Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tahoe Rim Trail / Watson's Loop / Tevis trail

Failure to Write

So I failed dismally to write about the amazing trip Renee and I took to Moab in September 2013 with Uno, Roo and Bite, where I spent much of my time with mouth agog.

pft and I returned to Moab in June 2014, ostensibly to pick up a tiny Spike, but mostly because we wanted a trip to Moab. We got a new tent (wonderful), took Finn and two bicycles and camped at Barlett Wash for a week of blissed out exploring, bike riding on slickrock, reading books in the heat of the afternoon. And I failed to write about it.

I failed to finish my Tevis with Fergus story (although, like the Moab trip write up, I did start it) - that ride will go down as probably the best I'll ever have - it was, without a doubt, the ride of a lifetime.

I failed to write about Roo and I doing Tahoe Rim Ride as a last minute spur of the moment option - and that ended up being one of Roo and my best rides together. He evidently loves that trail and does well on it - this was our second time doing the ride.

And finally, I failed to write about Roo and my attempt to finish Virginia City 100. Maybe one day it'll get written, but it's a daunting task.

(As an aside, I have also failed to continue running. I had to slow down a bit for Tevis, so's I didn't overdo it. And then I had to slow (i.e. stop entirely) for VC100 since I was definitely starting to teeter on overdoing it. And then when I tried to start again while doing lots of other things, my body said "Enough" and rebelled. So I agreed and haven't run since. I'm doing my best to pace myself. Not quite there, but balance is slowly being restored. I'm more or less over the post-100 bleahs ("My life isn't worth living unless I have a 100 to aim for") and starting to return to normal.)

One of these horses is not like the other.
What I will tell you about is the excellent ride we had this past Saturday on the Tahoe Rim Trail / Watson's Loop / Tevis trail.

Crysta and I had vaguely discussed the idea of horse camping at Faith Valley, but it didn't really pan out. I suggested Castle Peak loop, Crysta was leery (after I took her and Renee there when the snow wasn't quite melted and we had an "Adventure" (i.e. we squeaked by)). Crysta suggested Skillman, but I couldn't get excited about going there. Crysta suggested "the trails around Robie" and I really wasn't excited at the idea of the long dirt road to get in to Robie either, until it dawned on us that we could park at the hw-89 (Tevis) crossing and ride from there.

Huh. A 'splorin ride. My favorite.

It takes a little over 2 hours to haul up the mountain (including a civilised Starbucks visit on the way) and really is a no-brainer - up the freeway, over the top of Donner Summit, turn right and park in the turnout just past Squaw Valley by the side of hw-89.

There was slight excitement at the very beginning when Crysta slipped under Uno's feet while stopping mid-mount to untangle Uno from Digs' lead rope (she would be ponying him). Both got loose and trotted cheerfully back along the bike path through the underpass and up to the trailers where we retrieved them 30 seconds later.

But otherwise the ride went without incident. I'd downloaded maps to the GPS app on my phone, so knew that even if we didn't know where we were, I'd at least be able to tell where we should be going from that. And Crysta had a paper map which gave us the general idea about what we were supposed to be doing.

We followed the Tevis trail backwards up to where it opens up onto a dirt road. Tevis trail comes up from the left, while the connector road to the TRT continued up the hill to the right (there are several other smaller turns along the way which we eyeballed, but this one is the BIG dirt road).

Clambered up the hill, admiring Digs' NV drumsticks and Uno's developing ones. I fretted slightly that this was Roo's first ride back after being pulled at 92 miles at VC100 for rear end lameness - was he healed or would his back legs fall off during this climb?

Arriving at the top, all limbs still attached, it leveled off onto perfect footing and some ambiguous trail marking. The TRT crosses this dirt road, but we only noticed the trail markers headed south. It wasn't until I looked at the GPS to ascertain that, no, we didn't want to stay on this trail, and then pft backtracked about 100' we found the TRT headed north - marked, but a little surreptitiously. We shall call him Eagle Eyes Pft.

The turn for TRT headed north isn't very well marked -
you have to look carefully to see the trail and spot the markers

The TRT was REALLY fun. Lots of twisty turny singletrack that you could have a blast on. It wound up to the overlook at Painted Rock, and then dropped down the other side on a smooth switchbacked trail.

At the top of Painted Rock

Looking towards Robie Park. The Tevis trail is directly below us
(although I didn't know that until afterwards, looking at the map)

At some point, the trail changes to the Watson's Loop, but I'm not clear where. The trail follows the south flank of Mt Watson with views of Lake Tahoe, passing boulder piles and winding its way up over the shoulder of the mountain.

Watson's Trail

Looking down on Lake Tahoe

Eventually, it drops down to Watson Lake (pft and I had been here once before many years ago on mtn bikes when we spent the weekend with a summer ski lift pass at Northstar). We were a little leery of sinking in the mud at the lake, trying to get the horses a drink, but the lake level was low enough that it revealed a gravelled shore, so everyone got a drink.

Watson Lake

Roo and Fergus 

Being that it was mid-October, and being that we were up past 7,000', we'd carefully put on our extra clothes, strapped jackets to the back of the saddle, I'd put Roo in Small Thing's breast collar* which still had glowsticks attached from VC100, and I'd brought a headlight along. We were ready.

(* Small Thing's zilco breast collar is actually exactly the same size as Roo's - just with the straps buckled onto their smallest settings. Funder and I cunningly adjusted it the night before VC so that Roo could wear his yellow BC during the day and we'd switch to the glow-stick encrusted one for the night-time portion - thereby eliminating about 15 minutes of faffing around at the 50 mile hold. Girl Scouts R Us and we get points for cleverness).  

As it turned out, it was t-shirt weather and not even remotely chilly by the time we got back to the trailers at the end of the ride. In fact, it could be said that it was perfect weather. < Beam >

Leaving the lake, we had to check the GPS and map again - there's a sneaky left turn thrown in there (actually marked with lil' silver tree-tags with "W" punched into them) which puts you on another fun singletrack which spits you out on the paved road that leads to Robie.

Trying to figure out where we are, and where we're supposed to be going.

More singletrack and you drop onto the dirt road that leads to Robie.

Dirt road on the way to Robie Park

You follow the dirt road to the hairpin at the end then take the left-most trail. Again, was glad to have the GPS to consult, since Roo wanted to take the most direct route back to the trailer (over the top of a 7,762' mountain top - yes, there is a dirt road that leads up to it. Yes, he would have taken it). I even ended up walking along with the GPS turned on, watching the blue dot that was us, to make sure we really were on the correct trail (we weren't).

The final trail took us into the back of the meadow and, voila, Barsaleau Pavilion before us.

They have spigots at Robie Park, but since we'd crossed enough creeks and stopped at the lake, we didn't bother to try and find out if the water was still turned on. Probably would have been good to know. We did partake of the bunch grass in the Mansfield Arena - strangely empty with no vendors, no vets, no horses.

On the way to the Tevis start line

And then we blitzed home again on the Tevis trail all the way back to hw-89. Both Roo and Fergus assumed their "everyone out of the way, we know where we're going" modes (both having at least started Tevis), while Uno and Digs ambled along happily behind.

My favorite pea-head who has done good this year.

And because Crysta made us get up at 6:30 a.m., we were home before it was dark.