Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tahoe Rim Trail: Day 10

September 10, 2011: Slept good during the night, and hit the trail first thing in the morning. Filled up my water bottles at a creek in the North Canyon Campground and began the climb back to the trail. Before leaving, one of the scoutmasters gave me a bottle of Desani water after he saw me filling up at the creek. He didn't realize that I prefer the mountain creek water over anything else the modern world could provide, but I appreciate his kind gesture nonetheless.

The trail quickly became quite scenic, one of the prettier sections along the entire rim. Great views of Tahoe and purple lupine blooming everywhere. I saw a deer eating breakfast along the hillside. It was an excellent morning to be hiking.

Down below, I could see many mountain bikers riding up a fire road.

Eventually, I met a woman with a walkie talkie and we talked for a while. As it turned out, there was a mountain bike race taking place along a portion of the TRT. On this section of trail, mountain bikers are allowed to ride on even numbered days. "Damn," I thought, "This is a Saturday as well."

Soon enough, mountain bikers began to appear one by one, although these were not the race participants as far as I could tell. I stepped off the trail to let each one pass.

This became the theme for the rest of the afternoon. I counted 50 mountain bikers in 33 minutes at one point and then stopped counting.

I began to think about what St. Rick said the day before. Perhaps this was similar to what he experienced coming through here. At first, it was tolerable. I'd just stop hiking, step off the trail, let the bikers pass, and then continue onward and try not to breathe in too much trail dust. Truth be told, it eventually turned into a nuisance.

(Golden eagle above)

I will say, 99.9% of the mountain bikers were extremely gracious, shouting a "Thank you!" as they passed. There were a couple of times where I had just a split second to jump off the trail as someone came bolting down the trail, one incident in particular that really pissed me off. Otherwise, like mosquitoes, this was an annoyance that had to be tolerated as kindly as possible.

As anyone who backpacks knows, sometimes it isn't easy to start the hiking engine back up after you stop for a few seconds. Having to do this over and over had the same sensation on the brain like being stuck in rush hour traffic. Despite this, several hawks were doing aerial acrobatics along the eastern side of the mountains. It was a joy to watch them. I even saw a golden eagle that was just enormous. He had caught something in his talons, caught a thermal, dropped the item, and then dove down to snatch it back out of the air.

Storm clouds began to congregate as the afternoon wore on. Thunder could be heard bouncing off the mountains. The miles quickly disappeared and I only had a few more to go before this trip would be over. It started to sprinkle as I entered Tahoe Meadows and I could see my car sitting in the lot about a mile away.

Around 4:00pm I reached the Tahoe Meadows trail head where I started this hike nine days ago. While packing up my car, I met three guys from San Francisco who had just finished a 20 mile trail run. They come out once a year and run a portion of the TRT. The four of us tailgated for an hour or so and drank a celebratory beer together. I decided to spend one more night in the vehicle rather than drive home that night. I really wanted to see the Sierra in the morning as I drove back home to the west, and was in no hurry to leave the area. I felt a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that evening, thankful for another trek into the Sierra. This trip, although only 9 days, was filled with lessons, and things to think about and process.

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