I thought about bragging for having hiked over 20 miles non-stop, in a single day, but the truth is that after the 10th mile, and the realization that I was hopelessly lost in a desertous mountain and out of water, I began to ask myself why I had even considered going on my own. I´m writing this from the mountains, still out of water and still lost, joking! please don´t send rescue, I eventually managed to limp my way back. Here it is, how not to hike Lake Tahoe, from a foreign, city-girl´s experience.
When English is Your Second Language
Lesson#1: Make sure you speak English. I hiked to the peak of a mountain and then walked for 5 lost miles to the summit of another. 15 miles into my hike I found out that I did not know the exact meaning of "summit" "peak" or the initials "TH." Yes yes, believe me, now I know "TH" stands for Trail Head! At the time, I was trying to guess something like T is for Tahoe and H is for...who knows what!
In a country where the words Push and Pull are on almost every business front door, I´ve been dummed-down enough to expect to be able to figure out information signs quite easily, that is, if I fully comprehend the words in English.
Maps, Maps, Maps... Maps
Lesson #2: Maps are no joke. Seriously, they could save you at least 5 hours of unplanned thirst, bursting blisters and painful hiking. 5 hours into my hike I could still picture the image in my mind of the big map I decided to completely ignore at the trail head ;) . Perhaps if I had taken a quick glance at the map I would have understood that there was a difference between Mt Rose Summit, Mt Rose TH and Mt Rose Peak. Ugh, from my perspective, whoever came up with the signs could have at least tried to be more creative. Hike "A", "B " and "C" would have been far better signing than what´s up there right now, I mean, a lot of foreigners are out there every summer (hopefully more experienced hikers), but the confusion could still get some in the same crappy situation.
Well no words needed, just look at what I was wearing. You´d think I´d be all about the best hiking shoes... Even the nice old Swiss lady with whom I exchanged words on the trail commented on how inappropriate my shoes were for the hike. Yea, I´ll know what to wear if there is a ever a next time. Admittedly, after the 15th mile my toes were in a lot of pain, blisters were growing and my knees were starting to give out. Lesson #3: Hiking shoes are after all essential.
The Merciless Sun
When I scratched the back of my neck and it burned like hell I realized that I had forgotten something quite important. Lesson #4: Sunscreen. 8 hours of direct Lake Tahoe sun isn´t too friendly on the skin, but surprisingly it turned out to not be as bad as I expected, after all, I am Colombian, my skin can take some sun.
The Good News:
Eventually, I found my way back... how? I sat down on a rock feeling hopelessly defeated, when a cute, fluffy dog ran to greet me, followed by its owner. She sent me back the right way and a couple of hours later I was limping fast to the start of the trail, and my friend was happy she didn't have to try to rescue me before the sun went down.
Lesson #5: The views are quite beautiful even when in pain and desperation. Here are some photos that do not reflect the shameful story of this terrible hiker.
Colombian, living and traveling the world (well- not so much at the moment) I am currently sharing my time between San Diego, CA and Albuquerque, NM.