Faces of the Tahoe Rim Trail | SierraSun.com

Faces of the Tahoe Rim Trail

Erin Casey
"Happy Trails"

Courtesy photoTahoe Rim Trail Association president Jim Backhus takes a swing at improving the Tahoe Rim Trail.

In September 2001, the Tahoe Rim Trail Association celebrated the completion of the Tahoe Rim Trail 20 years in the making.

They called it done in 2001, but after many years of designing, planning, and building, the Tahoe Rim Trail has not loosened its grip on the hundreds of weary trail builders. Each year the winter weather wreaks havoc on the Sierra Nevada, dumping up to 30 feet of heavy snow only to be defeated by the magnificent Lake Tahoe summer.

As the snow begins to melt into the surrounding alpine lakes, the

Tahoe Rim Trail reveals itself under thick mud puddles, frozen patches of icy snow, and dozens of fallen trees. Without hesitation, the TRTA trail crews begin to train new volunteers, sharpen their tools and head out to care for a trail they spent years creating.

Each spring the Tahoe Rim Trail Association offers a series of training courses to prepare volunteers for trail maintenance and enhancement. In addition to learning trail layout, design, construction and maintenance, TRTA volunteers are trained by the USFS to use chain saws in the backcountry. After the training courses have been completed, TRTA volunteers spend hundreds of hours removing fallen trees, clearing back overgrown brush, constructing new trails and repairing the TRT using their own trail assessments.

The TRTA crews work on the TRT every Tuesday and Saturday from June 19 through Oct. 9. These TRTA work crews consist of experienced Crew Leaders (Green Hats), first year Crew Leaders (Blue Hats), and first-time trail builders including individuals, couples and families with children.

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All TRTA work days are open to anyone interested in experiencing the outdoors while giving back to the community. The location of each work day depends upon the needs of the trail and may include new trail construction, tree removal and trail maintenance.

Although TRTA work days are effective, the summer would not be complete without TRTA’s annual trail building events called the Back Country Camps. This year the camps are scheduled to take place Aug. 13-15 and Sep. 3-6 (Labor Day Weekend). Traditionally, these events are designed to build, enhance, and repair the Tahoe Rim Trail in areas not easily accessible by Tuesday and Saturday crews.

The Tahoe Rim Trail Association recruits volunteer cooks to prepare all meals for the volunteers crews throughout the weekend. The cost for this event is $25 per person ($20 for TRTA members) and $15 for children under 12 to cover the cost of food. This year, both Back Country Camps will take place near Showers Lake along the Tahoe Rim Trail.

Without the dedication of TRTA’s volunteer work crews to support these programs, the Tahoe Rim Trail would be lost to Mother Nature’s reclamation of her land and years of heavy use. Although the trail appears rocky, windy, dusty and steep, the true face of the Tahoe Rim Trail is that of the Tahoe Rim Trail volunteer crews working tirelessly day by day and foot by foot to create a magnificent path to heaven and back.

[Erin Casey is Associate Director of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association.]

The Tahoe Rim Trail Association will host its annual Tahoe Rim Trail Backcountry Camps in August and September. The first camp is to be held on Aug. 13-15 and the second camp on Sep. 3-6.

The backcountry camps will start on Friday night, Aug. 13, and/or Sep. 3 for dinner and afternoon hikes. This year both camps will be near Showers Lake, located between the Big Meadow and Echo Summit Trailheads.

The cost of the camp is $25 per person and $15 for children under 12. The fee includes all meals, snacks, and a kitchen crew to prepare everything for all participating volunteers. Participants need to bring personal camping equipment, long pants, long sleeves to prepare for a weekend in the backcountry.

Advance registration is required. The Backcountry Camps provide an excellent opportunity to learn how to build and maintain trail.

For more information or to register for the camps, please contact Erin Casey at (775) 298-0232 or e-mail erinc@tahoerimtrail.org.

For more information about how to become a Tahoe Rim Trail member or volunteer, contact the Tahoe Rim Trail Association at info@tahoerimtrail.org or (775) 298-0012, or visit the Web site at http://www.tahoerimtrail.org.