Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Rim Shot

It is possible to hike the perimeter of Lake Tahoe. The Tahoe Rim Trail circles for 165 miles along the ridgelines and peaks surrounding this very blue body of water, sometimes dropping to lake level. We rooted down in the Martis Creek Campground southeast of Truckee for a few days. The campground is conveniently located next to the airport -- convenient if you are flying, but a bit loud at peak times of the day, although pleasantly nestled among the trees with a view of a reservoir and the wetlands maintained for the wildlife. Since we had the luxury of not setting up and taking down our tent each day, it left us with time to do some hiking along this circumnavigating trail.

Imagine the Rim Trail as a circle around the lake which intersects various roads and highways radiating out from the lakeshore. These intersections divide the trail into named segments. Well-marked trailheads exist at these intersections, with nice signs containing detailed maps of the terrain accessed from the entry point. Much of the trail is maintained by groups that have adopted segments, and some groups provide nice printed materials at the trailhead of their segment.

One hike started from Brockway Summit off of Highway 267. We headed on the segment heading north, hoping to reach a high point named Mount Baldy. As we gained elevation, the snow patches leftover from a record winter snowfall became more continuous, eventually obscuring the trail and slowing our progress. It became obvious that we would not make it to Mount Baldy. John was ahead of me, and from a rise he called down that we would be able to eat lunch in the gazebo. Gazebo? I hustled to catch up, and sure enough on the peak up the ridge we saw a structure that had the silhouette of a garden canopy.

As we got closer, we saw it was a lookout tower, once used for sighting fires. At one time these towers were manned 24 hours a day with rangers scouting for signs of smoke or flames, this method is being replaced by surveillance by aircraft which can cover a larger area with fewer personnel. These lookout towers have become historical structures, and because they are located in places that offer sweeping panoramic views, they are great places to visit.

The Martis Peak Lookout was restored in recent years, with new windows and wood interior and exterior. Inside was a card table and chair, and we settled in for a comfortable picnic with a view. The restoration team drew profiles of the horizon and marked the names and elevations of the distant peaks on the paneling above the windows, along with other landscape features such as ski areas and reservoirs. Also marked were the azimuth directions, so if you were a good hiker and had a compass (one of the 10 Essentials), you could pinpoint the features precisely. From this vantage point, we could see as far north as Mt. Lassen and all of Lake Tahoe.

The high point of our day, both figuratively and literally.
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Pat Yackie said...


I envy you your trip.

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All original text and photos are copyrighted Doris Reilly © 2006-2018. No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission.
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