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Tahoe Rim Trail is celebrating its silver anniversary

Jack Carrerow
Chad Lundquist / Tahoe Daily Tribune file / John McKenna shows proper chainsaw technique to Tahoe Rim Trail volunteers last year.
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The Tahoe Rim Trail is a lot of things to a lot of people. For some, it’s about exercise. To others, it’s about getting away from it all and getting back to nature. To Steve Andersen, the Tahoe Rim Trail is his life saver.

Diagnosed with a gall bladder disease years ago, Andersen was told by his doctor he could either have his gall bladder removed or he could die.

The former Bay Area resident chose hiking instead.

“I thought there had to be an alternative solution,” Andersen, 56, said. “It was after getting myself in shape and hiking the trail that I pretty much cured myself.”

Andersen, now the Tahoe Rim Trail Association president, has a lot to celebrate.

So does the Tahoe Rim Trail Association itself.

On Saturday, the volunteer, nonprofit organization established in 1981 to plan, construct, and maintain the trail will celebrate its 25th anniversary in conjunction with National Trails Day.

This 165-mile, twenty-four inch, single-track trail is open to hiking, equestrians and mountain biking (in most areas) and encompasses the ridge tops of the Lake Tahoe Basin, crossing six counties and two states.

Andersen, who holds the record for number of times hiking the trail at six, also holds another distinction.

“I was the first person to hike the trail completely,” he said. “It took 19 days, but I’ve improved my times since then. In fact, I’ll be guiding a group in the next few weeks and we’re planning to do it in 11 days.”

While 11 days seems fast to some, the record for circumnavigating the 165-mile route is a tad faster.

“The record for a male set by Tim Tweitmeyer is 45 hours and 50 minutes and the record for a woman was set by Truckee resident Betsy Nye and is 55 hours and two minutes,” Andersen said. “Obviously they were running.”

President of TRTA since January and a board member for the past five years, Andersen said he enjoys showing people the trail.

“For me, walking the trail has been really a life altering experience and I really love bringing people up there and showing it to them,” he said. “It’s got a great allure for me.”

It had the same effect on TRTA board member Tim Houserman, so he wrote a book about it, “The Tahoe Rim Trail, The Complete Guide for Hikers, Mountain Bikers and Equestrians.”

“I was on the board when the trail was just about completed,” Houserman said. “Someone mentioned that maybe someone should write a guide book and I figured, why not me?”

The book gives tips for the hike, describes points of interest and offers Houserman’s own impressions of the trail and the hike.

TRTA executive director Mark Kimbrough, who spent several years as the head ranger at Sand Harbor State Park, takes pride in his work on the trail years ago.

“I used to take people up in the early days and helped lay out some of the trail,” Kimbrough said. “I’m a Nevada boy, so I’ve hiked this side hundreds of times.”

Kimbrough said that there is a distinct difference between the topography of the California portion of the trail versus the Nevada side.

“The Nevada portions of the trail take you closer to the lake and offer several more views of the lake,” Kimbrough said. “The California side offers views of granite cliffs and the Desolation Wilderness. The trail has several unique and varied views. That’s why it’s such a great hike.”

According to Kimbrough, the trail owes its existence to three main factions.

“To me, it’s a triangle that is comprised of TRTA membership/donors, land management agencies and most importantly, the volunteers,” he said. “They are really the most important aspect to the trail being what it is today and what it will continue to be.”


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