If you’ve been fortunate enough to visit Lake Tahoe, you know of what I speak when I say it can’t be summed up with a few unworthy descriptors.  Sitting majestically in the Sierra Mountains, Lake Tahoe is simply stunning with the bluest – and coldest – water you can imagine.

It was the place of my childhood.  My father’s office building nestled up to the beach at the south end of the lake and I grew up in Carson Valley on the Nevada side of the lake.  Many a summer day was spent playing on the beach, but rarely did I wade into the water much deeper than my ankles as the water is notoriously cold.

Just 10 months after walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain, my monkey sister and her husband felt compelled to hike the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail – you know, because walking 500 miles across Spain wasn’t enough!

As soon as I knew they were going to make the trek, I knew I’d want to share their story.  If it wasn’t for the fact that hiking the Tahoe Rim Trail requires one to sleep in a tent, on the ground, I’d be game for taking it on, but a camper I am not.  Give me a hot shower and a bed at the end of each day.  My monkey sister is much more adventurous than I.

And with that being said, here’s their story as told by Roxanne…

Ten months ago when we walked the 500-mile Camino in Spain, our new European friends asked us if we’d done any hiking in the United States because some of them had; we had not.  Their question planted a seed and a plan began to grow. We decided to start with the Tahoe Rim Trail since we are currently living just a stone’s throw from the lake.  As luck would have it, and to drive home the point of how small the world actually is, one of our Camino friends met us at our Echo Lake resupply point and hiked with us for two days in the Desolation Wilderness.

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We began our hike at Tahoe Meadows on the summer solstice. At dusk on that first day a nudie-cutie hiked passed us and we learned June 21st is hike naked day. Kind of glad we didn’t know about that! It took us 16 days to backpack the 165-mile “through-hike” of the Tahoe Rim Trail hiking full circle back to Tahoe Meadows.

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We put together three boxes of dehydrated meals and delivered the boxes to our trail angels.  We learned people who resupply you are called trail angels.  On average we hiked 10 to 12 miles each day. Every fourth day, at a designated spot, our trail angels would meet us and deliver our resupply box. On one of our designated resupply days, our trail angels surprised us with a picnic blanket spread with fresh fruit, fresh salad, hummus and crackers, chicken, homemade cookies, wine and beer.  Made us cry the surprise was so good.  We had three perfect resupplies because our trail angels were the absolute best!

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At the end of every day I’d say the scenery can’t get any better and tomorrow I won’t take so many pictures. I snapped 1,600 photos. The Tahoe Rim Trail’s ascent and descent adds up to about 27,000 feet.  Whew! The volume and majesty of the scenery is crazy and the carpets of wildflowers are nuts.  The weather was gentle on us and it never got too hot.  We had quite the thrill hiking through a rain storm and booming thunder on the Fourth of July.  While walking I’d look over at my husband and feel pretty fortunate we were able to be on this hike.

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I couldn’t help but compare certain points on the Tahoe Rim Trail with the Camino. I liked the infrastructure of the Camino.  You know, each day we’d walk to a bed and shower. Then in the morning we’d walk a couple of hours and stop at a bar for a tortilla breakfast. This was my first multi-day backpacking trip and I missed my bed.  However, my first night home I woke up at midnight feeling a little cooped-up. Without disturbing my husband I quietly slipped outside for a few breaths of fresh air.  I missed the mountains.

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As with any new experience, I look for moments of learning.  While walking the Tahoe Rim Trail, I learned the ancestors of the Washoe Native Americans who lived in surrounding area called Lake Tahoe “Da ow” and the early European explores mispronounced “Da ow” as Tahoe.  I learned I like to walk and take pictures.  I learned you don’t give your real name on the trail; people give you trail names.  My husband, Darrell, was named “Treasure” because he found treasures along the way.  I was named “Snap” because I was always snapping pictures.  I learned if I’m going to do another long multi-day backpacking hike I have to be willing to be disgustingly filthy. And I learned uphill hikers always have the right of way.

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Physically the hike was hard.  Mentally it was wonderful.  Apparently, this hiking thing has taken hold of us because we’re already thinking about the next trek.  Got any suggestions for us?

A few items we found most hopeful included:

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