Take a hike: ‘The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe’ shares the scoop

Tahoe Onstage
Kathryn “Kae” Reed’s career path has led to book writing.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

Catchy headline writing is one of the many skills Kathryn “Kae” Reed honed during her newspaper career. It’s no surprise that for her first book, she came up with this attention grabber: “The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe – Must-Do Scenic Hikes.”

Tahoe-area hikes are breathtaking for the beauty and the altitude. For those fortunate enough to live in the region and for visitors, this is a beneficial book.

The trails are of the earthen variety, but the landscape is dominated by granite. A day hike is enhanced with the discovery of an ideal “lunch boulder.” These are stories about short jaunts and all-day journeys throughout Lake Tahoe and the Desolation Wilderness, Alpine County and the Mokelumne Wilderness and beyond.

On the way to Dardanelles Lake, Reed writes, “Big Meadow is aptly named. The tall grasses make me channel Julie Andrews, but I don’t sing out loud. The hills really do seem alive, though.”

The description is more Hemmingway than Edward Abbey. Concise, entertaining and useful. The book is a fun, easy read. And it’s a useful reference guide.

Dirt Around TahoeExperienced firsthand and empirically researched, each hike is rated for scenery, difficulty and, most importantly, how to find the starting point. And even with signage, it’s easy to take a wrong turn. This guide helps prevent doing that. Like a good news story, the best comes first. Reed’s lead chapter is about the only hike that received a perfect 10 rating for scenery: “Ralston Peak: 360 degrees of awe.” Mount Tallac might be the talk of the town, but Ralston Peak has better views.

Upon reading “The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe,” my outdoors itinerary will include a colorful fall hike to Marlette Lake, and, in wintertime when the Sierra Nevada is packed with snow, an exploration of Prison Hill in Carson City’s Eagle Valley. Who knew that steep hill through sagebrush leads to miles of dog-friendly trails?

I’ve driven past Eagle Rock on the West Shore for 30 years and had never known how to hike to it. The book reveals it’s the easiest hike to get the best view of Lake Tahoe. It takes just 15 minutes. Also new to me is the trail to Angora Ridge, which parallels the road and leads to myriad post-Angora fire pathways.

These hikes are short primers that a hiker can use as a base leading to discoveries. For example, en route to one of those lunch boulders, Reed only makes passing mention to a lake in which I’ve caught more fish than any other in the Desolation Wilderness. And it meanders to the best swimming hole, which of course can be very cold.

Any hike can lead to a story, and that’s what each is in this book. They were first published in the Lake Tahoe News, an online paper that Reed ran for nine years. She rewrote them and added the ratings and directions during a nearly yearlong stay in Todos Santos, Mexico.

“Putting together ‘The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe’ brought back such wonderful memories, especially as I went through all of my photos,” Reed said. “Not being immersed in Tahoe at the time gave me a better perspective on what to include in a book that I hoped would appeal to a large audience.”

Reed, who has visited Lake Tahoe since she was a child, had two stints at the Tahoe Daily Tribune. First, she was a reporter, then was the managing editor – that’s when I worked with her.

We took a short, early morning hike to Hawley Grade Falls. AJ, Reed’s 16-year old, four-legged companion who I read about in the book, became an instant pal with my dog, Wooford. We didn’t see any humans, but a deer and a couple of newborn fawns said hello while we were on the path. After communicating for years with Kae through email, texts and Facebook, it was nice to have a real conversation. That’s another benefit of getting out on a trail.

Reed said she’s heading back south after summer.

“I would also like to publish a book about snowshoeing and cross country skiing in the Lake Tahoe area,” she said. “I started a non-fiction book in June while in Todos Santos that has a Tahoe and Mexico connection that I hope to finish when I’m back in Mexico.”

She didn’t reveal the book’s topic. We’ll get that dirt later.

— Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

Book signings

Aug. 17, 1-4pm: Rucksack Cellars, 3030 Carson Road, Placerville. Signing and sales. Everyone who buys a book that day at the winery receives $2 off a bottle of wine that day. Books are $15 each, cash only.

Aug. 20, 6:30-8pm: REI, 2425 Iron Point Road, Folsom. Presentation, signing, sales. Books $15, cash only. Register online.

Aug. 21, noon-1pm: Soroptimists International of South Lake Tahoe (Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, Stateline) — talk, signing, sales. Books are $15 each, cash only.

Aug. 22, 6-7pm: Sports Basement, 2727 Milvia St., Berkeley. Presentation, signing, sales. Books are $15, cash only.

Aug. 24, 11am-3pm: Lava Cap Winery, 2221 Fruitridge Road, Placerville. Everyone who buys a book that day at the winery receives $2 off a bottle of wine that day. Books are $15 each, cash only.

Sept. 7, 3-4pm: Flashlight Books, 1537 North Main Street, Walnut Creek. Presentation, sales, signing. Books are $15 each, cash only.

Sept. 8, 1-3pm: Bounty Books, 877 Merchant Street, Vacaville. Sales and signing. Books are $15 each, cash only, with 10% off at the signing.

Sept. 11, 6:30-8pm: REI, 1790 Expo Parkway, Sacramento. Presentation, signing, sales. Books $15, cash only. Register online.

Sept. 26, 6-7pm: Book Smart, 421 Vineyard Town Center, Morgan Hill. Presentation with wine and cheese, sales, signing. Books are $15 each, cash only.

Sept. 30, 4-5:30pm: Douglas County Library, 1625 Library Lane, Minden. Signing and sales with other local authors. Books are $15 each, cash only.

Oct. 3, 6:30-8pm: REI, 1148 Galleria Blvd., Roseville. Presentation, signing, sales. Books are $15, cash only.

Purchase online

Amazon: LINK

Barnes & Noble: LINK

Where to buy the book in the Lake Tahoe Basin:

Freel Perk — Meyers; Sports Ltd. — South Lake Tahoe; Studio 4 — South Lake Tahoe; Angora Lakes Resort — South Lake Tahoe; Lake Tahoe Museum — South Lake Tahoe; The Ridge Tahoe — Stateline; Tramway Market — Stateline; Visitors’ Center — Stateline; Lakeside Inn — Stateline; Robin’s Nest — Kings Beach; Potlatch — Incline Village; Visitors’ Center — Tahoe City; Obexer’s General Store – Homewood.

Where to buy the book outside Tahoe:

Alice’s Mountain Market – Olympic Village; Word After Word — Truckee; Granite Chief — Truckee; Sorensen’s Resort — Hope Valley; Fresh Ideas — Gardnerville; Shelby’s Book Shoppe — Minden; Douglas County Historical Society — Minden; Grassroots Books — Reno; Sundance Books — Reno; REI — Reno; Placerville News Co. — Placerville; Well Read Books — Jackson; Sports Ltd. — Redding; The Hermit’s Hut — Redding; The Fifth Season — Mount Shasta; Sports Ltd. — Chico; Whim House — Danville; Towne Center Books — Pleasanton; Books Inc. — Campbell; Book Smart — Morgan Hill; Bookshop Benicia — Benicia; The Avid Reader — Davis; Bounty Books — Vacaville; Rustic Roots — Turlock.

Stay on top of the latest dirt: LINK

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.


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