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100th man makes it around Tahoe Rim Trail

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune

After trekking the 165 miles of the Tahoe Rim Trail, Paul Galli, 27, lined up a plate of chicken wings, a shot of Jagermeister and a bottle of beer at the Bridgetender in Tahoe City.

Two weeks ago, the West Shore land surveyor for Auerbach Engineering became the hundredth person to complete the trail that circles Lake Tahoe.

“It definitely feels like 165 miles when you go around it,” he said.



Galli trained for the 10-day trek by hiking 10 miles a week in the month before the trip, considered a test in logistics and endurance.

He started the trek in his hometown of Tahoe City and headed south.



Four days and 68 miles into the trip, a friend delivered six days worth of supplies where the trail meets the Highway 89 turnoff. He called her from the Echo Lakes Chalet the day before to give her a heads up of when he and his traveling buddy, Jason Stezes of Tahoma, Calif, would arrive at Big Meadow — the dropoff point.

Galli, whose backpack weighed between 40 to 50 pounds, ate the freeze-dried, pre-packaged meals over the 16-mile days on the average. His favorite was fettuccine.

“At the end of the day, we didn’t care what we ate,” he said.

Galli used the trek to take in the views of the lake, plant identification and wildlife spotting. He saw chipmunks, deer and various birds along the way.

At Echo Lakes, the duo encountered hikers from Georgia and Tennessee trying to complete the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,000-mile route that runs down the spine of California and occasionally crosses or intersects with the Rim Trail.

The Rim Trail represented a bit of a trekking breeze for the former Eagle Scout, with the exception of days of thunder as the two men made their way north on the East Shore.

“The thunderstorms were chasing us. We were afraid we’d get caught out on those ridges,” Galli said. The two men took refuge from the storms at Tahoe Meadows.

There were other nagging challenges.

On Galli’s Rim Trail map, he named a West Shore section south of Barker Pass “mosquito hell.” Just south of there at Aloha Lakes, a notation on the map marks Stezes “big toe surgery.” Being less than halfway in their journey, the men pulled out the moleskin to treat the blisters.

Northwest of Mount Baldy, Galli lamented over mistakenly veering off the trail onto a U.S. Forest Service road that crosses it.

Despite the obstacles that come with the territory of taking this type of trip, the scenery and Mother Nature’s call for sunsets made the journey enjoyable to Galli.

“I was surprised it went so smoothly. I figured that, with 165 miles, something was bound to happen,” he said.

Since the trail officially opened in September 2001, 30 people have completed it, Shannon Raborn of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association reported. The group has tracked the 100 trekkers since 1998.

Beyond the regional hikers from the Lake Tahoe Basin, Reno and Carson City, others have come as far away as Georgia, Colorado and Oregon.

Some people like Steve Andersen of Zephyr Cove use the trek as training for the PCT and the John Muir Trail.

Andersen, the first reported trekker, is so “hooked” on the Tahoe Rim Trail, he’s coming out in winter with a book about the experience. It’s called “Tahoe Rim Trail: Adventures and a Guide Book.”

He’s also soon publishing a rectangular map that indicates the elevation gain.

“It’s the most diverse trail I’ve ever been on. There’s almost always a beautiful view of something,” the graphic designer said.

The Rim Trail wasn’t uneventful for Andersen though.

“The first challenge was water. No one had done it before, so we didn’t know where the water sources were,” he said of his trek with buddy Art Presser.

He carried two gallons in his 47-pound backpack. The water alone took up a third of the weight.

Those who complete the Tahoe Rim Trail with an association membership receive two patches and a signed certificate.


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