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Still Time to ‘Fall’ into Your 2015 Sierra Adventure Bucket List

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

Autumn is making its presence felt over the Sierra, but Tahoe Mountain Sports ambassador Coral Rose Taylor says there still is time to do many of those summer-like adventures before the snow flies.

So with fall here, Coral is re-evaluating those activities and checking her gear bag to see what she can check off her 2015 Bucket List.

Hiking in Yosmite.

Hiking in Yosmite.

Hiking: Being lucky enough to live in the mountains, I sometimes take these geographic formations for granted. However, any time I’m lucky enough to get on the trail for a hike, I re-connect with myself, with nature, with a different perspective on time.

Here are some of the hikes I would love to do this autumn:

Tallac – An iconic Lake Tahoe hike, which I am embarrassed to admit I have not yet done, even though I’ve lived in Truckee/Tahoe for 13 years now. The challenge will be to do this before the snow flies.

Rose – Another local favorite that I haven’t yet put foot on. I’ve hiked parts of it, and around the Mt. Rose meadows, but haven’t made it to the summit proper yet.

Boundary Peak – As a native Nevadan, I feel like I owe it to myself to summit the Silver State’s highest peak. If the weather holds, I’m thinking it would be fitting to do this on Nevada Day, observed on October 30, aka Halloween Eve. This will require an extra day; with a timeline that will account for driving down 395, camping at the trailhead, hiking up, then camping another night.

Mountain biking on the Hole in the Ground Trail, with Castle Peak in the background.

Mountain biking on the Hole in the Ground Trail, with Castle Peak in the background.

Mountain Biking: Where do I start? There are so many trails in the Truckee/Tahoe area. If you add in the trails in Reno, Carson, Nevada City, Auburn, etc., you will have your work cut out for you trying to ride all of them. So, I’m putting some of my top hit-list trails on here and will see what happens. I love mountain biking in the cooler weather; the temperature is that much more conducive to longer days in the saddle without running out of water or overheating.

Flume Trail: Another Tahoe icon I have not yet been on. I’ve heard all the hype about the epic views and a few exposed sections; which I’m sure are true, I just need to get in the saddle for myself to check out.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride: Living in North Lake Tahoe/Truckee over the years, I have not explored the trails of South Lake very much at all. In fact, I only rode Anderson, Anderson Connector and the Corral trails for the first time this July. This sounds like an all-day adventure, but the opportunity to check out some South Lake Tahoe restaurants after a day’s hard work will make me proud to earn my turns.

Ash Canyon: This new trail has been getting rave reviews by local mountain bike groups, but I was leery of riding in the high desert on an exposed trail during the heat of the summer. I think this autumn will be the perfect time to finally ride here.

Staying warm in the Sierra.

Staying warm in the Sierra.

Camping / Backpacking: Sleeping outside, even in a tent, is such a different experience than in the comfort of my own bed. During a recent camping trip to June Lake, I was woken throughout the night by a pack of coyotes; listening to their vocalizations was so interesting and entertaining – who needs Netflix? Although the cooler weather is a challenge for me, I hope to get another night or four in a tent.

Pyramid Lake: The terminus of the Truckee River, this desert lake’s austere beauty appeals to me; even more so without the brutal heat of the high summer. The lack of trees makes for great stargazing and the salinity of the lake improves my rudimentary swimming skills! This is an easy spot for car camping, so it makes for a quick overnight.

Lola: Practically in Truckee’s backyard, there is a year-round trail here, with ample backpack camping sites near White Rock Lake or along Cold Stream.

Lake Aloha: Yes, I know that the trail out here can be as busy as Disneyland, but there’s a reason Lake Aloha is so popular – it is gorgeous and accessible. I was able to meet my sister and her boyfriend while they were through-hiking the PCT earlier this summer, but I didn’t get to spend the night there, so it’s on my hit list.

Filtering water along the trail.

Filtering water along the trail.

Gear Needed: General gear for this time of year includes the following: map (or competent guide friend), compass, cell phone (in airplane mode to disconnect from modernity and connect to self and nature), headlamp (shorter days mean this is even more important), extra layers (light windbreaker, puffy coat, beanie, gloves, emergency rain poncho), sunscreen (the Joshua Tree sunscreen smells delicious, is made in the USA, and free of nasty chemicals), electrolytes, food and water are critical.

This past year, I have been making more of my own food to bring on the trail, in lieu of bars and gels, and am really fond of the baked rice balls in the Feed Zone Portables cookbook. The date/almond rice balls are super easy and the sweet potato/bacon are a delicious savory flavor.

I love that hiking is one of the least gear-heavy activities we can do around here, but a good pair of hiking shoes (I really like my Merrell Capras – the sticky soles offer great traction, and the wider toe box is really comfortable), and a daypack (I prefer a hydration pack so I can have my hands free) are necessary. Bonus items are trekking poles, a fancy watch, a Spot (just in case), and a GoPro to capture those epic summit pics.

Besides the obvious mountain bike, helmet and gloves, some bonus items to bring are a cyclometer (if it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen), a camera, and a cold beer/cider waiting for you at the car. Depending on the temperature, I may also wear pants or knee/leg warmers.

Camping and backpacking require the typical tent, sleeping bag, and pad, as well as a backpacking pack. Depending where you go, a bear canister is necessary. Trekking poles help, especially on descents, and I really like the MPOWERD inflatable solar lanterns for lightweight disco-fun illumination. A water filter, spork, mess kit, Jetboil, AeroPress, coffee and cup are needed as well.

I love the change of seasons and the crispness in the air, but I plan to clutch onto the last vestiges of summer as long as possible by doing as many of these adventures as I can. If you want to join me, let me know!

“Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” — John Muir

Namaste, Coral

Coral Taylor is an avid mountain biker, yogi, snowboarder and outdoor enthusiast living in Truckee, CA. Follow @c_ros on Instagram for rad photos of her adventures around Lake Tahoe and beyond. In addition to getting after it on the snow, Coral is also a Team LUNAChix Tahoe Mountain Bike Team Ambassador!

A Sky Island Kuna Crest in Yosemite

Friday, September 25th, 2015

Time lapse of the recent Walker Fire outside Yosemite.

Who: Rachel McCullough
What: Hiking and climbing
Tuolumne/Yosemite National Park
August 2015

It was a surprisingly warm morning last month in Yosemite National Park, which was nice because our destination for the day was more than 12,000 feet in elevation.

A week before the trip my hiking partner, Tom, and I studied the Yosemite map and bemoaned that we’d done nearly all the established trails close to the road.

So, we set our sights on a high-elevation hike with no established trail. This hike would take us to the top of Mammoth Peak at 12,117 feet and then south along the Kuna Crest, which rose and fell above and below 12,000 feet.

Mammoth Peak, our first destination.

Mammoth Peak, our first destination.

If you’ve read any of my other posts that involved Tom and Theresa (Hiking Yosemite’s Bermuda Triangle: Tenaya Canyon or Gorgeous Day Hike from Lukens Lake to Tenaya Lake in Tuolomne), you know that while we always intend to get an early start, it doesn’t actually ever happen.

We left the trailhead at 8:45 a.m. and immediately stepped off the trail and into the conifer forest, our objective coming in and out of view to the southwest.

Abandoning our usual fast clip we settled into a one-mile per hour kind of pace that involved frequently looking for the easiest route to the summit and agreeing upon our path. We went from a pond to forest to meadow to forest and then to the craggy upper reaches of Mammoth Peak.

Throughout our journey we spotted sheep poop and hoped to spot a bighorn sheep, which were rumored to be in the Mono Pass area just to our east.

We gained the ridge to the west and followed it to the summit, but not before I called a “food emergency.” Some in our group are known to realize they are absolutely starving just before the “hangry” phase sets in. Instead of the usual summit food and water break, we stopped just below the top of Mammoth Peak, with expansive views to the west, north and south.

Summit bound.

Summit bound.

This is where you can really see the difference between areas in Tuolumne that were glaciated and those that rose above the glacier. The Tuolumne domes that many are familiar with, such as DAFF, Fairview, Medlicott, and Lembert, were smoothed over into their dome shapes as the glaciers ran over them. The taller jagged peaks, such as Cathedral and Unicorn, stood above the glaciers.

We summited Mammoth Peak about four hours in, after a little more than 3.5 miles of off-trail hiking and scrambling. And that’s when we saw that the small wisps of smoke we’d spotted earlier that morning were now billowing. In those few hours, what we would later learn was the Walker Fire expanded quickly, and even closed Highway 120, which is the nearest park exit.

We signed the summit register and saw that the last party to sign had been up three days prior. We had the top to ourselves, but didn’t linger long. We headed south along the Kuna Crest.


Walking along the Kuna Crest.

Walking along the Kuna Crest.

Kuna Crest is a sky island, which is one of the reasons Tom and I (the planners for this hike) were interested to check it out. We were drawn to it after watching the Yosemite Nature Notes Sky Island video, which explains that sky islands are isolated high elevation places with unique plant species that don’t grow anywhere else. There are a few of these sky islands in the Park and Kuna Crest happened to be relatively easy to access.

Although we didn’t see the famed blue sky pilots (you can see them in the Nature Notes video), we saw many of the other plants known to grow in the sky islands, such as alpine gold, Sierra columbine, lupine and buckwheat. From afar, you’d never guess that, such as rocky place, was full of so many plants.

We followed the Kuna Crest up and down, stopping along the way to take a time-lapse of the growing Walker Fire, which started billowing white smoke at the top of the plume partway through the day.

The nice thing about our plan was that we could find a place to come down off the crest whenever we felt like it and pick up the Mono Pass trail to walk back to the car. There was a short section of talus to get off the Crest to reach the lakes below, but after that, it was easy walking back to the trail.

We timed it well and were back to the car well before dark, and were eating our pasta dinner in no time. The only thing we didn’t time well was the line at the Tuolumne store, where we stopped to get typical camping essentials, like chips and our ice cream appetizer.

This post comes from Rachel McCullough, an avid hiker, mountain biker, rock climber, yogi, skier and photographer living in Truckee, CA. Follow @rachelmcphotos on Instagram for stunning images of beautiful Sierra scenery. When Rachel isn’t enjoying her free time in the outdoors, she’s teaching skiing at Northstar California or building and marketing websites for her clients at McCullough Web Services.

Peak Baggin’ the Eastern Sierra Nevada

Monday, September 21st, 2015

Who: Chris Cloyd
What: Trail Running/Peak Baggin’
Where: Banner Peak and Mt. Ritter
When: Sept. 12, 2015

In mid-September Tahoe Mountain Sports Ambassador Chris Cloyd set out from the Rush Creek trailhead (37.78227°N/119.09786°W) off the June Lake Loop on the eastside of the Sierra with Bill Clements and Luke Garten for a dayshot effort on Banner Peak and Mount Ritter. Check out their day in the high Sierra!
And check out the huge selection of topo maps and guide books at Tahoe Mountain Sports for your next adventure…

Using the Rush Creek trailhead for an approach of Banner Peak and Mt. Ritter isn’t the most economical (it’s closer to start at Agnew Meadows trailhead  37.68296°N/119.09263°W out of Mammoth), but Bill, Luke and I had run the River Trail before and wanted to explore a new zone. Seeing the cable tramway up from Silver Lake, the dam at Agnew Lake and new trails was well worth the extra work.

We ascended North Glacier Pass from Thousand Island Lake and refilled our water supply at Lake Catherine. From there, we ascended just north of the glacier via rock and talus to gain the saddle between Banner and Ritter. Ascending Banner was a glorified walk up via the southwest face — and well worth it.

Views of Thousand Island Lake, Mono Lake and Garnet Lake reward your efforts. Retracing our steps to the saddle, our next challenge was the north face of Ritter. Muir waxed poetic on his ascent and our route was every bit as awesome. We utilized a chute rising from the apex of the glacier and gained the summit ridge, summiting our second peak of the day in fine style.

We opted to descend down the SE face of Ritter to Ritter Lakes to take in some new scenery, regrouped at Lake Catherine and then ran back to the trailhead retracing our route. Just under 10 hours!

Chris Cloyd is a TMS Ambassador and lover of endurance sports. When Chris isn’t training for his next big run in the mountains or out exploring the Eastern Sierra on bike, he’s managing the Performance Training Center by Julia Mancuso. Watch for more race reports, gear reviews and fun reading from Chris and other Ambassadors of Tahoe Mountain Sports.

Burning Essentials… and a Bit of Bug Spray

Thursday, August 27th, 2015
Bugs are turning up on the playa prior to Burning Man 2015.

Bugs are turning up on the playa prior to Burning Man 2015.

Burning Man 2015 is just around the corner and we want to make it easy for burners to get last-minute supplies before venturing off to the Black Rock Desert. NOTE that this list is not all-inclusive and will not contain everything you need out on the playa, just a few things we carry at the store that will make your stay in Black Rock City more comfortable.

And, yes, it’s true: According to, there are bugs out on the playa this year, so come on into the store and peruse a variety of insect repellents.

Insect Repellents
Whether it’s some sort of Black Rock Desert bug, mosquito or other annoying creepy-crawly insect, you can find a variety of insect repellents at Tahoe Mountain Sports. Along with a variety of sprays check out the Coleman Cintronella Candle Lantern. The lantern may or may not repel the burner bugs but it does multi-task: 40-hours of pleasant-smelling, mosquito repelling ambient light.

Platypus Water Tank 6


Burning Man is a lot of things to a lot of people, but first and foremost it is desert survival. Water is the single most important thing you can bring out on the playa. The rule of thumb is 1.5 gallons per person per day. Bring more if you are using a solar shower, mist sprayers or anything else that uses additional water. For in-camp water storage, check out 5 Gallon Foldable Water Carriers or the 6 Liter Platypus Water Tank. All of these water carriers can be folded up to save space on the way back. For hydration out on the playa, we carry a variety of hydration backpacks, hydration reservoirs and water bottles.

Bike Accessories

Bikes are an indispensable mode of transportation on the playa. You will be able to see and do more on a bicycle than you will traveling on foot and hopping on art cars or mutant vehicles. Need to carry some cargo? Check out our selection of bike bags and bike baskets. For nighttime riding, bike lights are a must. These Nite Ize Spot Lit lights are perfectly small for playa use as they can be clipped to a bike, clothing, tent door or anything you need to locate in the dark. Better yet, they cycle through the colors of the rainbow. And if you want really want to pimp your ride, check out the Nite Ize See’Em mini spoke lights for extra flair.

Sun Protection

The sun’s rays are very powerful in the high desert, and the reflection off the light-colored alkali ground amplifies the sun’s effects. Protect your skin with Sol Sunguard Altitude SPF 40 or Alpine SPF 25 sunscreen for non-greasy, sweatproof sun protection. Lip Balm is also one of the best things to have with you after a couple days in the desert. Sunglasses are a good idea as well, but will not protect your eyes against dust storms, but something like Suncloud’s Cassandra shades look great. Snow goggles, work well for keeping dust out of your eyes. A big hat like the Kavu Chillba Fisherman’s Hat is another great way to keep the sun off your face.


Running a Remote Aid Station at One of the Toughest Ultra-Marathons: Hardrock 100.

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

This post comes from Shaun Nauman, a blogger ( and Boulder, CO resident. When Shaun isn’t studying snow hydrology and forecasting avalanches, the AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Instructor is finding new adventures in the backcountry on his splitboard. Watch for more adventures, gear reviews and fun reading from Shaun and other Ambassadors of Tahoe Mountain Sports.

1 Hardrock100

The Hardock 100 is a mountain run that passes through some of the most beautiful and rugged mountains in the world. The Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run is an ultra-marathon of 100.5 miles in length, plus 33,992 feet of climb and 33,992 feet of descent for a total elevation change of 67,984 feet, at an average elevation of over 11,000 feet. The race is held on a loop course on 4WD roads, dirt trails, and cross country in Southern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains.

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The San Juan mountains are home to some of the most rugged mountains in Colorado. The run starts and ends in Silverton, Colorado and travels through the towns of Telluride, Ouray, and the ghost town of Sherman, crossing thirteen major passes in the 12,000′ to 13,000′ range. Runners must travel above 12,000 feet (3,700 m) of elevation a total of 13 times, with the highest point on the course being the 14,048′ summit of Handies Peak. This is a test of runners against the mountains. The course is on trails as much as possible. There are 13 aid stations; major aid stations are located in the towns and a few remote aid stations throughout the course. The run is a salute to the toughness and perseverance of the hardrock miners who lived and worked in the area.

For the past five years, I have been part of a team who runs a remote aid station at roughly 12,200’ elevation just below Engineer Pass, known properly as Engineer Aid Station. The logistics and planning that go in to running a remote aid station begin several weeks, if not months, before we even arrive in Silverton, CO. To start, last year the design and engineering of new lightweight canopy shelters would replace the tarp shelter we have used for many years, it was enough to make even the most weight consciences backpacker jealous. Several boxes of gear are inventoried and packed away for the trip to Silverton. Once in Silverton we draw even more equipment from Hardrock 100 (food, beverages, emergency bags, and all the fill-in items that complete an aid station). We then attend general, medical, and radio communication briefings. Once the briefings are complete, equipment is loaded and the last few things are gathered to fill empty spots, and the pilgrimage to Engineer Pass begins.

4 Hardrock100

We typically arrive at the top of Engineer Pass via a four-wheel drive road late Thursday afternoon the night prior to the race start. From there we load up packs and descend in to the Bear Creek valley right at tree line below Engineer Pass. Wildflowers and snowfields fill this valley, and when the light is right, it is a natural spectacle beyond words.

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It takes a full day to get the aid station setup. The Hardrock 100 begins the next morning (Friday) at 6 a.m., at the same time we are setting up our station. Engineer Aid Station is right at about the 50 mile mark. Each year the race is run in a reverse direction, but since we are in the middle, it has little bearing on us. The logistics of bringing in food, beverages, tables, and cooking supplies are calculated almost to the pound. Water has to be filtered from a nearby stream, roughly 75 gallons of it. 15 gallons of broth will be prepared, and over 200 pounds of food and beverages will be packed in. Two large wing canopies, four ultra-light tables, lights, a stove, fuel, and emergency supplies are also packed in. All of this is just for the runners and their pacers. Volunteers at the aid station are responsible for packing in their own food and supplies beyond what they are hauling on behalf of the aid station.

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The canopies were made using aerodynamic wing designs reminiscent of that seen in MSR Wing or Kelty Noah Tarps and designed from lightweight Tyvek, shock cord, and high tensile strength aluminum. They proved to stand up to all the elements this year, which in a 24 hour period included rain, snow, lightning, wind, sunshine…you name it. While the wing canopies each cover an area of 24’ x 30’, they weigh less than 8lbs apiece!

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Once the amenities of the aid station are set up, a radio base station is established between aid stations and with Silverton headquarters some 15 miles away over mountainous terrain. The radio communications are critical, and the use HAM radios and creative uses of radio equipment are employed. Often times we can hit a radio repeater on Engineer Mountain at 13,200’, but not always. At times it is a matter of aiming a lightweight yagi antenna at a cliff wall and bouncing the signal down Bear Creek Canyon to Ouray. Other times it might include a cross-band repeater set up in a vehicle parked several miles away on Engineer Pass. In many instances, our communications have to be intermittently shut down due to electric storms. We stay busy, to say the least.

In actuality, the radio network to cover the 100-mile race is quite a marvel. A diagram of the radio schematic from various aid stations would look like a spider web to some. But it all falls in to place. With all the challenges, we make contact and track every single runner and pacer that comes through our station. Our first runner usually comes through at around 4pm on Friday. For the next 16 hours runners will continue to pour in to our station. Our busiest time is between 10pm and 2am, but we will see them well in to the morning hours.

We have seen just about everything imaginable come through our station. Some runners appear as if they are taking a casual stroll through the park, in high spirits. But, with Hardrock, and the elements of the mountains, a pass that is sunny and still one moment can be a whiteout of graupel, rain, and lightning the next. The runners reflect the experiences they encounter on the course. Even though we only see the runners briefly at our aid station, their experiences will be remembered for a lifetime.

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After all runners are accounted for to the next aid station, we get the all-clear to pack up our station. We practice Leave No Trace ethics. In essence, the aid station and any clue of its existence vanish upon our departure. The long hike out of Engineer begins, hopefully getting to the top of Engineer Pass to our vehicles before the afternoon storms hit. This year we encountered a blinding white mix of rain, graupel, and snow ascending to the top of the pass.

In all, it is a tremendous amount of work running this station. But we love doing it and have returned for many years, as a group we have run this station since 2010. The runners in Hardrock are quite honestly some of the most genuine people I have ever had the opportunity to meet. Hardrock is a race like no other, and from a runner’s perspective is a mental challenge as well as a physical one. All of the runners have stories of Hardrock 100 and how they persevered both the external and internal challenges. It’s the inspiration of the runners, and the genuine human spirit that keeps us coming back.

Kelty Noahs Tarp 12
Kelty Noahs Tarp 12
MSRP: $69.95

Project Aloha – Adventure Dining Guide

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

Mike, Michelle, and Laura enjoying “Aloha Life” with some Surf N Turf

This post comes from Guest Blogger Michelle Shea. Michelle lives in Lake Tahoe and is the host/creator of the outdoor series Adventure Dining Guide. She created Adventure Dining Guide because “food is the unrecognized hero of our journeys, and its about time backcountry meals get the recognition they deserve”. Learn more at

Who: Laura Shea, Mike Stohlgren, Michelle Shea, and Shogun the dog.
What: Backpack to Lake Aloha and film an episode of Adventure Dining Guide
Where: Echo Lake to Lake Aloha, Desolation Wilderness
When: June 28-29 2015

My sister, Laura, is a college athlete with a busy schedule, which means she rarely gets the chance to spend time in the wilderness. When she came up to Tahoe to spend a few weeks with me this summer, I was very excited to strap a pack on her and lead her into Desolation Wilderness.

We got the permits, recruited Michael, and packed our bags for an overnight excursion to Lake Aloha via Echo Lake. The hike out was beautiful, and filled with picturesque views from every angle. We trekked through 90 degree heat, and enjoyed every spot of shade we passed on the trail. The dog was especially happy to find shade and demanded an abundant amount of water breaks.

At the top of the pass we opted for the extended route to Lake Of The Woods, which to our delight, was a pristine lake surrounded by a lush flower-filled forest. We stopped for a snack, enjoyed the views then continued trough Mosquito Pass to Lake Aloha. Upon reaching the lake we saw an array of people taking advantage of cliff jumping, bouldering, thru hiking, swimming, sun bathing, and camping. Michael packed in his skateboard, with hopes of finding a smooth granite rock, and when he saw the abundance of activity around the lake, he was inspired to begin his search for his backcountry skate spot.

Half way around Lake Aloha we found an ideal campsite, complete with an adjacent granite kitchen. Someone had spent a great deal of time arranging rocks to create tables and benches, which was the perfect set-up to film an episode of Adventure Dining Guide. After we set up camp we got out the GoPro, prepped the food, and Laura the Camerawoman filmed me making “Surf and Turf Sandwiches”. This tasty lunch consisted of pita bread, Romano cheese, bell pepper, tuna, and Tahoe Truckee Beef Jerky. After wrapping up filming we sat in our granite dining room and devoured our “Surf and Turf” lunch.

The rest of the day was spent exploring. Michael found a few rocks that were skate friendly, and Laura and I walked along the edge of the lake to enjoy the views. At the end of the day we watched the sun slip behind the mountains, and then quickly retreated to the tent to hide from the mosquitos. We ate dinner in the tent, and then fell fast asleep.
Laura had the perfect introduction to Tahoe’s backcountry, and she’s very excited to come back next summer and see what lies beyond Lake Aloha!

Watch the video below for the full adventure with Aloha Surf N Turf Sandwiches:

Mud Lake: The Journey Was Better than the Destination

Thursday, June 25th, 2015


This post comes from Rachel McCullough, an avid hiker, mountain biker, rock climber, yogi, skier and photographer living in Truckee, CA. Follow @rachelmcphotos on Instagram for stunning images of beautiful Sierra scenery. When Rachel isn’t enjoying her free time in the outdoors, she’s teaching skiing at Northstar California or building and marketing websites for her clients at McCullough Web Services.

Who: Rachel and Garrett McCullough
What: Hiking
Where: Tahoe Rim Trail – Brockway to Mt. Rose segment
When: June 2015

Only I could think up a hike where the destination was a muddy lake that would require 23 miles of hiking. And only my husband, Garrett, would think this was a good enough idea to tag along cheerfully. 

So, it really had to be all about the journey; as is my goal of day hiking the entire Tahoe Rim Trail.

The Tahoe Rim Trail has presented a challenge to Garrett and me. Not because of the hiking itself, which seems to be the easy part, but in the logistics. Being a one car family, and the fact that no one has shown too much interest in 20-30 mile day hikes with us, shuttling is a bit difficult.

The Tahoe City to Brockway section took 4 modes of transportation to complete. We drove to Brockway, rode our bikes down to the bus stop in Kings Beach, took the bus to the trailhead in Tahoe City, walked the trail to the car, then drove back to pick up the bikes in Kings Beach! And while that seemed somewhat reasonable (except to anyone we explained this convoluted plan to, planning for the others hasn’t been as easy).

We completed the Brockway to Mt. Rose section a bit differently. Last year, we started at Mt. Rose, with our goal destination being Mud Lake, about halfway between the Brockway and Mt. Rose trailheads. We didn’t quite make it all the way, but we came close. So this particular weekend, we headed out from Brockway to tick off the remaining piece. That made our destination somewhere past Mud Lake.

So as my wise friend, Gretchen, pointed out when I hatched this plan of day-hiking from either trailhead to the middle – when we are done we’ll have hiked nearly the whole trail twice. So here’s to hiking the Tahoe Rim Trail twice, once in each direction!

Our adventure on the Brockway to Mt. Rose section began by loading up with 5 liters of water (each!) and setting out at the not-so-early hour of 8:30 from Brockway towards Martis Peak. Have I mentioned before we are not morning people?! Almost immediately, we were both drenched in sweat. Garrett asked me if the trail seemed harder than usual (we’d done the first part many times). Maybe it was all the water we were carrying to prevent getting overwhelmed by the heat.

This did not seem like the way to start 23 miles. I think the problem was that it was actually warm out. Summer temps plus some morning humidity wasn’t something we’d gotten used to yet.

The lake came in and out of view on our right side for the first several miles, until it eventually opened up so that all you could see was blue. The blue of the sky, the blue of the lake; what a gorgeous color.


One of our earlier views of Lake Tahoe. It just kept getting better.

The trail meandered and switchbacked through the forest, before eventually leading to more open and treeless terrain. We stopped for a break at the last bit of shade, not so much because we were tired, but more because we were scared of the sun-baked terrain in front of us! We might wilt! Luckily as we climbed higher, it cooled down and we got a nice afternoon breeze. Being at over 9,000 feet definitely helps.


Someone needs to go back for this photo in a couple of weeks. The yellow flowers will be gorgeous!

We joked along the way about our goal of Mud Lake. We wondered if there was even going to be water. Garrett still hasn’t let me live it down that I built up our hike to Twin Lakes on the Mt. Rose to Spooner section, only to find no water upon reaching the first lake. He claimed I was leading him on again. I started to wonder myself since we had decided on the route late the previous night and hadn’t asked around.

We agreed this was the best section of the trail so far. Views like on the Flume Trail, but without the bikes or crowds.

On the way to Mud Lake, there were a couple of tempting diversions. One was a rock outcropping with an easy climb and a lake view. Garrett reminded me that all diversions should be done on the way back. That way you know if you have enough energy to make it to the end. And he’s right! It’s easy to be excited 7 or 8 miles in! We did end up stopping for the short rock climb, but held off on Rifle Peak to see how we felt on the way back.

Then, I spent the next few miles tripping over my own feet as I forgot about the trail and stared at the lake. The most gorgeous part of the hike definitely went by the quickest.

We finally reached Mud Lake, and while it wasn’t as disappointing as one might think, it might not be the destination most people have in mind after hiking 10+ miles. But it did have water and it wasn’t muddy at all! So, we grumbled a bit about carrying a total of 10 liters of water, but oh well.


Mud Lake. It seemed clearer in person, I promise!

At this point, we figured we must be getting close to the spot we’d left off last time. So, we commenced what seemed like the longest part of the hike, which consisted of about a mile, with more uphill than perhaps we had envisioned. I say envisioned because the topo clearly showed the uphill, we just didn’t quite internalize what we saw.

We finally reached a familiar spot and were able to remember where we sat to rest and a trail that could be seen in the distance. Somehow we still questioned ourselves a bit. We couldn’t come all this way and miss a few hundred foot section in the middle! So went just a little bit further until we spotted Ginny Lake. Now we were sure. Ginny Lake is a muddy lake. Strange that the clearest lake in the area is named Mud Lake and the muddy lake is named Ginny Lake. I didn’t take long to ponder that because we started to head back and I had my sights set on Rifle Peak.


Garrett and Ginny Lake (that small puddle in the background). This was our turnaround point.

Rifle Peak is not too far off the trail, but it’s a little steep! We found another hiker at the summit who snapped our photo. Confusion ensued when we told him where we came from and how we got there. And then counted out the miles for him!


Rachel and Garrett on the summit of Rifle Peak.


Rifle Peak summit with clouds building.

We only spent a couple of minutes at the summit, wondering if the building clouds would produce any rain. It wasn’t in the forecast, but they did seem to be staying east.


Garrett descending from Rifle Peak, which is seen in the background.


More descending from Rifle Peak. No complaints about this view. Except that it made me trip over anything in my path. Too distracting!

We took our longest break of the hike right before we lost our most expansive lake view. It was hard to motivate to leave that spot, but after 10 minutes, it was go time.


Panoramic view of North Tahoe from the trail, with Garrett.


There’s me. About to trip on something as I look at Lake Tahoe, I’m sure! Good thing for hiking poles!

The final miles somehow melted away. Good conversation definitely helps. We hit the road at about 5:45pm, ready for some dinner. Our evening plans entailed walking two miles to happy hour at a friends’, putting us at 25 miles for the day. We joked we should make a lap around the neighborhood and make it a full marathon. Oh well, another time!

Tahoe Mountain Sports Gear We Used:


Tahoe Trail Running At Its Finest: a Local Loop

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

This post comes from Chris Cloyd, a TMS Ambassador and lover of endurance sports. When Chris isn’t training for his next big run in the mountains or out exploring the Eastern Sierra on bike, he’s managing the Performance Training Center by Julia Mancuso. Watch for more race reports, gear reviews and fun reading from Chris and other Ambassadors of Tahoe Mountain Sports.

Who: Chris Cloyd
What: Trail Running / Scrambling
Where: Truckee, CA – Castle Peak
When: June 8, 2015

June 8 Run

TMS Ambassador – Chris Cloyd’s Route (June 8, 2015)

The morning of June 8, 2015 set up perfectly, with calm skies, warm temps, and a block of about three free hours on my schedule. Not one to ever turn down an outdoor opportunity, I grabbed my Salomon S-Lab Running Vest and Salomon Trail Running Shoes and ran out the door just shy of 8:30 AM.

My adventure run this particular morning was to start from the Castle Pass Trail Head, across from Boreal Mountain Resort on the I-80 summit. I ran up the Castle Pass fire road to the Donner Lake Rim Trail, then turned off on the DRT for a short section before hitting the Pacific Crest Trail (never skip a chance to run America’s most famous trail). I ran the PCT up to Castle Pass, then took the trail up the shoulder to Castle Peak before gaining the summit of Castle Peak’s 3rd tower (the easternmost tower is the true summit, home of the survey marker and register).

The summit of Castle Peak  was reached in 41:38 from leaving my car – by far my best time up to the peak. I saved some energy going up, for sure, and I look forward to going back this summer to try and best the 40 minute mark. The summit block is a spicy bit of Class 3 Climbing, so keep your wits about you and watch your footing if you go! I continued from there along the ridge trail (as good as it gets) to Basin Peak, and topped out there as well. It’s an easy summit, about five feet off of the ridge trail. Make sure you sign the register there as well!

I then crashed down to the Devil’s Oven-PCT trail, swung left down toward Castle Valley and the PCT. It’s only a short bit of running on the PCT before the Sand Ridge Trail to Hole In The Ground, and I took a right there and descended to the HITG Trail intersection. Taking a left and running HITG en route to Andesite Ridge, I enjoyed really the only shaded section of trail on today’s run. HITG snakes its way down from Andesite Ridge and links back to the Castle Pass fire road, which I took back to my car.

At 12 miles, this is one of the best “short” loops on offer in the Truckee/Tahoe area, and one of my personal favorites. Get out there and try it the next chance you get!

Tahoe Trail Bars Make for a Great Hiking Meal!

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

This post comes from Guest Blogger Michelle Shea. Michelle lives in Lake Tahoe and is the host/creator of the outdoor series Adventure Dining Guide. She created Adventure Dining Guide because “food is the unrecognized hero of our journeys, and its about time backcountry meals get the recognition they deserve”. Learn more at

Who: Cameramen Skyler Mullings & Michelle Shea
What: Featuring Tahoe Trail Bar as the main ingredient and new ways to enjoy trail bars
Where: Tahoe Rim Trail
When: April 2015

I love trail bars! They’re a staple food in my outdoor adventures because they’re tasty, convenient, and filled with trail necessary nutrients. However, sometimes I crave variety…so I invented three ways to transform a trail bar into more than just a quick snack. I used ingredients that are pack friendly and will help elevate a trail bar into a hearty meal. ADG

This is the Adventure Dining Guide episode featuring Tahoe Trail Bar:

Here is a link to the recipe:

Get Your Adventure Meal Ingredients at TMS:

I Found Snow and it Tried to Get Me Lost: Day Hiking From Tahoe to Truckee

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

This post comes from Rachel McCullough, an avid hiker, mountain biker, rock climber, yogi, skier and photographer living in Truckee, CA. Follow @rachelmcphotos on Instagram for stunning images of beautiful Sierra scenery. When Rachel isn’t enjoying her free time in the outdoors, she’s teaching skiing at Northstar California or building and marketing websites for her clients at McCullough Web Services.

Who: Rachel, Adam
What: Hiking
Where: From Tahoe City to Truckee, along the Tahoe Rim Trail and the 06 Forest Road
When: April 2015

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Photo: Rachel McCullough

“Did you do an idiot check?” I asked Adam as we left our rest spot. [The idiot check is the last glance back to make sure that you actually packed everything that you came with, so you don’t feel like an idiot later when you realize you left your water bottle sitting on a log.] Never having heard that phrase, he asked if I was checking for him since he was an idiot for coming along on one of my crazy hikes! Unfortunately, I am not sure he is the first to have that thought cross his mind while hiking with me. While we had hiked together many times since we met in college, I have pushed myself towards what some would call the extreme, while he has been enjoying hiking like most people, five to ten miles at a time. But, he can out ride me any day, so I figured what’s a few extra miles?


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