Your Health: Smart backpacking tips for exploring Tahoe’s backcountry | SierraSun.com

Your Health: Smart backpacking tips for exploring Tahoe’s backcountry

Special to the Sun

When venturing out into the wilderness, make sure you have easy access to the items in your pack that you plan on using during your day.

TAHOE-TRUCKEE, Calif. — As the seasons change here in the Tahoe Basin, we all start dreaming of those long strolls on the great trails in the hills above Big Blue.

Quiet, tremendous views and memorable experiences await if we're willing to get out there on our own two feet! Chris Cloyd, an Ambassador for Tahoe Mountain Sports, shares some wisdom he's picked up on the trail:

Think First: Your backpacking experience will be greatly improved if you take the time to pack with intention. As you gear up for your trip, examine whether you're packing a luxury item or a necessity. Of course it's nice to have some luxuries, but those ounces add up and before you know it, you'll be out in the woods with exhausted muscles and a few unnecessary pounds.

Pack Right: Place the heavier/bulkier items close to your back and tightly nestled together (think: Tetris) to lower your pack's swing weight and let the hip straps do the bulk of the work.

Pack Smart: Make sure you have access to the items you plan on using during your day. Sunscreen with broad spectrum (UVA & UVB) protection, reapplied every two hours, is critical. Hydration is the other accessible item needed. Plan ahead so you're not the one on the side of the trail having a yard sale with all of your gear just so you can get to your camera.

Get A Pack That Fits You: There have been numerous advances in backpack production over the last few years, and companies are really taking ergonomics into account these days. Go to a local outdoor retailer and talk with their staff about what options exist and find a pack that fits you like a glove. The right pack should distribute weight evenly, protecting your lower back and shoulders from undue strain, and have the appropriate features to help make your outdoor experience fluid and enjoyable instead of a frustrating and ill-equipped one.

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Practice Leave No Trace (LNT): These principles promote the preservation and protection of our natural environments with guidelines to responsibly enjoy the outdoors. Experiencing the beauty of Tahoe is only one aspect of the challenge. Putting LNT into practice can be as simple as picking up trash left by others or respecting wildlife by observing them from a distance. To learn more, visit LNT.org.

Ready for a Challenge?

Trails in Tahoe are in no short supply. The Tahoe Basin offers the outdoor enthusiast hundreds of miles of extensive trails, each offering a memorable experience.

Yet, one trail is bound to elevate your experience — the Tahoe Rim Trail. This 165-mile backcountry trail winds loops peak to peak along the ridge tops of Crystal and Carson mountain range, encircling beautiful Lake Tahoe while offering stunning 360-degree views.

For some, the challenge of completing the Tahoe Rim Trail is top on their bucket list. The Tahoe Rim Trail Association (TRTA) annually hosts the Tahoe Rim Trail Challenge.

Now in its fourth year, the TRT Challenge is a program for individuals, families and teams to take on together as they explore six 2- to 13-mile sections of the TRT in one year.

After joining as a member, challengers are provided six detailed maps and trail descriptions that make navigating the TRT easy and build confidence. In addition, challengers receive a one year membership with the TRTA, an online tracking system for recording their completed challenges, a tech t-shirt, and participation in fun giveaways and activities. To learn more, visit tahoerimtrail.org.

Backpacking is a great way to get out and explore our wilderness and get some phenomenal outdoor exercise while you're at it. Our bodies afford us the opportunity to enjoy backpacking, so be sure to take some time to take care of yours. Pull out your map, load up your favorite pack, and get out there this summer!

Thank you Tahoe Mountain Sports and Tahoe Rim Trail Association for partnering with the Wellness Neighborhood, a service of Tahoe Forest Health System, helping you Rethink Healthy.

This article was provided by Tahoe Forest Health System as part of B-FIT (Be Fit in Tahoe), a program providing wellness to our community. Visit tfhd.com to learn more.