It’s a sunny autumn morning and a group of hikers gather at the Loch Leven Lakes trailhead off Interstate 80. A blonde-haired woman with a slight German accent gives me a big hug and welcomes me into the group. As we introduce ourselves, the other hikers start raving about the leader Carmen Carr.
Carmen Carr, at left
Residing in the Truckee area for more than 20 years, Carmen Carr is a real estate agent, board member of the Family Resource Center of Truckee, founder of the Truckee Talkers Toastmasters, founder of the Mountain High Business Networking International chapter and former Tahoe Weekly graphic designer (among other titles).
She is also an avid hiker who realized that a good way to meet other people was to invite them along on her journeys. Although she didn’t get into hiking before moving to Lake Tahoe, Carr says, “My favorite hiking is putting one foot out in front of the other, being in nature.”
She formally launched the group hikes in October 2006 and led about 10 people on her first one to Five Lakes; it started growing from there. On any given hike, she has anywhere from two to 20 people join her.
“I love the variety of scenery from granite to jungle, vegetation, pine trees.”
One hiker found out about the hikes through a friend, while a couple heard about them by reading The Tahoe Weekly.
“I haven’t met a single hiking person who doesn’t know Carmen,” says one trekker.
“People walk up to me all the time and say ‘You’re Carmen Carr from the hikes,’ ” she says. Her database of hikers is around 200 who all receive her e-mails. Carr jokingly says that she wishes her real estate business had that kind of engagement.
Following Carmen and Benjie
She started her monthly hikes as a way to network and highlight Lake Tahoe’s back country. “I love sharing this area with people,” she says.
Joyce Scardina Becker has been on a few of Carr’s hikes and mentions one trek was a little dicey but added, “Carmen was able to help us get out of our comfort zones while keeping us safe.”
We began the 7-mile intermediate trip to the three lakes and back. Trailing behind Carr is her little white dog, Benjie. Like a little mountain goat, Benjie is easily jumping over fallen trees and hopping from rock to rock. No bigger than a small sack of potatoes, Carr says Benjie can hike as far as 10 miles.
“I love the variety of scenery from granite to jungle, vegetation, pine trees,” says Carr.
Her three favorite hikes include the Loch Leven Lakes hike (the one that we are on), Frog Lake and Ellis Peak, “which probably looks like Mount Everest to Benjie,” Carr says.
She does have staple hikes that she takes people on every year: each January the group goes hiking or snowshoeing up to Lost Trail Lodge and in May the group hikes the Rubicon Trail.
We tramp up granite rock slabs, cross railroad tracks and find new and unusual flora until, a couple of hours into the hike, we catch a glimpse of the first lake, a mass of blue glassy water with granite rocks and pines around it. We then dip down to the second lake that seems a bit bigger and longer, but just as beautiful. A couple of the hikers in the group hold back at the second lake while the rest of us walk another mile or so to Loch Leven No. 3. There we sit atop one of the boulders and pull out snacks.
On the way back, Carr tells me that when choosing her hikes, she doesn’t go too far out of the Truckee-Tahoe area. She starts her hikes at 9 a.m., takes the group on a 5-mile or so intermediate trail and finishes between 1 and 2 p.m. so that people can get on with the rest of their day.
Carr’s hikes are generally the third Saturday of every month and she releases them about six months out. In the last 10 years, she has never missed or canceled a hike. Her motto is: recognition and consistency.
She doesn’t push anyone to go farther than he or she wants to on a hike and if anyone wants to go back for whatever reason, he or she never hikes it out alone.
“As they say, it’s all about the journey, not the destination,” Carr says.
Carmen Carr’s 10th anniversary hike will be held on Oct. 15 at 9 a.m. to Marlette Lake. To get on Carr’s mailing list for future hikes, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. All of her hikes are also listed in the Tahoe Weekly’s Events calendar.
See you on the trails.
For more information, visit carmencarr.com