One-year-old might be youngest to complete Tahoe Rim Trail
September 21, 2017
At 1 year old, Matilda Nibouar might be the youngest person to complete the Tahoe Rim Trail — a feat she accomplished alongside her parents on her first birthday, Aug. 14.
She wasn't originally going to go on the 165-mile trip with her mother and father (former South Shore locals and current Bay Area residents Katherine and Ryan), who planned the hike before she was born.
"My husband and I have always gone hiking, backpacking and camping, but I'd never done a thru-hike. Originally I wanted to go on my own, but then Matilda arrived and I decided I wanted to take her with me," said Katherine.
After beginning to plan the logistics of the trip, Katherine quickly realized she wouldn't be able to carry all the supplies on her own — thus the trek turned into a family adventure to celebrate a love of nature and the outdoors.
While the Nibouars are no strangers to exploring the region — Katherine and Ryan had done sections of the Rim Trail and camped in Desolation Wilderness in the past — the two began talking about turning the hike into a family excursion six months prior to departure and started preparations three months in advance.
"We spent quite a bit of time assessing the trail, planning out how many days it would take, the gear we needed, getting food ready — getting it ready for [Matilda] was a big thing," Katherine noted.
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"We had some concerns going in, how she would do, but overall she just loved it. I don't think she wants to be inside anymore — she slept better in the tent than she has the past week since we've been back. She definitely got used to fresh air and being outside."
The Tahoe Rim Trail Association, a nonprofit that preserves and maintains the Rim Trail system, cannot verify with absolute certainty that Matilda is the youngest person to complete the entire trail. About one year ago another family with a child around the same age completed the whole trail, said Morgan Fessler Steel, the association's executive director.
The Tahoe Rim Trail Association has stepped away from the role of "record keeper" for all things Rim Trail related.
But with months, or possibly even weeks, separating the two, Matilda is "definitely one of the youngest if not the youngest" to complete the entire trail, Fessler Steel added.
The Nibouars ended up completing the trail in 17 days, including one rest day spent in Tahoe City.
"It was awesome to complete the entire thing. We thought we knew Tahoe well, but we saw a whole other side of the lake — incredible views that we had never seen before," Katherine said.
But the trip wasn't always easy. Apart from the hailstorm that ended day two earlier than expected, long days were the most challenging aspects of the journey, according to Katherine.
"We tried to plan so we'd only do up to 10 miles per day so Matilda didn't have to spend too much time in the backpack, but there were sections where there was nowhere else to camp, so you'd have to do 16 miles in one day.
"There were only a couple of them, but we'd be grumpy at the end of the day and need to get Matilda out of the backpack and play. That was challenging," Katherine explained.
Despite the long days, she still encourages families to take their children on similar excursions.
"[The trip] was a fantastic thing. It's a beautiful trail, and I hope more parents take their kids out — it was really an incredible experience for all of us. It took a lot of planning, but it was absolutely worth it," she said.
See more pictures from the Nibouars' trip on Instagram (@everythingwentsouth).