Tahoe Knows Hospitality!

On the windy summit of Snow Peak- 9,214 feet!

After enjoying an all you can eat BBQ in the tiny Nevada town of Middlegate, I paid for my first night of camping in over a week at Lahotan State Park in western Nevada. $15 is a little steep, but I was more than ready for a shower. You know you’re fast approaching road trip asceticism when a 10-minute, $2.00 coin-operated state park shower feels like a luxurious eternity.

The next morning, I got out my atlas and realized I was right near Lake Tahoe, a place I’d only seen once before in the winter. A quick search on the Tahoe Rim Trail webpage and I was all set for the day: a 12-mile out-and-back hike from Spooner Pass up more than 2,000 feet of elevation to the summit of Snow Peak.

Bowie on the still snowy Tahoe Rim Trail

The Tahoe Rim Trail is a 165-mile hiking path that goes around the entire lake, following the ridge lines high above the blue, blue water. As with all long distance trails, the more miles I hiked, the more I felt like I could do the whole thing. Long distance trails (AT/ CDT/ PCT) are always my Plan Z. If all else fails in my crazy life, I’ll just go for a hike. Maybe that’s why I’m not afraid of failing. Plan Z sounds pretty great! One of these days…

Bowie loves snow!

After the hike, only a little tired (I try to do a 10-plus miler once a week to keep up my stamina) I decided to head down to the lake to see if I could find some free camping. Silly me. Tahoe is a pretty ritzy place and the many campsites along the water run $30 a night. No thanks.

So I went back to the trailhead. Since the TRT is a long-distance trail and people often head out for overnighters, cars can be left at the trailhead for days. There were no “No Camping” signs and I stayed for two nights, hiking on the TRT and working in the Teardrop.

Ladybug hatch at the summit of Snow Peak

The TRT trailhead turned out to be a great place to meet fellow travelers! On my first day, a local who introduced himself as Tahoe Ted stopped by to ask me about the Teardrop. We got to talking and it turned out he was a ski-mountaineer. I plied him for mountain tips and gave him one of my Blonde Coyote cards and he asked if I was in need of some hospitality – a home-cooked meal, a shower, a place to park my Teardrop. Absolutely!

Summit register! A peanut butter jar inside two coffee cans, inside a concrete cinderblock on top of the summit cairn.

One of my Blonde Coyote cards inside the summit register

A little while later, a woman stopped by with her son, again to ask about the Teardrop (I told you it’s a great conversation starter) and she too invited me to dinner. Just like that, I was booked for home-cooked meals two nights in a row! Tahoe knows hospitality!

Ted ended up taking me for an awesome hike in his “backyard” — Squaw Valley ski resort, a world-famous mountain, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. Despite having spent the past 25 winters skiing Squaw’s epically steep slopes, Ted had never gone for a hike on the mountain in the summer. Even relatively snow-free, he really did know that mountain like the back of his hand and gave me a great tour on our way up Shirley Canyon to Shirley Lake.

Dio swimming in Shirley Lake below Granite Chief

The hike was plenty epic: 8-miles out and back up 1,500 feet of very rocky elevation, but Ted kept suggesting off trail routes up the impassible-looking slopes to intersect with some of his favorite ski trails. I hope when I’m 69 years old like Tahoe Ted, I still have that kind of off trail ambition!

Tahoe Ted leading me through his big backyard. You can see one of Squaw Valley’s big black buildings ahead in the distance.

Between hiking with Ted and dinner with Lisa and her family, I now feel like Tahoe is one of my home bases on the road. Amazing how you can visit a place on a whim, stay for a week and meet some great new friends! Thanks for the hospitality, Tahoe! I’ll be back! 🙂

Admiring one of Shirley Creek’s many waterfalls with Bowie and Tahoe Ted

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently based in western Colorado. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, skiing, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at www.marycapertonmorton.com.
This entry was posted in Bowie & D.O.G., Hiking!, Photography, Road tripping!, Uncategorized, Vagabonding 101. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Tahoe Knows Hospitality!

  1. ritaroberts says:

    Yet another wonderful post. I love your adventures. Many thanks for sharing them with us

  2. from old surfer dude that been around!! keep living the dream. an when you get old like me you will always have your memorys.travel in happness an go in peace my fellow traveler. gary green

  3. Nilu says:

    I wish I was traveling around right now. The city life is suffocating me. Bye the way, your coyote isn’t really bond, is it? 🙂

  4. Wynne says:

    One of my favorite places, thanks! Oh, and like your wrist adornment ;<)

  5. Noel says:

    Awesome pics. That water looks COLD.

  6. mostraum says:

    Great pictures and writing. Love your evolution/Darwin fish tattoo. 🙂

  7. When I think of Nevada, I think hot and dry! I was surprised to see your snow photos!

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