The Tahoe Rim Trail encircling Lake Tahoe is typically hiked in the summer and fall — on dirt and, most often, in sections.
Peter Sporleder of the North Shore of Lake Tahoe launched his two-week through-hike the last week of March, and rather than boots and dirt, his M.O. was skis and snow. Some challenges he surmounted were constantly changing weather, navigating through low visibility, unpredictable snow and acquiring his daily needs in water directly from the environment.
“I expected to achieve more miles per day more easily,” Sporleder said, “but the snow could be solid one step and bottomless the next — advancing 10 miles became a day-long task.”
The weather proved fickle too — a clear sunrise often became the typical blustery day, on occasion in less than a half-hour.
Of 15 days, only four could be described as “nice days.” Thankfully, one of those occurred summiting Freel Peak and Job’s Sister. Climbing the steep ridges, rocks, and snowfields was exciting enough with the 50-pound pack with skis attached.
Other “high points” of the trip included a night’s stay at the top of Stanford Rock, passing over Watson Peak, Lost Corner Mountain and watching the sunset from Snow Valley Peak when “I really, really should have been looking for a protected, windless campsite, down there somewhere in the trees,” Sporleder said.
The near-gale-force winds were joined by low visibility the next morning, prompting a pause to wait for navigable conditions.
Considering the unexpectedly slow pace, other peaks were bypassed in favor of actually completing the TRT in the allotted time and food frame. Food provisions were virtually depleted by each food drop. Adding a peak would have made for a very hungry hiker.
Each evening’s campfire warmed toes, dried socks and made for those essential hot-tea “ahhh” moments. The enticing ambiance of fire also helped reduce the impossible 10 hours of sack time.
Food. Decades of outdoor experience have tuned Sporleder’s selection. Topping the list is his “trail cakes” — combination chocolate chip cookie baked in cupcake tins, resulting in a sturdy, irresistible snack.
Overall the trip was more work than anticipated (Sporleder suggests waiting for dirt/solid ground), the gear selection was perfectly appropriate and performed excellently, and, Sporleder said, “thank God for trail angels and cameras that remind you of the great moments.”
Soon after this adventure, Sporleder was off to Shasta Lake for a week of kayamping — and more great memories.