Overnight backpacking at Meramec State Park Nov 23-24 2019

The three amigos have not hit the trail in a while and all of us were feeling it was past due for some trail time. We decided what was needed was some rather adult camping where we could take a few luxuries for an overnight trip. About an hour from each of our homes is Meramec State Park, a lovely park with both trails, a cave, and RV camping along the Meramec River. It has many trails the longest being the Wilderness Trail loop at about 10 miles total. We would hike in about 4.6 miles to a primitive campsite and then walk the remaining 5.4 out the next day. The temperatures for Saturday and Saturday night called for cold temps down near freezing and maybe some rain or light snow, but Sunday was expected to be clear and much warmer. 

We started off around 8:30am

This was not a gram weenie trip. We set up to bring as many luxuries as we needed plus the promise of some pretty cold temperatures meant we got the winter packs out to stuff. Cory brought a skillet which turned out to be mighty handy. 
Cory has his Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400

Joe with his ZPacks ArcBlast

I used the Gossamer Gear Mariposa as I brought a chair!, a saw and knife for firewood building, my zero degree quilts, a couple of beers, all my food was in tupperware and some Bailey's Irish Creme for my coffee. :-)
btw- I am sure I was over 30 pounds and this pack was great, It didn't feel like I was carrying any weight. 

The day was gloomy and cold, it had rained the night before and the trail was wet.

At one point it even snowed just a bit

We made it to camp, in just a couple of hours and set up our hammocks and tarps just as the sun tried to peek out for a few minutes. 

There might have been some napping and then some lunch of hard salami, cheese and crackers. Then, however, we set about cleaning up the underbrush and cutting up downed dry wood for a fire. Cutting firewood warms you twice; cutting it and then using it.

 We collected enough to have a fire both tonight and in the morning 

We have made fire! 

Cory was first to start making dinner. He had also brought a handy grille to cook over the fire.
This might have turned into "Glamping"

The sun started to set behind the trees and made for a nice evening. The clouds were moving off and it would be a clear and very cold night

Cory's double cheeseburger done! it was HUGE

Joe made great looking brats on the grille over the open fire, but not to be outdone in anyway, I brought fillet mignon and a baked potato. I started the potato in the fire about 30 minutes early just setting it on the hot coals and then I used Cory's pan to put a nice sear on my steak, it took a bit but both turned out delicious. 

Twice baked potato with sour cream, and butter and the medium rare steak

We didn't stay as long around the fire as we might have as the wind and cold led us to jump in the warm hammocks around 8:30 pm.

The morning dawned with blue skies and warmer temperatures 
My view in the morning from the hammock

The sky was blue and the day looked like it was going to be lovely. Where we had camped there was a layer of heavy frost on everything, especially my tarp, which was frozen solid with condensation

Cory continued his culinary masterclass and had an egg, sausage bagel sandwich for breakfast. 

After breakfast we packed up so no one could tell we were ever there, except for the huge pile of firewood we are gifting to the next campers, they will be thrilled that it will be all stacked and ready for them when they arrive! 

Chilly morning and using some orange on the last weekend of rifle season. Not a worry in a State park but you never know....

 We had chosen our campsite to be last in the string of campsites but also because it is directly next to small natural spring. A few minutes down the trail is a cave with a much larger spring that which always has a great display of green all year round 

The spring water was much warmer than the air this morning, so the mist rose off the creek water.

Winter ferns along the trail 

We knew we would see "frost flowers" this morning and we were not disappointed as they were everywhere along the shaded sections of the trail 

A view of the Meramec River as you crest a ridge

Once we got on the southern side of the park it warmed up quickly and was a great day for walking 

Some of the tall grass on the south eastern side of the park 

It was a great day to be out

Open grasses to pine forest, Meramec State Park is just one of many beautiful and diverse parks in Missouri 

Another great view into the forest as we finish up the short walk back to the cars and then off to Cory's for pizza and beer. 

The Largest of the loops (in brown) is the Wilderness Trail on the map below

Tahoe Rim Trail September 2019 Day 1

Day 1

It has been a bit since a full scale trail report (January 2019- Bartram Trail). I have had many minor outings which I still need to publish, but the TRT has been in the planning phase for many months. 
The plan was to hike the TRT roughly 12 days before the ALDHA-West Gathering, this year held in Nevada City, CA, which would be my last official duty of my two year board member at large position. Originally it was to be four or us, Cory, Joe, Bobbi and myself. Cory needed to bow out early as he had his first daughter going off to College and was tied up. Joe ended up hurting his bad knee again in the build up to the trip and then hurting his good knee while favoring his bad! This left Bobbi and me and this would be Bobbi's first real long hike. For those of you who don't know The Bobbi Walters, just tune into The Trail Show podcast for complete details of her fame.

The Tahoe Rim Trail is the little sister to the John Muir Trail (235 miles long) in the High Sierra of California. The TRT (170 miles long) is still in the Sierra Mountains, but not quite as high in elevation and does not get the traffic the JMT does and does not require the permits the JMT does, so it makes an idle trail for a simple thru hike and because it is a loop around the mountains that ring Lake Tahoe you can start and finish anywhere along the loop.
We chose to start at the South Lake Tahoe area, as transportation and lodging seemed to be easiest. (much more on the transportation issues later in these posts)

Bobbi needed to fly from Cleveland to St.Louis and then we met to fly first to Las Vegas for a layover then Reno, the closest airport to Lake Tahoe

A few hours and a couple of planes and we are in Reno, NV.

Landing in Reno we grabbed an Uber, something that would become all too familiar in the coming days and got into South Lake Tahoe with no issues. Since it had originally been three coming we booked into the least expensive accommodations (South Lake Tahoe is a very expensive place, even in the off season) 
The Mellow Mountain is a hostel with bunk beds, four to a room.

Why do I always get the top bunk? 

We did manage a good burger and a beer, at California Burger Company, with some live music before a very early bedtime, but that didn't stop the Hostel from blasting EDM music till midnight 

I was encouraged in my research that we could take a $4 bus right up to the trailhead at Kingsbury South, this is a ski area that also has a Tahoe Rim Trail access point. We planned to take the first bus up the next morning at 7 am. 

Waiting for the bus in the early morning the silliness begins 

Getting off the bus the trail and the surrounding mountains were immediately gorgeous.
The weather was cool and crisp and the sky was a deep blue at this elevation.

The walk was fantastic, no wonder I hear reports of making 20-30 miles per days out West. The trails are so well graded with little to no rocks or roots and so soft under foot. We got an early view of the Lake but then the trail moves over to the Carson Valley side.

You get a huge expansive view of the Carson Valley side looking down from the Tahoe Rim 

The got our first view of some steep uphill coming in just a few miles. Bobbi started to feel bad with a headache and shortness of breath. This sounded like classic altitude effects. She was taking a shorter and shorter time between breaks to catch her breath. 

We had intended to go about 14-16 miles today, up and over Freel Peak pass, I now figured Star Lake at 9 miles was going to be our best bet for the day. 

We arrived at Star Lake around 1:30 pm. We had planned just to have a late lunch and move on.
It is a beautiful lake set against the mountains in the background.

While she insisted she was ok, when we stopped, it was the end of the day for Bobbi. The moment she could sit down longer than a few minutes she was out.  A first day when the altitude has you, is no joke and she did well to get this far.

 She napped and I scouted a camping spot. This Lake was incredible busy today. The Tahoe 200 and Tahoe 100K were being run at the same time around the lake and we had seen about two dozen people on mountain bikes. The runners would continue to come through the lake side all night. 

 I managed to find a spot just above the lake and out of sight of the trail. After a brief nap Bobbi was feeling much better and had an appetite so we made some dinner.

Even I had an issue on the first day, I had lost my spoon somewhere, no worries, I had my potty trowel and that can double as my spoon, and it did! 
It was a lovely evening just resting as the sun set 

and a beautiful sunset 

We had started the hike on the Full Moon, so later I got up and took a shot of it over Star Lake

Day 1  Stats
The mileage given on sign posts put Star Lake 9 miles on the actual TRT. However we walked the approach trail from Heavenly Stagecoach and a bit more. 
By the way it is Bus 22 that takes you from the Stateline Transit Center in SLT to an intersection just above the actual trail head at South Kingsbury 

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