TRT: Lessons learned – what would I do differently next time?

TRT: Lessons learned – what would I do differently next time?

I hiked the Tahoe Rim Trail in July and August of 2018. It was my first thru-hike. Even though I had been backpacking in the past, there were a few things I learned along the way. Some were specific to the trail, and others were more general and something I can use in my future adventures.


Most of the gear I had from the beginning worked out really well. But as expected, there were a few things that didn’t work out.

The Katadyn BeFree water filter I started with was one that I had been pleased with on previous short hikes. But on a longer hike, it started clogging up, and there is no way of backflushing it like a Sawyer Squeeze. No amount of swishing water around in the bottle would restore the flow-rate, so I ended up swapping it out for a tried-and-true Sawyer Squeeze. I had also had an issue with a pin-hole in the BeFree bag, so the ability to use cheap standard water bottles was great.

I really liked my Altra Lone Peak 3.0s. But it became apparent on the first leg of my hike that the bottoms don’t provide that much protection from the trail surface. I first noticed this on the Eastern side of the trail, walking on loose sand, because the bottom of my feet would get really tired. I remedied this by getting SuperFeet Carbon insoles. This proved to be a lifesaver on the rocky Desolation Wilderness stretch.

I brought a Tenkara fishing rod on the trip. There weren’t really that many opportunities to fish on the trail without taking side trips, so I would leave it home if I were to hike the trail again.

I had a Zpacks bear bag with a line for my food storage. This turned out to be a major pain in the butt, easily adding 15-30 minutes of frustration to the end of each day to find a good hang. It also limited campsite selections as there aren’t any suitable trees as you get closer to the treeline. An Ursack would have been a much better choice.


The days were hot, so I was happy that I didn’t pack a hot lunch. In fact, I think I could have skipped having a proper lunch all together and just increased the number of snacks.


The Guthook app was super helpful. Knowing when the next water source will be allowed me to carry a lighter pack. Comments from other hikers provided up to date information on seasonal water sources. Highly recommended.


Although cell phone service was spotty, there were spots with reception every day. I carried an InReach device but could have done without one for communication. But I still like having it for emergencies.


One of the great things about the TRT is that it offers so many potential start and end points. There’s a reasonably well functioning public transport system that can get you to trailheads, and because you have cell reception at many trailheads, you can order an Uber or a Lyft if you don’t feel like hitchhiking.


Are you planning to hike the Tahoe Rim Trail? Do you have questions on gear or logistics? Feel free to ask them below!


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