The Lake Trail, Lake Tahoe

Discussion in 'Bikepacking' started by mike, Aug 13, 2018.

  1. mike

    mike iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Smash
    I mentioned this earlier – a new 130-mi ride completely around the lake on much dirt.

    Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 8.50.18 AM (2).png


    I don't know a lot about it, but a buddy's wife raced it two weeks ago as one of the early completers of the entire route. I glassed his route materials (he's a guide publisher and is working with FS on parts of the route) and it looks to have some routefinding and lesser-traveled passages on it, along with linked well-established area trails. The route reputes to be almost all dirt and mostly ST, to include 15 miles of new ST, and stays below most of the Wilderness on the west side. Interesting yet???

    In any case, this thing is burning a hole in my mind and I'm compelled to give it a go. Shooting for this month...chop chop. Will glean more intel this week; will share more when possible.
     
  2. Luis

    Luis iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Sylmar
    Name:
    Luis
    Current Bike:
    Big Black 29er
    I wonder if they mention it on the TAMBA site.

    Very interesting indeed!
     
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  3. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    Location:
    San diego
    Name:
    Evan S
    I was thinking of Tahoe for Labor day. That might be an option if I take an extra day or two off.
     
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  4. mike

    mike iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Smash
    Dang, ev, I would have entertained inviting myself to your ride if I was in town :( LMK if it gels and I can get you in touch with Chris, my contact. He has loads of beta I'm sure, just not ready to make it public yet. Cheers... :geek:
     
  5. herzalot

    herzalot iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    '15 Intense Tracer 275c DVOish
    Sooo cool!
     
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  6. mike

    mike iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Smash
    It's a go for next Thursday, barring a bad weather forecast.

    Hoping for a little mental respite from the situation in Trabuco. Even a temporary pacifier would be welcome. I've never been so heartbroken and elated at the same time. Peace to all of you here, and to all lovers of CNF.
     
  7. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    Location:
    San diego
    Name:
    Evan S
    Thanks Mike, we'll see. I have been itching for Downieville as well. Haven't looked at smoke conditions yet and not sure I want to commit to a big loop ride yet since I have minimal time on dirt the last few months.
     
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  8. 406

    406 Member

    Location:
    San Diego
    Name:
    Brian
    Current Bike:
    Ripmo
    Looks cool. Any idea how much elevation gain?
     
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  9. mike

    mike iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Smash
    17,400 is what the current file shows. :)
     
  10. mike

    mike iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Smash
    This is about as light as I've gone on muti-day.

    bike-contents_laketrail.jpg

    Still decadent with clothing. A stove as always (hypothermia eradicator, freeze-dried food). Tiny seat bag for tools only – full dropper capability. First bivouacs for the Smash – enough rough riding to justify full squish. :thumbsup:
     
  11. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve
    Current Bike:
    Chameleon & Highball C

    Can't wait to hear about this... And(maybe) what you think could reasonably be bitten off in one day.
     
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  12. mike

    mike iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Smash
    Steve, the Tahoe Rim Trail runs the east side of the lake. I have yet to ride any of it that is not super worthy. So, a person could just decide how much of that he wants to ride and have it all be primo with great signage, virtually no navigation, ground water en route. Most has lots of bail points and access for drop-off/PU. I can imagine some of the Lake Trail (non TRT) will not be well defined, maybe not even great riding(?) I guess we'll see :geek:
     
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  13. mike

    mike iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Smash
    Plan got a little jacked, so tomorrow morning is launch.

    My friend tells me there's "6 feet of fourth class" on the route...LOL, wtf is that, @kioti?! I smell a sandbag...should I bring a rope, or just use my 3mm accessory cord? :eek::cool: Anyway, if I don't die I'm gonna shoot for three bivies.
     
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  14. kioti

    kioti iMTB Rockstah

    Name:
    Jim Jennings
    Current Bike:
    ibis ripley
    Lets see.. 6 feet of 4th class? By definition the fall could be fatal, so if it's a riddle I'm guessing coffin or grave. Otherwise-- I s'pose I'd take a short length of light rope just in case, and do some macrame if you get bored.

    Good luck!
     
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  15. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    Location:
    San diego
    Name:
    Evan S
    Either that or the route gets on Rincon for a ways.

    Can't wait for the trip report!
     
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  16. mike

    mike iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Smash
    Back at basecamp after three of the most (???) days I’ve had in the dirt or on a bike.

    Day 1, 4o/4000 in 10:44
    Day 2, 33/3300 in 9:55
    Day 3, 62/4900 in 13:00, including 17 extra miles off the rim to base

    Those specs are meaningless without considering the terrain. More later...
     
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  17. kingaucho

    kingaucho Member

    Location:
    South OC
    Name:
    Lubo
    Current Bike:
    Giant Anthem 29er
    Way to go, Mike!

    Those are some serious miles at that elevation and with the Tahoe chunk! Look forward to the full RR!
     
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  18. kioti

    kioti iMTB Rockstah

    Name:
    Jim Jennings
    Current Bike:
    ibis ripley
    Sounds really (???) interesting..

    Maybe that 6 feet of 4th class was the easy part of the loop?
     
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  19. mike

    mike iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Smash
    The Lake Trail, Lake Tahoe CA

    An old friend, Chris, local to Lake Tahoe, has been working on a new bike-able, all-dirt/ST circumnavigation of the Lake. A couple of brief conversations gleaned some info, most notably, that the route mapping was complete but the trail work for some sections had not been done.

    Close enough for me; I’m in the area temporarily and so, made due with a .gpx file and sparse description. 130 miles in 3-5 days is what the route reputes to require. The route was “ridden” by one supported team in three days, and also was done in a push-with-naps style by another rider. The route had not been attempted full bikepacking style.

    I travelled in the recommended counter-clockwise direction, beginning at position three o’clock on the Lake at Spooner Summit. Chris offered to ride with me for the “sketchy” section at position 1:30, which averts the Wilderness near Mount Rose. Once he mentioned the word “guide,” I had to decline, stating that tricky navigation and terrain was part of what I was looking for. He understood and propped me to “go for the onsight.”

    I was caught somewhat off guard when a scheduling hiccup surfaced. I was planning a Friday departure, but suddenly had to start two days earlier. I was glad to have gotten my list together just beforehand. Brake bleed would have to wait...


    Day 1

    From Spooner Trailhead north, the Tahoe Rim Trail (which the Lake Trail uses in a couple of spots) heads right into one of the most famous and photographed trails in the area – The Flume Trail.

    laketr_2.jpg


    Once on the Flume, it’s fast riding until the Mount Rose area. The route finding and terrain then turned “interesting,” traveling on decreasingly used trails, until, finally, the track just went off into the woods. No signs of travel, no trail. Eventually, weaknesses and signs of previous passage emerged. Heading into a thickly vegetated, sandy drainage, one eventually reaches a waterfall.

    laketr_3.jpg


    The far side of this drainage (from which the photo was taken) held a weakness which looked like scrambling over large rocks. The “six feet of fourth class” that I was warned about. I recon’ed it without my bike and saw this was the way. Getting my bike up it proved NTB, with only one unexpected drop in elevation with no consequence aside from getting dirty. The rawness of this area kept coming – new and barely-used sections of trail and sheer XC travel through beautiful and rugged country.

    Eventually I hit more normal sections of trail, and finally threw down a bivouac after 40 miles, not far from Tahoe City (position 10:00 on the “Lake clock”).


    Day 2

    This day I hoped to meet the Weezl at Meeks Bay to swap out a phone battery pack, as the navigation sucked up my phone juice pretty quickly. The trail utilized some TRT, but also many other trails. The climbs and drops were more distinct here on the west side, which I felt by the time I arrived at Meeks. Said goodbyes and headed up to see what the Wilderness bypass in this area looked like and to find a bivy site. The route turned southeast off the trail in a place that looked committing to hike, let alone drag a bike, and this was a very long bypass. Yea, no thanks!

    I retreated to lower Meeks Creek and flopped near some small pools with fish darting about them.

    laketr_4.jpg

    laketr_5.jpg


    Day 3

    I worked my way back toward the Lake for the road bypass and reconnected with Lake Trail down at Bayview Trail, which ascends aside Cascade Lake to Cascade Falls. This trail is super rugged, and thankfully, riding it was not a question since I was going uphill.

    laketr_6.jpg

    The trail (a very smooth part).


    At one point I stopped to decipher the way. An elderly hiker with a dog pointed me in the right direction. He also stated that there “used to be” a trail that continued on beyond the Falls, swinging around the opposite side of Cascade Lake. Said he and friends “tried to” hike it last weekend, but it was now overgrown, and with tree fall, so the route was impassable. I didn’t even bother to mention that I planned to go that way…

    The navigation and HAB I had done the previous day made for a good warmup for this section. Giant slabs of rock, drop-offs and much overgrowth were visually intimidating. Another WTF moment…but, WTF. I was too gripped to take my phone off the mount to take pics. Here’s what it looked like:

    cascadefalls.jpg

    (Direction of travel goes out the right side of the photo)


    cascadelaketrail.jpg


    After that I decided I would do what I could to stay on at least partially developed trail. I had slid off a talus boulder and was feeling the familiar discomfort of a rib bruise, as well as a biff to my left thigh that made itself known with every step and pedal stroke for the rest of the ride. Glad I was wearing my helmet, because it also contacted granite during the bumble.

    Back near the south end of the big lake I encountered more bushwhacking and obscure route finding. The route ahead dipped away from the Lake, and I suspected at least some of this was also undeveloped. (Where no existing trails showed on the GPS app was a good clue it was new or yet-to-be-built trail.)

    So I made the decision to stick nearer the Lake and cruise through South Lake Tahoe to where the trail looped back up toward the lakeshore. Part of my rationale for this was that I had a hard date to be finished, and didn’t want to endanger that. I probably missed a half day’s riding/hiking; I’ll know more about that area once I de-brief with Chris.


    The remaining trail worked its way back up to the TRT, in an area I’m familiar with. It started looking feasible to finish this day, so I moved forward with that in mind. Once at the Lake Overlook, I knew it was five miles of ripping DH to Spooner TH, the official end of my loop. A rider chugging up made for some nice conversation. So, with the usual late-day second wind and sun starting to drop, I gave the DH my standard risk-mitigation pace (less than all out). My bike handled so well, it was one of those magic moments. A point of vindication. After previous tribulations, what a way to finish. Words truly fail.

    At Spooner I turned west on the new Clear Creek Trail extension for the 15-mile ST mostly-drop to Jacks Valley. Stopped at the creek to fill a bottle without treating the water. The fading light made things slightly slower down low, but a bright moon picked up where twilight waned. Chugged the remaining 2.5 miles through the desert and, boom, it was over.



    Afterthoughts…

    What would I suggest to anyone thinking he wants to do this route (or a version of it)? Do it for the scenery, position, environment and trails. Do it because you love the Lake Tahoe area. Biking was somewhat incidental for me. I did loads of HAB and climb-a-bike. Sometimes your bike is just way to keep from hefting your gear. Sometimes it’s a liability. All the colors of off-road bike adventure are displayed vividly on the Lake Trail.
     
  20. rossage

    rossage iMTB Addict

    Location:
    East Sacramento
    Name:
    Ross Lawson
    Current Bike:
    Highball
  21. mike

    mike iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Smash
    @kingaucho, thanks, man! :thumbsup:

    @kioti, you got it sussed. I'd give it 3rd class rating. 3+ with the bike. :cautious::)
     
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  22. levity

    levity Member

    Location:
    Irvine
    Name:
    Larry
    Current Bike:
    Stumpies (+/- e)
    WOW, quite an adventure packed into 3 epic days! KUDOS! :thumbsup:

    Can you share the gpx files? Some of us mortals might like to try sections of it as day trips.
    We could help "burn in" some of the more remote and less travelled sections.
     
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  23. mike

    mike iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Smash
    @levity, thanks for the good words. That's weighty coming from a rider who does the adventures you do. :thumbsup:

    Chris is a guide author, developing the route materials now. He asked me to not share his specifics about the route. I think he sees this stage as beta testing. Anyway, I'll post links or updated info when I get the word. :geek:
     
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  24. levity

    levity Member

    Location:
    Irvine
    Name:
    Larry
    Current Bike:
    Stumpies (+/- e)
    Understood, Mike. Look forward to when Chris makes it available.

    We love riding in the area around Tahoe, but we tend to stick to developed trails so these would be fun new areas to explore.
     
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  25. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve
    Current Bike:
    Chameleon & Highball C
    Once again, I stand in awe. :thumbsup:

    I've read it three times now... The fourth time will be with a beer and a second screen open for Google Earth so I can follow along. :D

    And... The million dollar question: How was the Smash as a bikepacker?
     
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  26. mike

    mike iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Smash
    Hey, Steve, I thought of you while I was out there, pondering a good long day outing. I'm not sure I found it, :cautious: but...TRT from Grass Lake section south to Mount Rose Highway to the north. :thumbsup::thumbsup: That would be a classic day!

    Smash as a bikepacker... That setup was so damn much fun and effortless. It's what I yearned for so many times on the AZT. I'm realizing that a dropper makes bikepacking safer and more comfortable. EZ on/off, no worrries or dismount when terrain gets tough, changing body position for comfort. The key is to have no big seat bag and a light load. Anything less than a week, no need for shelter with a good forecast. I used a 22l backpack for my sleeping bag and various other items, but kept it light and not plugged full. Heavy stuff goes in the front roll. Yes, I will use the Smash again like that. :thumbsup: I can honestly say it railed the DH like it was unloaded; a feeling I've been after for a long time.

    Did someone mention happy hour? Yes, I just did. Cheers, Steve, and everybody! :geek:
     
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  27. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    Location:
    San diego
    Name:
    Evan S
    Looks like a great adventure!

    So I take it they'll be burning trail in where there isn't any now? Are they getting official permission for that?
     
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  28. kioti

    kioti iMTB Rockstah

    Name:
    Jim Jennings
    Current Bike:
    ibis ripley
    Hey @mike, I'd love to do this ride but unfortunately I sold my climbing shoes.

    Thats a hell of a ride and report. Free-range bikepacking! And here I was whining about the HAB on Lizard. Is that buddy of yours going to clean this thing up so it's more rideable? Or even evident? Not a lot of folks out there with your route finding abilities or the desire to carry their bikes or bushwhack.

    Hopefully he will as the concept is awesome.
     
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  29. Luis

    Luis iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Sylmar
    Name:
    Luis
    Current Bike:
    Big Black 29er
    Awesome stuff man! I was thinking it would take four days to ride around the lake but you did it in three!

    IMG_2166.JPG
    Hey @mike after Tahoe City did you do that climb up to Stanford rock? That is definitely one stout climb but the views at 8,398 feet are awesome.
     
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  30. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Crescenta Valley
    Name:
    Mike, aka "Snake"
    Current Bike:
    Salsa/Trek/Kona
    You, sir, are an absolute animal. Simply outstanding! :thumbsup:
     
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