway 50.

South Lake Tahoe where the TRT, PCT, and Pony Express trails overlap

The TRT is a 165-mile circle surrounding Lake Tahoe. There is a club for those dedicated few who walk, hike, mountain bike, climb, or go it on horseback. The excursion could take a couple of weeks straight of camping to join the 165 Mile Club. This adventure is not a one-size-fits-all. It can be anything you want: a smidge of the TRT, the whole thing, or branch off to the PCT.

The TRT is only a bite, a big one though, compared to Cheryl Strayed’s 1,100-mile PCT trek. For a short stretch, the two trails follow the same route, which presents a unique opportunity to walk on both at the same time. My hikes are a sampler’s taste of the TRT. In my opinion, some of the world’s most heart-stirring views are from the 165-mile (266-kilometer) Tahoe Rim Trail.

The well-trodden paths are available to hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers (note: only about 50% are open to bikers). Trail courtesy dictates bikers must yield to hikers and equestrians. Wilderness permits required in some areas. Check out Tahoe.com for three hikes: beginner, intermediate, advanced. Leave no trace when exploring the trails. This means “if you bring it in, you take it out.” Be prepared to tote out your toilet, too.

Safety is serious. Animals and insects make this place home, of course. Avoid middle-of-the-day exertion and dehydration. Bring water no matter how short the planned hike might be! Remember your hat and sunscreen. The high UV index at elevation is no joke.

TRT looking southeast from North Lake Tahoe; King's Beach access point

When starting out at the northern shore, fuel up with a burrito at Truckee’s Tacos Jalisco.

Lake Tahoe—the vast blue expanse of the water radiates a life force feeling like a magnetic pull as you traverse the ridge. The area consists of and is surrounded by state parks and National Forest Service Land. Put one foot in front of the other. Notice the way uneven rocks and dirt under your feet differ from the smooth, level concrete of a sidewalk. Hard-soled hiking boots are a good option. I’m wearing running shoes, not the best choice when the trail gets rough.

I’m going with my ability and time. The important thing is to get out there, reach for the skies, rock your shoulders back, open your chest, and take a deep inhale. Exhale. Our time on the planet is too short to be so immersed in mundane rituals that life zooms by not in days but years, and even decades before you know it. Get your perspective. Adjust and recharge your inner self.

After the hike, refuel with refreshments at Bridgetender or try some “good for you comfort food” at Spoon.

The TRT is one of those take-it-in-sections adventures for me. I’m on foot today, will mountain bike in the near future, and on horseback, Pony Express style, sometime soon.

This non-profit organization is all about the Tahoe Rim Trail: tahoerimtrail.org
Recommended guidebook: Tahoe Rim Trail: The Official Guide For Hikers, Mountain Bikers and Equestrians
or “50 Things to Do in Tahoe This Summer

TRT, North Lake Tahoe

For more of my posts:
Tahoe Trekker: Gangster Paddling!
 Writer's Bucket List: Travel-Writing Wings On!
my posts on travel and travel writing

Alonna is a nature-loving writer who utilizes her background in theatre, film, and television. Her debut novel, Eleven Sundays, is a heartwarming contemporary story of Annie's quarter-life crisis spurring her into a transformational journey from what she thought she should be to who she needed to become.
Photo credits: Alonna Shaw

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