ADT Virginia City to Tahoe City 2016-07

Continuing walking and documenting the western-most portion of the American Discovery Trail (ADT), I backpacked from Virginia City to Tahoe City. From Virginia City to the Tahoe Rim Trail above Carson City, the trail is more characteristic of the Great Basin than the Sierra, but the remainder is higher and wetter.

Washoe Valley
Washoe Valley

I took the Amtrak bus to Reno, went on a side trip to the Patagonia Outlet, and then hitchhiked up to Virginia City (no public transportation). Dinner at the Red Dog Saloon while my devices charged, and then out on the trail about sunset. The route follows Ophir Grade, a road that was the original route serving Virginia City. At Five Mile Reservoir, which is a holding pond for water in the Marlette to Virginia City water system (no water access, however), I took a wrong turn along the new pipeline road, since this waypoint was not in the ADTS document, and it looks invitingly flat though it later does two major roller coaster dives and climbs. The correct route turns left on an old road and goes up nearly over the top of McClelland Peak. Rejoining the route west of McClelland, it descends into Washoe Valley at the ranger station and campground. This section from Virginia City to the campground is dry.

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Tahoe Rim Trail, the rest

Crimson Columbine
Crimson Columbine

In the middle of July I completed my circuit of the Tahoe Rim Trail, going from Big Meadow trailhead to Tahoe City along the west side of Lake Tahoe. My earlier trip had been from Tahoe City to Big Meadow trailhead on the east side of Lake Tahoe. This brings the number of complete trips to seven, I think, though I’ve never kept a very accurate count. I’ve decided that in the future, I’ll only count completions if I do them in a single year, so I only have to keep track of that year and not segments completed in other years. At that rate, I’ll never catch up with Ellen who leads a through hike every year. Oh well.

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Tahoe Rim Trail

rockpile and lake, Tahoe Rim Trail, Brockway to Tahoe City segment
rockpile and lake, Tahoe Rim Trail, Brockway to Tahoe City segment

The first week in July I backpacked about 60% of the Tahoe Rim Trail. I started clockwise at Tahoe City, and ended at Big Meadows Trailhead on Hwy 89 south of Lake Tahoe. The distance took me five days, averaging about 20 miles per day. Since this was my first serious backpack of the season, 20 miles seemed like a long distance, though later in the summer once I’m in good condition, it will not seem like much.

The trail is divided up into segments, and many people hike the trail in those segments, from road crossing to road crossing. I’ve done that many times, from my first completion of the trail in 2005 (#426) to leading segment hikes for the Tahoe Rim Trail Association a number of times since. I also thru-hiked the trail once, in 2009, co-leading the TRTA’s 15-day through hike. I’ve also been on parts of the trail many, many times while living in Carson City, walking up to the trail from home to head around the north side to the Granite Chief Wilderness or around the south side to the Mokelumne Wilderness.

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