I love being in the outdoors, and camping (speaking of camping, for my most recent turn to post on the Simple Green Frugal Co-op, I wrote about using a dutch oven to bake fresh, hot campsite treats). Luckily, living here in Carson City, there's beautiful camping country practically right out my back door. Much of the land around the Lake Tahoe shoreline, especially the western, California side and the casino areas just across the Nevada state line north and south, is densely populated, developed property. But thanks to the eccentricities of a few reclusive, rich owners over the years, the land on the east side has remained pretty much undeveloped, and is now in the public domain as the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. The interior of the park is closed to motorized traffic, but there are numerous trails for hiking, mountain biking, equestrians, and cross-country skiing, and a few backcountry campgrounds.
When I was younger, I used to do some backpacking. It was hard work then, carrying everything. I know I'm not in good-enough shape to get much into the backcountry now (but I'm trying to get back in better condition, and with new advances in gear weight and technology, maybe someday . . . ). So when, as a member of Muscle Powered, I heard the park ranger was allowing 4WD vehicles to drive the 6-8 miles into Marlette Peak campground for a weekend of volunteer trail building, I jumped at the chance to go. I dug out my old pup tent and backpacking stove, threw my gear in a duffel bag, and met up with the others to carpool in early Saturday morning.
The campground is quite nice, especially for a backcountry site. There's a pit toilet, bear boxes, tables, fire rings, and water available (no trash pickup - pack everything out), and it's right on the Tahoe Rim Trail. We saw quite a few mountain bikers, a few day hikers, and a couple of overnight campers the two days we were there. By Saturday evening, the weather had turned cold and windy, but if it had been warmer I would have walked the mile and a half down to Marlette Lake after a dusty day's work, and jumped in for a swim.
We were working on a section not far below the campground. When finished, the trail will run from the Tahoe Rim Trail to Hobart Reservoir (where there's another campground). It's a reasonably gentle grade - hillside traverses interspersed with swooping turns in the shade of the pines. When finished, the trail will provide a much nicer alternative to the hot, steep climb on the road up Sunflower Hill (the photo at the top of this post is a view across a trailside meadow, with Reno in the distance). It will probably take three years to hand-build the planned five miles of trail. One more work weekend this season (volunteer for just a day, or camp overnight) is planned for September 18-19, weather-permitting. See Muscle Powered for more information.