While Stetson and I were out visiting Lake Tahoe, we wanted to take full advantage of the beautiful area. So, we decided the best way for us to recover from the Tough Mudder would be to go on a 3-day backpacking trip! In the past years we had just sat in a hot tub, drank beer, ate obscene amounts of food, and watched a Rockies game… but not this time.
Disclaimer: Thus far with my writing, I have been trying to downplay just how terrible I am with directions. It used to be kind of funny bad and most people just assumed I would eventually learn/grow out of it. Now as a grown(ish) woman, it is just ridiculous when I have to say to Stetson, “Don’t—insert expletive here—make fun of me: Is that the Salt Lake?” as we drive right by the most massive body of water that could possibly be in Utah. But, there will be no hiding it with this post. There were a decent amount of lakes in the area that we hiked, and I asked Stetson a few times if the lake that I saw in the distance was Lake Tahoe. According to Stetson we were miles and miles away from seeing it, making my question laughable. So, rather than focusing of the location of our trip and the direction we hiked and the names of every place that we saw, I am going to focus on the experience I had while backpacking. Save myself some embarrassment and save you some frustration.
Miles covered: 7
We started with a pretty “easy” first day, as we had to pack up from our campsite that morning and had breakfast at a delicious, yet unbelievably slow diner in town.
We loaded up with all of our gear and hit the trail. Now, as I had only ever done day hikes before I had never carried a pack. I had gone hiking with one of my friends and her two kiddos—I carried my little hiking buddy (who calls me Miss Syndy) in his pack for just about a mile and it was surprisingly exhausting, but I was sure my pack would be lighter and less wiggly for this trip. I tried my pack on at Stetson’s house before we left. It was 20 pounds, without water, and standing in his house, wearing the pack for about 90 seconds, I was incredibly confident that there would be no problem lugging this thing around. And I was completely wrong. As far as backpacking packs go, my load was pretty light, but even that little extra weight grates on you.
That first day we hiked into a breath-taking meadow right off the bat. And looking back on the trip, I think that first meadow was my favorite. It looked like that hillside from The Sound of Music where she dances around and sings, “the hills are alive with the sound of music” (I sincerely hope you read that in a singing voice). I did not dance around or sing. I did attempt to jump with my pack on. But, I still appreciated the view. Meadows were my favorite on this hike; they had beautiful wildflowers, were shockingly green, and generally they were flat. I LOVED the flat part. Maybe my next trip will just be miles and miles of endless, flat meadows. Let me know if there are any trails fitting that description out there.
We were debating where to camp for the night. Either next to a little stream about 5 miles in or Shower Lake, which was 7 miles in. As we stopped next to the stream to check out campsite potential, we got into our only brother-sister spat of the trip. Of course, I decided that was the perfect time to make the argument about “more than just the campsite” and extend it into any possible issue we had over the past decade. Classic backpacking chit-chat. But, we did bounce back from that decently fast. Of course, we both agreed later we should have taken our packs off for that little discussion. Eventually we decided to head on to Shower Lake. It was only 2 more miles, and it was still early enough in the day
In that last stretch we saw more hikers than we had all day. There were a few serious pairs that appeared to be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. We also passed an older couple, and they instantly became my favorite. They weren’t what you would consider a typical ‘outdoors couple.’ They were clearly older and, well… soft. But, they were still out there doing the same trail as Stetson and I, two decently in shape people in their twenties. And they were doing it with a smile.
Eventually, we made it to our spot. Stetson and I whole-heartedly agreed that the extra 2 miles were totally worth it. Shower Lake is one of our favorite campsites ever. The lake was breathtaking with clear water and fish jumping all over. It seemed to be a pretty popular camping spot. There were some PCTers (people hiking the Pacific Crest Trail) set up just a bit away from us. A solo backpacker sleeping in his one person tent a little further down. And my favorite couple setting up camp a ways up. It was an interesting mix, but one that I was proud to be a part of.
For the sake of saving you from reading a ridiculously lengthy post, I have decided to break up my backpacking trip by days. And believe me, day 2 absolutely deserves to have its’ own post.
Thanks for reading,