Adopting a Tahoe Rim Trail mile

By Sam Bauman

Bill and Sandra McGee of Tiburon, Calif., have recently "Adopted a Mile" of the Tahoe Rim Trail in remembrance of Emmy Wood, legendary Nevada dude ranch proprietor of the famous Flying M E.

In the 1980s, while residing in Incline Village Bill McGee was one of the early volunteers for the Tahoe Rim Trail. A former Montana cowboy, Bill first saw Lake Tahoe in the early 1940s while cowboying throughout the West. Following his discharge from the Navy after World War II, Bill returned to Nevada and worked as a dude wrangler and deer hunting guide. In 1947, Bill was hired as the head dude wrangler on the Flying M E, an exclusive dude ranch in Washoe Valley catering to wealthy divorcee seekers who came to Nevada for a six week divorce.

In the 1950s, Bill left cowboying and made a successful transition into the broadcasting industry. However, he always returned to Lake Tahoe " as a hiker, a skier and a writer enjoying the solitude of the Lake for the many books he has authored. Bill and his wife Sandra co-authored "The Divorce Seekers: A Photo Memoir of a Nevada Dude Wrangler" (, a coffee table book recounting Bill's time at the Lake and on the Flying M E.

The Tahoe Rim Trail Association's Adopt-a-Mile and Adopt-a-Mile programs make it possible for families, individuals, organizations and businesses to honor a friend or loved one while ensuring the continuing legacy of the Tahoe Rim Trail through the adoption of a mile on the Tahoe Rim Trail.


Hiking around Carson City can get limiting, but for now Prison Hill, east of town, offers a couple of levels of energy. Hiking the west side of Prison Hill can be moderate, easy or more strenuous. The nice thing about Prison Hill is that it is close. Just take Koonz off Carson Street left; follow it up to the dirt road that leads to the big water tank.

Turn left just before the water tank and take the dirt road to the fenced area parking lot. There's an open space in the wood fence that puts you on the trail. If you take this hike in the morning you'll get the sun strong in your eyes; I've usually done it at that time and did earlier this week.

A couple of hundred yards along the trail you'll come to another trail off to the left. It's decision time: go left and you'll follow an undulating path that winds around the projecting hill. Go straight ahead and you'll follow a trail that leads to the top of the hill.

With the knee still not 100 percent nine weeks after the operation, I opted for the trail on the left, not wanting to get well along the upward trail and have the knee complain. I've done it several times and it's always a pleasure to reach the top and enjoy the vision of Carson laid out below. This is a trail of moderate strain so anyone used to some degree of hiking will be able to handle it easily. Be sure and take a camera and, of course water. Sun block is a good idea in these clear days.

This weekend I'm going to take the other approach from the east at the Silver Sage ranch. This is a pleasant hike, starting out with a patch of trail with a steep pitch off to the right. But more on that next week.


Recently I wrote about Dead Man's, a favorite easy hike off East Lake Boulevard just before the entrance to Lake Washoe State Park. A big, dead tree marks the trailhead after about six miles along the road. I recently tried the Loop Trail, which begins about 30 feet into the Dead Man's path to the left. I checked the distance Sunday and it turned out to be .8 miles to the Ranger Station, where it ends. Until recently you could grab a dirt road there and loop back to Dead Man's, but last winter's storms eroded the link.

So now it's just a pleasant little run to the Ranger's Headquarters. It opens at 8 a.m. and is usually operating. Lots of parks literature there as well as some art created by park staffers. The view along the trail is of Slide Mountain and the lake. Not much of a place to stop and snack, however.

Back at Dead Man's trail I decided it was time to give the knee a bit more of a test with the modest 150-feet of vertical and the mile length. A few hundred yards along the marked and signed trail I came to the cutoff to the right, which are the remains of the old original trail. Despite the fact that this trail is not maintained I figured it was time to check it out.

It's steeper and shorter than the current trail, which follows a draw and then takes a switchback the rest of the way. The old trail was in pretty good shape, considering that there is no upkeep. And steeper, for sure; sweat popped out quickly. The old railroad ties are still in place and the plants haven't taken over. The views are constant (on the new trail you don't see much until you reach the gazebo).

The gazebo itself is showing signs of wear; it's tilted a few degrees and needs some attention (the rangers say they're trying to get the Boy Scout who rebuilt the gazebo as an Eagle Scout project after the fire of several years ago to come back and help). By the time I reached the gazebo the knee was making modest complaints about the steep climb.

So the back trip was along the long new trail. Happily, the knee found going downhill a lot less stressful, just the opposite of the pre-operation knee which complained about downhill.


Getting away to Lake Tahoe will be easy this year at Northstar. Starting at just $103 per person/per night for a studio condo, the Early Season package includes lift tickets and lodging. This package must be booked by Nov. 1 and is valid from Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort's opening day through Dec. 18.

Studio condo plus $50 gas card plus carbon offsets plus lift tickets equal a weekend that is light on the environment and your wallet. Book a winter escape before Nov. 15 for as little as $108 per person/per night for a studio condo, and receive lift tickets, a complimentary $50 gas card plus two green tags to offset the carbon footprint of one round-trip from the San Francisco Bay Area to Northstar. Valid Nov. 21 through Dec. 18 and Jan. 4 through Jan. 29. Three-night minimum stays required. $50 gas card valid at Northeaster-at-Tahoe Resort gas station.


If you missed the story in Thursday's paper, the 37th Wood Boat show is at Carnelian Bay this weekend, today and Saturday. Tickets are $30 for one day and the expanse of classic "woodies" is a catalog of the best of American and Italian boat-building in the 1920s and 30s.


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