Fifth-graders at Mark Twain Elementary School have been traversing the Tahoe Rim Trail — kind of.
For seven weeks, they have been logging their miles — whether walked, biked, hiked, run or swam — to try to reach the 164 miles. Students who accumulated the most miles were rewarded this weekend with an actual hike along a portion of the trail around Spooner Lake.
“I thought it went really well,” said Shannon Mick, 10. “I learned a lot of new things and met a lot of new people.”
Representatives from the Tahoe Rim Trail Association, which sponsored the event, gave presentations along the 2-mile trail, giving a history of the people who lived there.
“We got to learn about wolf lichen,” said Juan Brena, 10. “The farmers used it to kill the wolves because the wolves were eating their chickens.”
There are remnants of people living in the area before the first white settlers as well.
“I liked learning about the native civilizations that lived there,” said Cierra Randall, 10. “The Washoe tribe was there. We got to sit in their kitchen and eat lunch.”
Physical education teacher Colleen Katen partnered with the Tahoe Rim Trail Association for the project.
“According to the Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare Foundation’s 2010 Community Health Report, 28.7 percent of Carson City area youth aged 6-17 are either overweight or obese,” the association said in a news release. “In response to these statistics, the Tahoe Rim Trail Association, a member based non-profit organization located in Incline Village, and Mark Twain Elementary School in Carson City have joined forces in an attempt to combat the issue of childhood obesity in our community.”
The students were eager to participate, Katen said.
“This hiking program has provided the information and motivation to my students to try something new and exciting,” she said. “The seed has been planted and many are finding trails in the immediate vicinity.”
Getting them out collecting mileage on their own supplemented the 45 minutes of P.E. they get in school, she said, which is inadequate on its own.
“Since there is not much time in P.E., emphasis is made to create a knowledge of lifetime sports and activities for the children to do outside of school,” Katen said.
Jocelyn Estrada, 11, said the project got her interested in finding new place to hike.
“Even though I would have had to do the exercise anyway because my dad makes me, it was fun to go out and go to certain places where I haven’t been before,” she said. “We went up to Tahoe and just kind of jogged around a little bit.”
Katen hopes it’s a trend that continues even as the project concludes.
“It will only be a matter of time when they will find trails such as the Tahoe Rim Trail,” she said. “That’s what the hiking bug does to a person: It makes you a searcher, a wanderer and explorer.”